Updated: Nov 3
Dear Rock Tree Sky Families,
November is already upon us. It is so easy to become caught up in the business of life but now that we have established a bit of a routine at RTS (albeit seemingly ever changing) we can slow down and notice what it is like to be here now. As we edge ever closer to mid-autumn, our collective focus may shift from a harvest mindset "what have we done? what do we have now?" to a mindset of gratitude "let's celebrate all that has been accomplished, let's celebrate what it is like now!"
Although the structure of our program is different, two months of being open with kids at Rock Tree Sky has proven that RTS still has the juice. Learners are engaged in a myriad of purposeful activity; building friendships, discovery boundaries, exploring the world that surrounds us, creating art, engineering projects, and so much more.
And in the spirit of gratitude that this season offers us, I would like to share with you all about a campaign for giving that we are rolling out this month. As many of you know, the RTS Team has been hard at work developing our physical space. We are now reaching out to members of our community to ask for support in continuing the work that we have started. Please follow this link to our Giving page for more information.
This Monthly Messenger highlights more reflections from the month of October, and includes calendar updates for November, and a parent education piece in which I review from Akilah S. Richards' new book Raising Free People: Unschool as Liberation and Healing Work (2020).
As always, Be Well and Stay Curious
With love and gratitude from the RTS Mentors
Looking Towards November
November 23-27: RTS is closed for Fall Break
Reflections from October
October felt like another big month for us at RTS. During the first three weeks we felt ourselves settling into the rhythm of the bi-weekly rotating schedule. Then, during the final week of October, RTS opened up to the "next phase" of covid-safe operations. Now we are open with six bands on campus, six hours a day, four days a week. And every band is present at Rock Tree Sky for two days each week. We have specialists bringing offerings and instruction for learners. And we have launched a Pebbles program for for toddlers and kids under the age of five.
The RTS Team also continues to further develop our physical space. The climbing wall, garden playhouse, and a performance stage have all been completed. And the beginnings of an apothecary and a metal work shed are taking shape.
We have a lot going on, and although there are more of us learning together for more hours each day, each day seems to fly by.
Throughout the month our learners engaged in such fun as baking pumpkin muffins, playing tetherball, painting still life's and landscapes, building block towers, stretching physical limits on the climbing wall, making music, coloring life-size self portraits, making minature mummies and sarcophagi, exploring the creek, and simply enjoying the silliness and spontaneity of being a kid.
Somehow though, for the first time in Rock Tree Sky history, the month of October came and went without a single pumpkin being carved on campus...curious.
In any case, it was a wonderful month and we are looking forward to what fun and new adventures November will bring.
For this month's parent education piece I will be reviewing Akilah S. Richards' book, Raising Free People: Unschooling as Liberation and Healing Work (2020).
This book was just released this fall and comes to us at a very timely moment when perhaps more people than ever before are exploring unschooling as an option for raising their children.
Akilah S. Richards has been a public voice in the unschooling/child-liberation movement since the inception of her podcast, Fare of the Free Child in 2016. Her voice has been prominent in generating and manning ongoing conversations about de-schooling, conscious parenting, trusting children, moving away from schoolishness, and reckoning the wounds colonization.
If you haven't already checked out her podcast, I recommend you do so.
Her book, after devouring it this month, is also a resource that I recommend- especially to families that are new to the self-directed, unschooling/de-schooling lifestyle. Akilah defines unschooling as "a child-trusting, anti-oppression, liberators, love-centered approach to parenting and caregiving" and deschooling as "shedding the programming and habits that resulted from other people's agency over your time, body, thoughts, and actions." She goes on to write that "Healing is really at the core here. It's not about education; it's about relationships, leadership, being free to grow into our authentic selves together, and knowing how to support that type of freedom and growth in different relationships, personal and professional, at home, with ourselves, and in all our efforts" (Richards, 2020).
Raising Free People reads as a sort of handbook for folks who are aspiring to rear children and live lives that are based on freedom, respect, and autonomy. In the book Akilah shares anecdotes of her own family's experiences with unschooling and the life altering lessons that are gained along the way. The book takes readers on a journey from being schooled to recognizing school wounds to becoming full on advocates of deschooling. Because of its narrative form and Akilah's voice clearly reverberating on each page, the book is relatable and easy to digest; the stories Akilah shares from her own family's experiences are raw and real. The experiential data collected in this book exemplifies the reality that unschooling is not something that is exclusive and only available to those of a certain means, but is actually accessible and liberatory for those who are financially and otherwise circumstangally challenged.
What I love most about Akilah S. Richards is that she really challenges people to reimagine aspects of life that so often go unexamined. The big one being, sending your kids to public school. Instead of accepting the status-quo and all of the pain and concern that so often comes with that, Akilah and her family employ mad-question askin' defined as "questioning the intention behind your concern, instead of questioning to try to resolve your concern" to "seek out causes" rather than focusing "solely on addressing symptoms" (Richards, 2020).
This book is full of opportunities to dig deep and examine the ways that our conditioning or colonization might be negatively impacting the lives of our children whom we want so desperately to thrive.
Raising Free People provides insights on teaching consent, establishing conditions for children gain autonomy and practice leadership, really practicing listening to and trusting children, and developing relationships with children as power-with rather than power-over.
If you're feeling intrigued and ready to get your hands on a copy please check out Raising Free People:Unschooling as Liberation and Healing Work from our parents lending library (located inside of the office at RTS), or oder a copy from PM Press.
Thanks for reading,