Akilah S. Richards is an unschooling mom to two lovely daughters. She’s also an author, a podcast showrunner and host, and on the organizing team of the Alliance for Self-Directed Learning. She answers my ten questions about her unschooling experience with candor and enthusiasm, and I hope you too enjoy our conversation!
Quote of the Week
“In a partnership when your focus is on harmony, you’re not trying to focus on what everyone should be doing, not trying to fit everybody into your unit. You’re allowing everyone to be and, in so doing, everyone feels free to be themselves. That’s how we got to see how whole they already are.” ~ Akilah S. Richards
Ten Questions for Akilah
- Can you share with us a bit about you and your family, and how you came to unschooling?
- I’d love to hear about what your children are up to. What are they interested in right now and how are they pursuing it?
- You’ve written a book about the beginning of your journey to unschooling, titled, Our Transition into Unschooling, with the awesome subtitle, “Raising independent thinking, information seeking, self-directed lovers of learning and life all through school-free living.” Writing about your rationale behind choosing unschooling, you mentioned your realization that children are underestimated by adults. You wrote, “I had no idea how much children felt … and processed … and understood … and could articulate their feelings.” I loved that, and it was a big realization for myself as well. Can you share a bit about how that it came about?
- As you transitioned to unschooling, one of your big questions was, “What about math?” It’s a common—and valuable—question to ask ourselves. Digging into it, you got to the perspective that “Math is a living principle, not a higher learning concept meant for college professors and “smart people” who teach.” Can you talk a bit about how you got there?
- You shared a tip in the book that I think is so valuable for unschooling but that can sound pretty crazy when you’re first starting out. It was, “don’t approach your children as if you already know what they need.” That turns out to be a pretty key perspective, doesn’t it?
- You are one of the members of the organizing team of The Alliance for Self-Directed Education. Can you tell us a bit about the organization and its purpose?
- You had a great article in the inaugural issue of Tipping Points, the digital magazine being published by the Alliance for Self-Directed Education. In it, you explained that, for you, “unschooling is a vehicle for liberation; a way to walk a path rooted in our strengths and deepest interests.” What does that look like for you and your family?
- You also host a podcast, Fare of the Free Child. I’ve listened to a couple of episodes and have really enjoyed them. I love that you make the point that with your work and your podcast you represent a space, not a set of people. Can you share a bit about the inspiration behind your podcast and that distinction?
- You mentioned on your most recent podcast episode that next year you guys will be travelling to Africa. Can you tell us a bit about your family’s digital nomad lifestyle and how plans for the trip came about?
- Looking back now, what, for you so far, has been the most valuable outcome from choosing unschooling?
Links to Things Mentioned in the Show
You can watch my talk, The Art of Unschooling, at the Canadian Online Homeschool Conference , which runs February 3-7, 2017 (that’s an affiliate link, but my session is free to watch February 3rd and 4th)
I’m also speaking at Unschooler’s Platform, an unschooling family conference in the Chicago area, February 13-17, 2017
Akilah’s podcast, Fare of the Free Child
Akilah’s on the organizing team of the Alliance for Self-Directed Education
Seth Godin’s free book, Stop Stealing Dreams (PDF)
Language app, Hello Talk
Akilah’s book: Our Transition Into Unschooling
ASDE digital magazine, Tipping Points
Akilah’s article in Tipping Points, Navigating Unschooling and Blackness In the American Education System
Learning Reimagined Conference in South Africa
Akilah’s website, akilasrichards.com