20/21 October, 2018
UNSCHOOLING AS DECOLONISATION
African Leadership Academy, Johannesburg, South Africa
20/21 October, 2018
UNSCHOOLING AS DECOLONISATION
African Leadership Academy, Honeydew, South Africa
About Learning Reimagined
The Learning Reimagined Conference facilitates provocative conversations and inspiring practices in radically reimagining education. The underlying principles of these intergenerational events are freedom and social justice. To this end, this family conference aims to create a safe space for discussions and idea-sharing around the personal, interpersonal and systemic spheres in how they relate to reimagining learning, parenting and community. We explore self directed education, demonstrate collaborative learning communities, engage in lots of creative activities, host a documentary screening and a talent show (open to all ages)! The 2017 Learning Reimagined Conference had a broad focus. We touched on reimagining learning, we learned from the experiences of grown unschoolers, we heard about living and learning in freedom and authentic learning, explored worldschooling, the importance of play, learning to read naturally and learned about scientific thinking being an innately human process. This year’s Learning Reimagined Conference theme is Unschooling as Decolonisation. Join us to explore how unschooling as a way of living and learning can be a powerful tool towards decolonisation, and towards a socially just, joyous world. It is an absolute honour to host Akilah S. Richards, Adebayo C. Akomolafe and Kaolin Thomson Woods as our featured speakers for Learning Reimagined 2018. Looking forward to dreaming and scheming together with you.
Looking Back on Learning Reimagined
on Learning Reimagined
AKILAH S. RICHARDS
writer | mama | partner | podcaster | digital nomad | unschooling activist
We cannot keep using tools of oppression and expect to raise free people.
Akilah S. Richards is an unschooling podcaster, writer, and founding board member of The Alliance for Self-Directed Education. Her work both challenges and encourages social justice minded people to explore privilege and power in their relationships with children. In her own family, Akilah, her partner, and their two daughters, use unschooling as a tool for decolonizing education and liberating themselves from oppressive, exclusive systems. Find her conversations and commentary at Fare of the Free Child Podcast where Akilah supports, connects, and highlights people of color designing their own liberation through Self-Directed Education and love-centered community building. Akilah’s website is the number one stop for tools on raising free people through her writing, podcasts and speaking schedule.
ADEBAYO C. AKOMOLAFE
poet | philosopher | psychologist | professor | passionate about the preposterous
The times are urgent, let us slow down.
Bayo Akomolafe (Ph.D.) considers his most sacred work to be learning how to be with his daughter and son, Alethea Aanya and Kyah Jayden – and their mother, his wife and “life-nectar”, Ijeoma. “To learn the importance of insignificance” is the way he frames a desire to reacquaint himself with a world that is irretrievably entangled, preposterously alive and completely partial. Bayo was born in 1983 into a Christian home, and to Yoruba parents in western Nigeria. Losing his diplomat father to a sudden heart complication, Bayo became a reclusive teenager, seeking to get to the “heart of the matter” as a response to his painful loss. He sought to apply himself to the extremes of his social conditioning, his faith, and his eventual training as a clinical psychologist – only to find that something else beyond articulation was tugging at his sleeves, wanting to be noticed. After meeting with traditional healers as part of his quest to understand trauma, mental wellbeing and healing in new ways, his deep questions and concerns for decolonized landscapes congealed into a life devoted to exploring the nuances of a “magical” world “too promiscuous to fit neatly into our fondest notions of it.” A renegade academic, lecturer, speaker, and proud diaper-changer, Bayo curates an earth-wide organization (The Emergence Network) for the re-calibration of our ability to respond to civilizational crisis – a project framed within a feminist ethos and inspired by indigenous cosmologies. He considers this a shared art – exploring the edges of the intelligible, dancing with posthumanist ideas, dabbling in the mysteries of quantum mechanics and the liberating sermon of an ecofeminism text, and talking with others about how to host a festival of radical silence on a street in London – and part of his inner struggle to regain a sense of rootedness to his community. He also hosts a course (We Will Dance with Mountains) among other offerings. In short, Bayo has given up his longing for the “end-time” and is learning to live in the “mean time”. In the middle, where we must live with confusion and make do with partial answers. His greatest vocation is however learning to be a satellite orbiting his greatest gift, his goddess Ijeoma, and knowing the blessings of her gravity. He speaks and teaches about his experiences around the world, and then returns to his adopted home in Chennai, India – “where the occasional whiff of cow dung dancing in the air is another invitation to explore the vitality of a world that is never still and always surprising.” Bayo has authored two books, ‘We Will Tell Our Own Story!’ and ‘These Wilds Beyond our Fences: Letters to My Daughter on Humanity’s Search for Home’
KAOLIN THOMSON WOODS
parent | researcher | musician | artist | educator
Learning To Transgress: Learning as a Practice of Freedom
For the past three years, seasoned musician, artist, educator, researcher and parent, Kaolin Thomson, has focussed her research on unschooling, self-directed learning, and the impact this has on our way of seeing the world. Recently completing her Masters of Art, Fine Art, at Wits University, Kaolin revisits her exhibition titled Learning to Transgress, Learning as a Practice of Freedom. Kaolin’s work with her own children as co-researchers draws on the powerful writing of leading voices such as Sir Ken Robinson, John Holt, Peter Gray, bell hooks, Paulo Freire, Phil Jones, Gunther Kress and Stanley Milgram. The intimate nature of the methodology and practice, she had to consider her own identity, role and collusion as a parent and teacher within this system that she is critiquing. Some of the themes that have distilled in this process have been the partnership of colonisation, christianity and capitalism in South African education, white supremacy, discipline vs punishment, sexism, patriarchy, racism, homophobia, mental health, children’s rights, collaboration vs coercion, perpetuation of industrial age teaching practices, and the hierarchy of languages, symbols and “subjects”. Never scared of controversy, Kaolin takes a hard, critical look at schooling and its underlying colonial agenda.
In 1996, Kaolin was awarded the Martienssen Prize for the best final year art work at Wits. The work, titled Useful Objects but more famously known as The Vagina Ashtray, skyrocketed the artist to notoriety, and she was later named one of the Mail & Guardian’s newsmakers of the year. She followed this with the release of the critically acclaimed single and album with her band, Naked, which cemented her position as a cutting edge and critical artist in the feminist discourse. She continued to collaborate on several international projects, including the highly acclaimed One Giant Leap, which included the voices of Baaba Maal, Robbie Williams, Michael Stipe and Faithless, and she recorded with Brian Eno (David Bowie, U2, Coldplay, Roxy Music) in South Africa and the UK. She released her debut solo album titled All I Am, and was awarded a SAMA for best pop album. She then formed a film company with her late husband, and together they worked on adventure films. She went on to write music for several documentaries including for National Geographic and Discovery TV. Never shying from a challenge, in 2005 Kaolin was awarded provincial athletics colours for the marathon and half marathon, and she competed in both disciplines at the National Championships. The same year, she had her first solo exhibition of paintings. Titled The Colour of F, the show focussed on sexual identity, and was a sellout success. Soon after that, she moved with her young family to the KZN Midlands, where she found herself drawn into arts education, and by 2010, she was appointed HOD Arts and Culture at the local private school. Tragically, she lost her husband in a mountain climbing accident that same year. She continued to work in arts education, but became increasingly frustrated and disillusioned with the education system, and eventually resigned in 2015 to focus on furthering her studies which has culminated in this research. Her two youngest children do not attend formal schooling and are active unschoolers.
AFRICAN LEADERSHIP ACADEMY
The African Leadership Academy Campus is located in a beautiful green oasis in Honeydew, Gauteng. The venue boasts beautiful rolling lawns, an auditorium, break out rooms and much more. It is the perfect space for conferencing Learning Reimagined style. But you don’t have to wait until the conference to check out this amazing space, just head over to their website to get a virtual tour. If you are coming from out of Johannesburg / South Africa there’s some great information on discovering Johannesburg, some information on getting to Jhb and accommodation options close to the venue.
Hi Everybody I am very excited about presenting some of my work at the conference. I am even more interested to hear about, see, showcase and, most importantly, celebrate our collective unschooling experiences: The learning that takes place in the most radical,...read more
Please join us online in conversation with Adebayo C. Akomolafe What happens when we sit with uncertainty not as an obstacle but as a partner? What changes when we think of our children as agents of their own learning adventures? What becomes different when we rethink...read more
I’ve been asked why Unschooling as Decolonisation as a theme for the Learning Reimagined Conference? Maybe more of you are wondering, so here goes. There aren’t any other unschooling conferences dealing with this topic. There’s a saying that if the kind book you’re...read more
Welcome to Johannesburg - Or Jozi as we locals like to call it! We imagine that most families attending the conference will be local Jozi residents. We do know that there will be quite a few families coming from further afield. Welcome! Firstly a brief history. The...read more
Huge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you to Zakiyya Ismail and Claire Madgwick for curating and creating the Learning Reimagined Family Conference this has provided so much reinforcement to the change taking place in the world , One love to all those who came to share in the community of love and learning!!!!!Ché-vanni Beon Davids
I would like to thank Kaameel for being so professional and doing a fantastic job of announcing and coordinating during the conference.Ronel Kelso
I’ve been meaning to write a post to express our utmost appreciation to Zakiyya and Claire Madgwick primarily – and all their helpers and support systems – for a sterling job of arranging a most fabulous conference! The time, effort and planning must’ve been pretty tough at times, but the result was an unforgettable weekend of fun, connecting, learning, brilliant speakers, scrumptious food and refreshments. Meeting so many like-minded people in that beautiful environment was more than I could’ve wished for. Thank you doesn’t cut it really. NamastéHelen Smith
A great thank you to Zakiyya Ismail and Claire Madgwick for investing a years worth of effort putting together this amazing weekend to build a community willing to reimagine learning. Thank you all for attending, it was such a privilege to meet you and share experiences with you. Till we meet again, I wish you well in your journeys…..Ahmed Chicktay
A transformative experience.Siraj Ghoor
What an amazing weekend. Thank you Zakiyya Ismail and Claire Madgwick for making this weekend possible. To all the fun zone Co ordinators thank you for making the fun zone such a special place. To the speakers thank you for taking the time to spend the weekend with us, sharing. As for the caterers you were 7 star. The food, the service outstanding. And for me it was an honour to reconnect and meet so many like minded families. We are growing.Vernita Reddy
Thank you Zakiyya Ismail and your team for a truly amazing conference filled with support, ideas and freedom.Kym Van Straaten
Thank you so much for the wonderful 2 days I have spend with all of you, big people and small people. It was truly wonderful to see the kids having a great time and getting to know each and every single one of them. I do have to apologize for Monday Laundry day.Sonita Young
What a fabulous, mind-expanding, connecting and empowering weekend I had with my boys at this extraordinary event. Thank-you to everyone involved!Ariadne Laura Draudsing Palmos
An amazing unlearning opportunity!!! Thank you to Zakiyya Ismail and Claire Madgwick for orchestrating the Learning Reimagined Family Conference. Also many thanks to all the awesome speakers who have made us realise that we need to change our thinking to change ourselves and then our communities and ultimately the world! Personal Community Sectoral SystemicFatima Mookadam
It was an amazing and very thought provoking experience. Thank you everyone for making this possible.Kaolin Thomson Woods
What was started all those years ago, and with how far it’s come, the aftereffects of this weekend will make this grow by leaps and bounds. This has been a dream come true for so many of us, and I’m incredibly grateful to all the wonderful souls for the prepwork and the legwork (and the cleanup!) to bring this to life. South Africa has been gifted, and self-directed learning will continue to gain the steady momentum it has, but it’ll now have the added fire of what was created during these two days to propel it forward. THANK YOU!!!Nadja Bester