Self-inquiry, unlearning, and reparenting.
My returning guest Akilah Richards is back to explore why compulsory schooling can cause harm and how we can counteract this harm through what Akilah calls "the beautiful mess."
As we de-school our minds and bodies from the oppressive ways we ourselves have been schooled, we find new opportunities for transforming the ways we might be unintentionally "schooling" our children to be what they are not.
Growing up, my sense of worth was always tied to my "performance" in school or in others words- my report card. My grades seemed to tell my parents quite a bit about my character and potential and my poor marks were often a great source of suffering for me. If I could not make the grades in school then my freedom was often taken away at home and I spent many a night sitting at the kitchen table laboring over worksheets terrified of being shamed again for not understanding what seemed to be a "simple" math equation. My lack of "getting it" just seemed to make things worse for me, so I stopped asking questions and began performing my learning instead of truly learning.
By the time college rolled around my self esteem was in the dumpster. I was convinced I was a lost cause, and because I was not allowed to accept the art scholarship I was offered, I enrolled in a small college as an English Major because at least I could read and write.
It wasn't until I became an entrepreneur that I came to realize my own intelligence. I noticed that I thrived in social situations, was great at seeing patterns, easily understood difficult concepts and how to convey them more simply for other people, and could easily see solutions to problems that seemed to elude others. At some point, I realized that my intelligence was simply different and could never have been measured through standardized testing.
I attended nine schools in total. Only one of those schools ever made me feel my value and gave me the space to be myself- someone with dignity and potential. My brief time in grade 6-8 at The Detroit Waldorf School was a gift, (thank you, Mr. McNair and my parents who kept trying to find me a place where I might thrive).
I vowed never to put my children through what I had endured, but alas these engrained programs run deep, and I perpetuated harm on my children by falling into the trap of measuring their potential by their marks which they have both expressed as a terrible feeling.
When we standardize humans and grade them, we de-grade them. When we call it learning but primarily teach kids to recite back what we've taught them then it's not called learning, it's called reciting and obeying.
Obedience and conformity are a huge part of standardized education, and when you start peeling back the layers, what starts to get revealed is how we got to this place where many of us don't even know who we are when we are not being graded, validated, measured, punished or rewarded.
Who are we then without that?
- Deschooling is about reframing our role as parents and learning to reparent ourselves.
- How can we reframe our role as parents without the habits of control and power over our children?
- Most of our lived experience in standardized education has been normalized, and yet it’s the cause of grave harm at many levels.
- How chaos can teach us far more about ourselves than order and why resistance is a trustworthy roadmap.
- How can we experience awkwardness and disruption as gifts to deepen relationships with our children and foster trust?
- Why “mad question asking” is a necessary part of the deschooling process.
- Why self-directed education offers our children more freedom to be who they are.
- Why schoolish ideas persist in our culture and how we can change the status quo through the unschooling movement.
- Why “learning loss” is schoolish and not a thing to be concerned about.
- Why we need more than rules, tools, and “bad adult” guilt trips
- How to interrupt and disrupt the impact of colonization so that we can learn to trust ourselves and our children.
- Why silence is such a great teacher and why we must practice sitting within the pauses as part of our deschooling journey.
- Deschooling is about reckoning with the systems that have dehumanized us, and unlearning the behavior that causes us to dehumanize others.
- Deschooling helps break the cycle of intergenerational trauma that conditions us to give another power and agency over our minds, bodies, thoughts and actions.
- Deschooling is reclaiming our sovereignty so that we can make informed choices and participate through consent with the world around us vs. being forced to obey authority without question. =
To listen to my first episode with Akilah click the link below:
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