Zakiyya Ismail is an unschooling mom of three kids, ages 10 to 19. Earlier this year, she hosted the first Learning Reimagined Family Conference in South Africa. She also shares her wonderful insights into the unschooling lifestyle on her website, growingminds.co.za. Our conversation spans from her journey to unschooling, through the idea of deschooling parents as immigrants in our children’s native unschooling world, to her thoughts around unschooling as a tool for decolonization. With lots of wonderful stops along the way!
Quote of the Week
“They view their learning as they do their breathing, that is, they do not view it at all.” ~ Zakiyya Ismail
Questions for Zakiyya
Can you share with us a bit about you and your family and how you discovered unschooling?
I love hearing what unschooling kids are up to. What are your children interested in at the moment and how are they pursuing it?
You wrote an amazing essay, An Immigrant Deschooler in a Native Unschooler’s World. In it, you nailed something that I’d noticed but couldn’t yet articulate: how unschooling children do not look at their lives through the lens of learning. You wrote: “They view their learning as they do their breathing, that is, they do not view it at all.” Can you share your perspective on unschooling natives, immigrants, and settlers?
I would love to chat about the idea of a “successful unschooler.” I read a comment you wrote on Facebook on the topic and it reminded me of something I’ve talked about before, that unschooling isn’t about being a different path to raising a conventionally successful adult. You mentioned “the inevitable question of access to higher education and employability” that is so often asked by people curious about unschooling. It’s understandable that, at first, they have a tight grip on that conventional definition of success, but if they hold onto it for too long, it can get in the way, can’t it?
Earlier this year you hosted the first Learning Reimagined conference in South Africa. I’d love to hear how it went, and can you share something you learned, or a new insight that was sparked that weekend?
Can you share with us a quick overview of what it’s like to unschool in South Africa? What are the legalities? It seems you are actively building a community there, how is that going?
You wrote an article for the most recent edition of Families Learning Together Magazine about your family’s extended trip to India. In it, you mentioned a moment you were proud of during your visit to the Taj Mahal. Could you share the story with us?
You have created an Facebook group called “Unschooling as a Tool for Decolonization.” Can you explain what you mean by that, and how unschooling can be a powerful option when we explore decolonizing education?
Links to Things Mentioned in the Show
The first Learning Reimagined Family Conference in South Africa
The online game her eldest son plays: Dota
Zakiyya’s wonderful essay, An Immigrant Deschooler in a Native Unschooler’s World
Recent local event: Unschooling: Liberation and Language with Akilah Richards
Akilah’s podcast episode, Ten Questions with Akilah S. Richards
Annual Home Educating Families’ Festival in the UK
Zakiyya’s article, Our First Family Trip to India, in Families Learning Together Magazine
Her Facebook group, Unschooling as a Tool for Decolonization