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SUMMER SERIES: Akilah S. Richards – Raising Free People

By Revelation Project

About this Episode

I loved my conversation with Akilah S. Richards and walked away with a much deeper understanding of the value of unschooling in America. Conventional schooling is deeply rooted in colonization, industrial progress, and control over our personal autonomy.

Akilah is passionate about mindful partnerships and parenting. Since 2016 she has hosted Fare of the Free Child, a lifestyle and parenting podcast about the connection between liberation, learning, and parenting, particularly among Black, Non-Black Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. Parents, educators, unschoolers, and entrepreneurs tune in weekly to connect about unschooling, deschooling, conscious parenting, and self-directedness. Discussions center around emotional wellness, learning and children, parenting, self-care, and self-love. The voice and work of this Jamaican-born, digital nomad have been featured on NPR, Forbes, NBC TV, Good Morning America’s blog, and in several literary and in-person spaces throughout the U.S., Jamaica, and South Africa. The TEDx Speaker, digital content writer, and facilitator’s highly-anticipated book Raising Free People: Unschooling as Liberation and Healing Work (PM Press), will be released in the Fall of 2020.

“We can’t keep using tools of oppression and raise free people.” -Akilah Richards

  • Unschooling is a life design choice but it’s also deeply linked to liberation and the idea of raising free people.
  • Akilah’s children, Marley and Sage, had a consistent level of pushback when attending conventional school and at one point, Akilah and her partner Chris started to listen to what their children were saying.
  • While the girls were accelerating academically, they were shrinking emotionally.
  • They had stopped asking questions, which is a very “schoolish” thing.
  • Akilah and Chris wanted their children to have agency and autonomy and the journey has revealed a tremendous tie into the work of liberation.
  • Unschooling started as an experiment based on what Akilah and Chris knew was not working.
  • This began a process of “mad question asking.”
  • The way of the world is schooling – is our job as parents to acclimate our children to that?
  • The idea of unschooling is to help your child create a trustful relationship to learning.
  • The American Dream seems deeply entrenched in this idea of conventional education as the only way.
  • Unschooling started as an experiment based on what Akilah and Chris knew was not working.
  • When they left conventional education they discovered that there were many rewards – many freedoms with travel and finances that they had not previously recognized or been able to take advantage of.
  • A lot of what we see as educational issues are really issues of human relationships.
  • Unschooling creates an environment to question and unlearn.
  • Questions are the path.
  • Mad question asking brings us inward into the feminine – how do you want to feel?
  • In our school system, children are rewarded when they comply.
  • Parents worry about socialization, but socialization happens everywhere but school.
  • All people are indoctrinated into the “system,” but when you walk around in a Black body there is another level of suppression of your personhood which is why creating safe environments for BIPOC children to learn and develop confident autonomy is so important.
  • Unschooling isn’t just for rich people.
  • The pandemic is offering us opportunities and parents are noticing a positive shift in their children.
  • Covid is an opportunity to create a new normal in many ways including our relationship to education.
  • Liberation comes with responsibility and accountability.
  • It is time to decolonize our ideas of learning

“The resistance is the roadmap, not a route to something else.”