The Re-imagined Learning Centre recently hosted a discussion titled My Education, My Liberation.
Facebook Event description:
A conversation on the practical and theoretical practise of education. through the lenses of self directed education. We will also breakdown what freedom in education looks like and how we can create liberatory practices in ourselves , in our community and in our learning.
There was so much to reflect on after that afternoon together in community. The following few points I think are coherent enough to share. The rest of my reflections are still percolating.
Our language of communication is English. Please excuse me for stating the obvious, but it’s relevant to the reflection. As we were struggling with words, I started reflecting on the culture this English language is rooted in. I noticed a particular difficulty in finding the ‘right’ words’ to express the sentiments and processes we were talking about. Is it possible that these sentiments and processes are rather foreign to this culture that English emerges out of. Perhaps the words for the concepts and practices related to education and liberation don’t exist? Words that convey set of values and related practices. Words like Ubuntu or Ahimsa
Following on Che-vanni’s thoughts shared at #LRC2018, about the words human and inhuman and his question about what having a word like inhuman implies about a culture. Does this culture then invite/accept/make probable the possibility of being inhuman? Which got me thinking about the words that exist and don’t exist in different languages and what that says about the cultures they emerge from.
For example, do the words/phrases like healthy, educated, environmentally conscious exist in original cultures where being healthy was a default, learning was not separated from living (I’m thinking about the cultures of the Indigenous people in what is currently known as the Americas ), or living in harmony with the natural environment was natural. So what does it mean in a culture where we define people as educated or uneducated, literate or illiterate?
Interesting side note that came to mind. Apparently in the 14 Indian languages in use in India, there is no root word for the equivalent English word of teach. What does this say about the difference in approaches to education in the two cultures?
It was fascinating/disturbing to witness how we were struggling to engage on the meanings and limits of freedom. We’re so far removed from living with freedom that it was actually challenging for us to articulate ourselves. It was nonetheless wonderful to explore the concept in community.
Speaking of limits to freedom, one freedom that I feel we don’t use enough is freedom of words. We got bogged down with semantics more than once during our discussions. I’d love to see us embrace this freedom and disrupt language and words, to enhance, reclaim or change the meanings of words, to combine words in novel ways and to feel free to release ourselves from words that don’t resonate. I’m wondering why we choose not to find a word or phrase that works for us without having the need for acceptance or widespread adoption. Words are the one thing we don’t need permission to use in life. It’s ours to create meaning with. Sure there will be push back and maybe even ridicule. But if we’re not in marketing, we don’t really need to care right? Nobody has the authority to stop us from experimenting with words. It’s everyone’s freedom.
In as much as the word unschooling is about freedom, it is one of those hated-loved words and yet many don’t exercise their freedom to simply drop it in favour of another word or to create a completely new one. (P.S. I like the word – I share why here).
I relish the idea of disrupting language and words and creating new vocabulary that conveys living and learning in partnership. Nabrija understood that confining the meaning of words and consolidating language was a tool of thought control. I’m hoping that part of exploring education and liberation is the disruption of language and the freeing of our minds.
Mother | Wife | Unschooler | Education Freedom Advocate | Child Rights Advocate | Learning Reimagined Conference Convenor | She/Her
For the last 25 years, Zakiyya has been experimenting with living and learning in freedom, also known as unschooling. She is an advocate for freedom in education. Her three children have never been to school, living instead as if the idea of schooling doesn’t exist. She has been supporting and has been consistently sharing her reflections on the intersections of unschooling with decolonisation, social change and unschooling’s foundational role in social justice. She convened the Learning Reimagined Conferences of 2017 and 2018, both groundbreaking in their own rights with the 2018 conference being the first conference globally to focus on the socio-political dimensions of Unschooling, Decolonisation and Social Change.