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Guerrilla Learning

reviewed by Beverley Paine

Written by Amy Silver and Grace Llewellyn (of The Teenage Liberation Handbook), Guerrilla Learning is packed with ideas on how to give your children a real education - with or without schools. Revolutionary and inspiring, Guerrilla Learning explains what's wrong (and what's useful) about our traditional school and shows you how to take charge of your family's education to raise thinking, creative young people despite the constraints of traditional schooling.

In a nutshell, Guerrilla Learning means taking responsibility for your own education." It means supporting your children to think clearly and seriously about their goals, interests, and values, then act accordingly. It's about being encouraging your children to emulate your example of thinking, reading, discussing and creating, and continuously engaging in the world of ideas and culture. The authors show how parents can help their children can get a real education by helping the child find something about which they are interested, and proceed from there.

This book is peppered with "exercises" for you and your kids to do, to put into practice their ideas and help reinforce this way of thinking about education. I found most of the ideas familiar, but it was great to see them listed together in a practical, useful "program" that any family can easily follow. Grace and Amy describe their "Five Keys to Guerrilla Learning" - opportunity , timing , interest , freedom and support - to help parents understand how to make guerrilla learning a part of their own and their children's world. They expand on these key concepts in detail, offering examples of real learners, who sometimes stumble, but always pick themselves up as they find out what works and what doesn't, because they want to. Guerrilla Learning is about owning your own educational process. I've always found that to be the key to success in any area of my life.

Don't just expose your kids to life's possibilities (arts, science, history, community, etc.) without overdoing it, the parent should also stay passionate and involved in learning. The enthusiasm will be contagious.

If your child is not progressing according to some school bureaucrat's schedule, don't panic. Not every child learns at the same speed. Early bloomers may need extra stimulation to keep them interested. Late bloomers may simply need time and extra help.

Honour your child's passions, even if it something of which you disapprove. Children are her to grow into the best person they can be, not what the parent or anyone else thinks they should be. Also know when to back off.

Give the child the chance to take on projects and solve problems. Make it clear that promises are expected to be kept, and also make clear the consequnces for broken promises.

Be there for your kids. Supporting children does not equal martyrdom. Check to see how much support they need or want. Make sure their goals stay theirs. Well-being is most important.

Everyone knows that the key to success at school lies in having parents who take an interest in education: Guerrilla Learning builds on this idea to show families how to reach that often elusive goal. Not all families can homeschool and some families find themselves driven by necessity to enrol their children in school. Not all is lost though - in this book Grace and Amy deliver a reassuring, down-to-earth, and practical guide for giving children a real education, with or without schools.

To use John Taylor Gatto's words, Guerrilla Learning is a "big-hearted book of important ideas". It explains, in no-nonsense language, what's wrong with traditional schools and shows families how to ensure they raise thinking, creative young people, imbued with a life-long love for learning. Guerrilla learning is "colouring outside the lines, finding the shortest direction between two points, moving directly toward goals, doing the best you can with what you you've got to work with now, making what you want for your kids and what they want for themselves as real as you can, asking people for specific kinds of help, getting out of theory land and into the trenches."

I've been a "guerrilla learner" for years, taught this process by watching my children embrace life with natural curiosity and enthusiasm. In the beginning it was hard for me to give up the need to control, to grade, to tick checklists and work through a curriculum designed by others for traditional classroom use. Slowly I learned that learning is "letting your daughter read her stack of library books instead of finishing her homework. supporting your son to drop out of college [high school] and investing his savings in his new Internet business instead. volunteering in the ticket booth at a community based dance series, so that you and your family can attend for free. It's reading and writing and building and enterprising and listening to music and doing and discussing all these things with your kids. It's continuously reawakening your own intellectual vitality (or rediscovering it, if you've misplaced it) and sharing it with your children." This is another book I wish had been available two decades ago!

Amy and Grace say "In a nutshell, Guerrilla Learning means taking responsibility for your own education." It means supporting your children to think clearly and seriously about their goals, interests, and values, then act accordingly. It's about being encouraging your children to emulate your example of thinking, reading, discussing and creating, and continuously engaging in the world of ideas and culture.

It was in my mind to write a book like this one day soon, but now I don't have to! I couldn't say what is in my heart and mind as well as Grace and Amy have articulated this common-sense approach to learning and education. I hope it helps parents to relax and worry less about the educational process and to instil a life-long love of learning in the whole family.

You'll find the book on Amazon or any good online bookstore.

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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.

Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

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Welcome to the World of Home Education
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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine

The information on this website is of a general nature only and is not intended as personal or professional advice. This site merges and incorporates 'Homeschool Australia' and 'Unschool Australia'.

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