Llewellyn, Grace 1964–

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Llewellyn, Grace 1964–

(Grace Katherine Llewellyn)

PERSONAL: Born March 18, 1964, in Boise, ID; daughter of David Lowry and Gai (Wroten) Llewellyn; married Skip Bergin, May, 1993 (divorced 1998). Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Carleton College, B.A., 1986.

ADDRESSES: Office—Genius Tribe, P.O. Box 1014, Eugene, OR 97440. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Substitute teacher at public schools in Oakland, CA, 1986–87; schoolteacher in Colorado Springs, CO, 1988–90; Lowry House Publishers, Eugene, OR, publisher, 1990–. Genius Tribe Books (mail order book catalog), owner and book reviewer, 1995–2002; Not Back to School Camp, director, 1996–.

WRITINGS:

The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education, Lowry House (Eugene, OR), 1991, new edition, 1998.

(Editor) Real Lives: Eleven Teenagers Who Don't Go to School, Lowry House (Eugene, OR), 1993, revised edition, 2005.

(Editor) Freedom Challenge: Essays by African American Homeschoolers, Lowry House (Eugene, OR), 1996.

(With Amy Silver) Guerrilla Learning: How to Give Your Kids a Real Education with or without School, John Wiley and Sons (New York, NY), 2001.

SIDELIGHTS: Grace Llewellyn is a former teacher whose book, The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education has been called an inspiration to current and would-be home-schoolers. It has also been called a book that "lots of parents and teachers won't like," Booklist reviewer Stephanie Zvirin noted. In short, summarized Martin Bright in the Observer, "The Teenage Liberation Handbook addresses all adolescents who feel miserable at school and encourages them to leave." In the first section of the book, Llewellyn condemns the public school system as having been created for the express purpose of quashing individualism and teaching children to conform, rather than educating them. In subsequent sections, she addresses the legal aspects of leaving school and responds to questions that teenagers might have about the aspects of school they would regret missing in a home-school environment, such as clubs, sports, and daily interaction with same-age peers. Other chapters introduce the philosophy of home-schooling, or as Llewellyn terms it, "unschooling," and it is to this section that reviewers experienced in home-schooling directed readers with a similar background. "Grace Llewellyn has such a zest for life she makes all things seem possible," remarked Pam Gingold in the Northern California Homeschool Association Newsletter. "I can never look at her book without getting excited again about homeschooling. Everything I know and believe in is constantly reinforced in this book." Llewellyn also offers practical information about how to set up a home school environment best suited to one's own needs, and lists extensive resources, organized by state, and innovative ideas for how to become educated outside of the public school system.

"This is a very dangerous book," noted Pat Wagner in Bloomsbury Review. "It contradicts all the conventional wisdom about dropouts and the importance of a formal education." It is also a warmly humorous look at life and learning, according to others. "Students who choose this course [of action] will find an invaluable and unique resource here," wrote Christy Tyson in Voice of Youth Advocates. "Even those who do not decide to leave school after reading her book will have a hard time viewing formal education in quite the same way again," Tyson continued. For others, The Teenage Liberation Handbook will make "tantalizing reading for teens who can't make it in school but have the discipline and the passion to learn on their own," Zvirin concluded.

Llewellyn's second book, Real Lives: Eleven Teenagers Who Don't Go to School, provides excerpts from the journals of young people who took to heart the author's advice in The Teenage Liberation Handbook. It chronicles the teens' experiences after they left high school, and into their mid-twenties in the revised edition. Similarly, Freedom Challenge: Essays by African American Homeschoolers, Llewellyn's third book, presents testimonials from African-American teens who have chosen the home-school alternative outlined in the author's books. "The narratives are strong stuff," observed Bloomsbury Review contributor Patricia J. Wagner, who was moved by the contributors' accounts of institutionalized racism in predominantly white schools. "Whatever the quality of the nation's public schools," began Mary Carroll in a Booklist review of this title, "it's clear African-American students are particularly affected by their weaknesses." As in Llewellyn's earlier works, this book emphasizes the benefits in raised self-esteem and improved relations with others, within the family and the community, through taking one's education back from the public school system. "This is not a handbook as much as it is a collection of revelations about the power of learning and love," Wagner concluded.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Christian Home Educator's Curriculum Manual: Junior/Senior High, Grove Press (New York, NY), 1992.

PERIODICALS

Bloomsbury Review, September, 1992, Pat Wagner, review of The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education; March-April, 1996, Patricia J. Wagner, review of Freedom Challenges: Essays by African American Homeschoolers, p. 31.

Booklist, October 15, 1991, Stephanie Zvirin, review of The Teenage Liberation Handbook; January 1, 1996, Mary Carroll, review of Freedom Challenges, p. 758.

Northern California Homeschool Association Newsletter, February-March, 1992, Pam Gingold, review of The Teenage Liberation Handbook.

Observer (London, England), June 8, 1997, Martin Bright, review of The Teenage Liberation Handbook.

Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 1992, Christy Tyson, review of The Teenage Liberation Handbook, pp. 58-59.

ONLINE

Grace Llewellyn Home Page, http://www.gracellewellyn.com (December 2, 2005).