DSM: Let's start something big

From: Howard, Jason M (JHoward@clarku.edu)
Date: Sat Feb 09 2002 - 02:46:42 EST

Hi everyone,

I'm a 19 year old aspiring revolutionary in the field of alternative
education. I live in Worcester, Massachusetts and I'm studying government,
philosophy, and physics at Clark University. I've been very interested in
education for about 4 years. Maybe I'm too confident in myself. I feel that
I'm the one who will flip society's conception of education upside down,
once and for all. I really don't know what to prepare for what's to come --
I'll just try to learn as much as possible about this world we live in, in
the meantime. If anyone has any advice on how to get to that point, I'm
always open to suggestions.

I don't know how people on this list feel about Grace Llewellyn, (although,
since she speaks highly of Daniel Greenberg, I assume I won't be offending
anyone by mentioning her name.) I have written a short persuasive spiel in
an effort to proselytize the ideas in Llewellyn's "The Teenage Liberation
Handbook: how to quit school and get a real life and education," which I
will post below if you're interested.

I really don't understand why it's so hard to get the ideas of free and
democratic education out to the general public (despite the necessary
paradigm shift). It seems to me that the education revolution will come in
one big wave, but I don't know why, or when, or how that will happen. But I
want to MAKE it happen. I've often fantasized of inciting rebellions at one
school at a time. Recently I've been doing everything I can, with the
Internet as my main resource, to convince people (especially teenagers) of
the dangers of public and curriculum-based education, and to show them there
are other options available. Although all public education is dangerous, I'm
especially worried about Massachusetts and its MCAS -- which makes the issue
more than ridiculous, and it hurts to laugh. It's very depressing to see
some of my younger friends constantly complaining about their homework, and
how they need to read this much by tomorrow and do so many worksheets. I
feel like telling them, "well, just don't do it, it's not GOOD for you!" And
I have. But you can't be persuasive enough.

I tried to write my recommendation of Grace's book in such a way that the
most important critical questions are addressed at the very beginning. I
don't know if it's any good -- but I will post it here, and anyone who
thinks it's worthwhile to make changes, etc.. feel free to do so... anything
to reach out to people about this revolution.




I just have to get this off my chest. I'm going to ask a favor of you. For
your own benefit.

Have you ever hated something so passionately that it felt like the true
opposite of love? And did you feel helpless when you realized it would be
almost impossible to destroy the object of that hatred? That's how I felt
about school. I felt helpless in high school. I feel helpless now -- because
there's nothing I can do except recommend this book to everyone I talk to:
"The Teenage Liberation Handbook: how to quit school and get a real life and
education," by Grace Llewellyn.

Whether you're planning on going to college or not, and whether you're
getting good grades or not -- even if you're 10 years old and you don't
think you're old enough to drop out of school -- you might be surprised --
this book might be for you. (Besides, this isn't quite the same as dropping
out; in this case, it's more like "RISING OUT" of school.)

It's truly one of the best and most enlightening books I've ever read. It's
fascinating whether or not you're a teen or an adult, and whether or not
agree with the main premise of the book (that school is a hindrance to
learning, and quitting is the best alternative). It's about how to rekindle
your natural passion for learning, how to explore the world's possibilities
-- and if you're young enough to still have the opportunity, how to quit
school and get a real education.

It's not a short, self-help book for teenagers, with lots of cartoons,
explaining why school like, uh, sucks. It's not a book that leaves you
wanting more information -- it's chock-full of it. It's over 420 pages full
of information and things many people have never even considered. Not just
about quitting school -- it's about how anyone can live a more full life by
learning all the time. Read it with an open mind and get what you can out of

I get so depressed when I think of all the kids whose self-esteem and
creativity are lost to the totalitarian educational institution! I think
schools provoke too much unneeded frustration; I think schools are the
reason the crime rate is as high as it is; and I think schools are the main
cause of mental health problems in our society. It doesn't matter if you
agree with me. I just want to spread the word... I'll feel guilty if I

(You can probably find the book at a good library or buy it at a bookstore).
Worcester Public Library has a copy. Read the amazon.com reviews. I
underestimated them before I read it for myself (which is why it took me a
year before I read it).


And if you read it and you want to help my cause my recommending this book
to friends, I'd appreciate it! Send it along to anyone you think would be
interested. If not, it'd be interesting to know what your opinions are.

Here's the text on the back cover of the book, which gives a very broad idea
of what's contained therein:

"Your life, time, and brain should belong to you, not an institution. This
Handbook is for everyone who has ever gone to school, but it is especially a
book for teenagers and people with teenagers in their lives. You'll read:

good reasons to think about quitting school
how to reclaim your natural ability to learn and teach yourself
how to get your parents' support, keep your friends [and make new ones],
and stay out of legal trouble
how to design a personalized education you can get excited about
how to go to college without going to high school
how to find volunteer positions, apprenticeships, and other work
how other unschooled teenagers live and learn"

I know this sounds like an ad. I really have no affiliation with the author,
just a strong belief in a cause. And if you do read this book, I'm sure
you'll be surprised at how much sense it makes. (I can recommend other books
on similar subjects if you're interested). If you hate school, but think you
don't have any other choice in the matter (or you know someone who feels
that way), isn't this something at least worth looking into?

Again, if you know friends who would be interested, pass this along.

At the very least, it'll help me sleep tonight to know you've at least heard
of this book. I already got the guidance office at my old high school to
keep it in their bookshelf. The guidance counselor thought it was a great
resource to have available, so I think that's a victory in itself. And if
you should decide to look into it, more power to you.


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