Posted by Craige McWhirter on
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by Akilah S. Richards

Raising Free People: Unschooling as Liberation and Healing Work

I'm making an effort to try and keep my reading more contemporary this year and this is the book I've started with - an insight into the Unschooling movement, a movement I was wholly unaware of.

Akilah's first-person writing uses her family's journey through unschooling to illustrate the traps, setbacks, success and triumphs her family has experienced along the way.

Our family defines unschooling as a child-trusting, anti-oppression, liberatory, love-centered approach to parenting and caregiving. As unschoolers, the four of us operate with a core belief that children own themselves and that parents and other adults work with children to nurture their confident autonomy not their ability to obey adults’ directives.

-- Akilah S. Richards

There are plenty of parenting nuances I'd already picked up along the way but many I had not thought about deliberately or had collected as a considered approach which I found insightful. There was also a lot of completely new perspectives on parenting which I found refreshing and intuitive.

If we can accept any form of oppression, we are susceptible to all forms of oppression. That mindset is imperative in our efforts to raise free people, because we are retraining ourselves to spot the ways we participate in oppression

-- Akilah S. Richards

Both Akilah's journey, the lessons learned and the insights that she brings ring strongly of the Socratic notion that to change the world, we must start with ourselves. It's much easier to focus our energies externally at politicians or corporations but if we do not start with ourselves and those we raise, we are just perpetuating the problems, not removing them.

This is why raising free people work is revolutionary. It’s both pushback and buildup; it is protest but also pivoting. It’s getting mad and frustrated and deciding exactly what to do to feel better and to live better, to not just fight against oppression and injustice but to facilitate freedom and prioritize joy.

-- Akilah S. Richards

"Raising free people" has been and continues to be the over-arching ethos of my approach to parenting, which is what initially attracted me to this book. While I did certainly get a lot self-congratulatory moments where the author made some key points I was already all over, there were also plenty of times I felt rightly called out for having missed and where I need to do better.

This is not only a highly recommended book to read but also one I'll be keeping handy to re-read and use as an occasional reference and touchstone.