The Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewellyn – Book Review

The Teenage Liberation Handbook
by Grace Llewellyn

This is a challenging book for me, which is why I keep it on my shelf. When I feel like I’m veering too strongly toward mind-numbing rigor in our homeschool, I grab this book and it helps swing me closer to center. I’m not sure I’d ever have the courage to hand it to my child, though!

I do feel that since I’ve discovered Circe Institute and others who are pursuing an understanding of medieval classical education (as opposed to the neo-classical style that is currently so popular) I am no longer swinging back and forth on the pendulum between unschooling and what I had been calling classical (which really just fed my drive to be the best). I appreciate what unschoolers are saying in their departure from current educational practices, but I’ve never felt fully comfortable with the ideology. Unschooling seems like it contains within it the potential for breeding unhealthy pride and individualism, and I’m seeing more and more the value of humility in all areas of life. I believe there is much wisdom to be gained from thinkers of the past and that there is something of a canon of knowledge that is important for me to impart to my children. With that said, though, this is still an eye-opening read, and I would recommend it to anyone who has kids in or out of public school.

Grammar Island by Michael Clay Thompson – Book Review

Grammar Island
by Michael Clay Thompson

I both loved and hated this curriculum.

First, what I didn’t like:

  • The graphics are horrible. All artwork and photographs are pixelated. This may have been fixed in later versions, though.
  • The story/writing about Mud the Fish within Sentence Island was annoying, though my kids didn’t seem to care. I do like the effort to make Grammar more whimsical, though I think the execution could have been better.

What I did like: 

  •  The use of color within the typography is a great way to emphasize things visually.
  •  I love the method of four level analysis. It is so much clearer than diagramming (though diagramming is more clear about showing phrases as large modifiers, so we’ve begun adding it in occasionally.).
  • The Practice book is an excellent idea and helps solidify everything.
  • I love the “sit on the couch and snuggle while you learn” type of material. This isn’t boring worksheets. It often just felt like more Read Aloud time.
  • This is a challenging curriculum. I like that it expects a lot of my kids. I don’t expect them to understand everything right away, but they grow in their understanding as the year progresses. This curriculum covers in one year (3rd or 4th grade usually) what I learned up through 7th grade in school.

Overall, it is a product I would use again because it works and my kids love it.