The Homeschool Liberation League
by Lucy Frank
Speaking to teenagers’ need for independence, author Lucy Frank’s The Homeschool Liberation League follows Katya on her search for an alternative to traditional public education. Katya – who until recently went by Kaity – has just returned from a summer spent in the outdoors, immersed in experiential environmental education. While away from home at camp, she recognizes how liberating it is to be in a learning environment in which she has the freedom to let her curiosity lead her learning, and how powerful it is to have adult support while engaging in self-directed learning.
Back home in Connecticut, however, Katya’s new-found independence and worldview (and not to mention name) don’t mesh well with the firm belief in public education held by her parents. Katya is able to convince her parents to let her try homeschooling, even though their idea of homeschooling looks almost exactly like school – except that it takes place in her mother’s beauty salon. While spending time with her mother’s geriatric regulars turns out to be much more educational than anyone anticipated thanks to the power of intergenerational environments, Katya still feels stifled by the predetermined curricula fed to her via daily instructional matrices.
Through a series of semi-secret adventures out into her community, Katya begins to develop a network of friends and allies of all ages who – both knowingly and unknowingly – support her in her self-schooling endeavors. A notoriously grumpy neighbor turns out to be an amateur naturalist with an extensive nature museum; searches for wild edibles lead to the discovery of a violin-playing home-schooling teen; the rescue of a beaver from under a fallen log leads to an unlikely friendship and connections to wildlife biologists; old friendships test the foundation of Katya’s unschooling philosophy; and travels with other un- and homeschooled teens bring about the discovery of a school the likes of which is all new to Katya. Though things don’t quite end up the way that Katya imagined, her journey leads to important self-discoveries, opens many doors, and teaches her the true meaning of both freedom and responsibility.
While the story itself is somewhat simplistic, the complexity with which the idea of nontraditional education is considered is perfect for young teenage audiences. Katya tests her teenage confidence and independence in safe, productive, and inspired ways, and learns important lessons about the importance of advocating for herself and pursuing her own curiosity. Young teenagers – whether traditionally schooled or not – can easily relate to and learn from Katya’s experiences, and can use the book as a catalyst for explorations of their own educational philosophy and desires.
Using our literature guide, families can explore the idea of community-based, self-directed learning together. Critical thinking questions help to support readers in thinking deeply about the roots of Katya’s need for control over her education, and the reasons for her confidence in pursuing this path. A mini-lesson centered around the design of self-directed studies supports readers in considering the ways in which they might connect their learning to community resources, and suggestions for extension activities encourage readers to explore metacognition, educational theory and policy, persuasive writing, and the idea of liberation.
- Download Literary Guide for Homeschool Liberation League