For the Love of Learning Episode 25
Unschooling Around the World
Monday July 20, 2015 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm EST
Tuesday July 21, 2015 1:00 am – 3:00 am BST
Ej Clement Akomolafe
Tami Spry Stroud
Tonight we will speak with three very special woman from around the world who are unschooling their children. What is unschooling? It is an educational method and philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. Unschooling students learn through natural life experiences which include play, household responsibilities, personal interests, curiosity, internships and work experience, books, elective classes, family, mentors, social interaction, travel and the world around them. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the more personal learning is, the more meaningful, and deep the learning will be.
Tonight we’ll exploring unschooling with our three incredible panelists from around the world and have the opportunity to see what the world around them looks like and how it influences the unschooling world of their children.
Tonight’s conversation is guaranteed to be enlightening, for sure!
Bios of Tonight’s Guests:
Ej Clement Akomolafe
TIjeoma ‘Ej’ Clement-Akomolafe is a prolific author, speaker, lecturer, Doctor of Applied Biology and Biotechnology at Covenant University, Nigeria. She is currently on a two-year sabbatical with her husband (also a lecturer at Covenant University).
Ej is of Indian, Iranian, English and African descent. Ej was born in Chennai in 1984, and obtained most of her education in the city. After graduating summa cum laude from the Women’s Christian College, Chennai, Ej proceeded to seek a doctorate degree in one of Nigeria’s most prestigious universities, Covenant University, where she lectures. For her PhD work, Ej focused ambitiously on discovering new antimalarial compounds in previously untested indigenous plants and their associated therapies. It was during this time that she experienced a seismic shift in her perceptual framework – a profound challenge to her previously hegemonic assumptions about the way the world works. She started to grow increasingly suspicious of the biomedical industry and drug production praxis; she questioned whether health and wellbeing were truly the end results of her labours in the laboratory. Her new paradigm-altering questions inspired further investigations into some of the hidden assumptions that have shaped her experiences, hopes and expectations as an educator, a scientist and a social innovator.
Ej is no longer comfortable with being called a ‘biotechnologist’; her desire to explore disenfranchised learning contexts external to institutionalized public schooling, and ‘protect’ indigenous ways of knowing and healing from the exploitative dynamics of the academic-consumerist-industrial complex moved her to co-imagine a trans-local platform for social emancipatory practices – called Koru. Now married to a Nigerian, Ej is most proud of her small moments, her dreamy garden wedding a year ago, her burgeoning backyard garden, the opportunities to relate with her students in subversively empowering ways, and the shared vision to transit from her lifestyle of independence to sacred interdependence and local community.
Ej is conceptualizing a small social network devoted to radical food sharing and organic farming at local platforms. She calls this movement ‘Singing Seeds’. She loves traveling, and speaks French, Tamil, and three other Indian languages. She is a passionate mother to Alethea-Aanya and life-partner to Bayo.
Zakiyya Ismail grew up in the dark days of apartheid in South Africa with it’s racially segregated suburbs and racially segregated education system. She was 23 when South Africa held it’s first inclusive elections and she celebrated with the rest of the country at the exhilaration of voting for the first time. But she wasn’t that excited about the opening up of the school system. She was still trying to figure out what the hype was about. It still looked like drill and kill to her. So even before the kids, she and her husband spent an endless amount of time thinking of ways to change how children are educated. So when children arrived, it was natural progression to simply opt out from school. Finding support was a major challenge as nobody in her circle supported her decision to homeschool – let alone unschool the kids. Especially for a person of colour – not when so many people had fought for the opening up of the school systems. While it was impossible to connect with other unschooling families in the flesh, the internet provided a lifeline in those dark and doubtful moments. Having survived, the first few years, Zakiyya decided that there was a definite need to form a supportive community that can provide the much needed support that she never had. With that in mind, the Unschoolers in South Africa Facebook group was formed to connect unschoolers and to provide support to people exploring the concept. Five years ago the idea of an Unschoolers Camp was also born. This November (2015) will be the 5th annual unschoolers camp. Her partner and 3 kids are still her greatest teachers.
Tami Spry Stroud
Tami Stroud is the mother to six children, ages 11 to 2. Their larger family is American, nomadic, sometimes expat, and originally from Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Tami’s family is currently enjoying their summer staying with extended family back in Georgia as they transition from living on the frozen tundra of the remote, bush plane, Native Alaskan, Cup’ik village of Chevak, Alaska to moving to the bustling desert city of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Tami and her family are Christian. She loves homebirth and occasionally works as a doula. She also loves homeschooling and the richness of life that unschooling and worldschooling have brought to her and her family’s lives. Sometimes she writes on her blog at Starry-Eyed Pragmatist.
As always, you can find out more about your host, Lainie Liberti at her website RaisingMiro.com and the alternative education & world schooling project she runs with her teenage son at: ProjectWorldSchool.com. You can also connect with her on twitter @ilainie & facebook.
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