Learning Reimagined Conference Speakers:
Manish Jain, Lainie Liberti and Miro Siegel, Mia Von Scha, Louis Liebenberg, Ahmed Chicktay, Renuka Ramroop, Jenanyne Jenneker, Tarsha Leigh Jenneker.
Manish Jain is deeply committed to regenerating our diverse knowledge systems and cultural imaginations. He has served for the past 17 years as Coordinator and Co-Founder of Shikshantar: The Peoples’ Institute for Rethinking Education and Development based in Udaipur, India and is co-founder of the Swaraj University, Creativity Adda, Learning Societies Unconference, Walkouts-Walkon network, and Udaipur as a Learning City in India. He is a featured speaker/advisory member of the Economics of Happiness network for localization. He recently helped to launch theEcoversities Network. He has edited several books on Vimukt Shiksha (liberating learning) on themes such as learning societies, unlearning, gift culture, community media, and tools for deep dialogue.
Prior to this, Manish worked as one of the principal team members of the UNESCO Learning Without Frontiers global initiative. He has also been a consultant to UNICEF, World Bank, USAID in Africa, South Asia and former Soviet Union. Manish also worked as an investment banker with Morgan Stanley. He has been trying to unlearn his Master’s degree in Education from Harvard University and a B.A. in Economics, International Development and Political Philosophy from Brown University. He and his wife Vidhi have been unschooling themselves with their teenage daughter, Kanku. Manish is passionate about urban organic farming, filmmaking, simulation gaming, bicycling, group facilitation and slow food cooking.
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Lainie Liberti and Miro Siegel
In 2008, Lainie Liberti and her then 9-year-old son, Miro, began the process of redesigning their lives, with the dream of spending stress-free quality time together. After closing her branding and PR business, selling and giving away all of their possessions, the pair hit the road for a permanent adventure in mid 2009.
Seven years, 16 countries and many personal changes later, Lainie & Miro continue to slow travel around the globe, living an inspired possession-free-lifestyle, volunteering and learning naturally. They are both following their interests on the road, as the planet has been transformed into their classroom. Often you will hear Lainie say “we are blessed to be accidental unschoolers,” who has become an advocate for “life learning” at any age. In fact, Lainie & Miro have taken this philosophy to heart and are producing a series of teen oriented retreats around the world called Project World School.
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Louis Liebenberg is a self-educated tracker. He is the Executive Director of CyberTracker, an Associate of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University and Laureate of the Rolex Award for Enterprise. He is the author of The Origin of Science (2013) and The Art of Tracking (1990).
CyberTracker has grown from a simple hypothesis: The art of tracking may have been the origin of science. Science may have evolved more than a hundred thousand years ago with the evolution of modern hunter-gatherers. Scientific reasoning may therefore be an innate ability of the human mind. This may have far-reaching implications for indigenous knowledge, self-education and citizen science.
In 1990 Louis ran the persistence hunt with !Nate at Lone Tree in the Kalahari.
His work is also on important feature in the book Born to Run.
Louis will be talking about his interesting data on how traditional trackers practice a form of scientific peer review when they discuss animal tracks – a demonstration of innate scientific reasoning at its most basic level, which could be a great way for young people to explore scientific reasoning in an informal setting.
Hi I’m Claire. I am a mother of two unschooled children … ages 17 and 12 years. My son attended school in the UK for two years, from ages 5 to 7, and my daughter has never been to school. Our journey to unschooling took us along an entirely different path to that of Zakiyya’s family. Initially our approach was schooled, over the years we transitioned through the deschooling process and ended up where we are now as unschoolers. However, this deschooling process is likely to never entirely go away as my childhood was defined by my experience within the school system. In those first few months of homeschooling our learning took on a ‘school at home’ approach. This rapidly progressed into a form of eclectic homeschooling that we followed for a few years. During this phase in our journey I spent hours researching all types of ‘fun’ curriculums even going as far as to set up an online shop selling educational products. Yet on those occasions when I stopped, and really looked, I would see evidence of natural learning occurring around us all the time. I slowly began to let go and to trust. Then one day it dawned on me that we were unschooling and we haven’t looked back. Just when I feel I’ve got the hang of unschooling I learn something new and realise there is always more for me to learn.
In 2013 my daughter, then aged 9, and I decided to capture as much of her unschool learning as was possible. Each day, for the duration of that year, we jointly blogged about it on 365DaysLearning and tweeted it on @365DaysLearning. I am currently writing up that experience for a book, hoping to have it ready in time for the Learning Reimagined Conference.
Six years ago we attended HESFES (Home education Seaside Festival), the once largest European home education gathering held in the UK. Since then it has been a dream of mine to be a part of something along these lines here in South Africa. What I enjoyed most about HESFES was the connections made and the interactions experienced between us like minded families. My daughter and I spent the days immersed in the many fun activities on offer, learning new skills and meeting new friends. Every now and then I would pop into the conference tent and hear what was being presented, wishing I could spend more time listening and contributing, but with an easily bored six year old I had to make do with gathering snippets and chatting alongside other parents whilst learning a new skill. For the entire festival we rarely crossed paths with my son, he vanished every day playing rounders, football and other games with his new friends.
A few years back Zakiyya and I began to explore the possibility of combining our two experiences, to develop a unique African gathering of like minded families, and individuals, gathering together over a few days to connect, share and learn … and so the embryonic stages of the Learning Reimagined conference took hold.
Hi, I’m Zakiyya. My 3 kids are 18, 16 and 9. Unlike Claire, we’ve always been unschoolers, and arrived at unschooling before we knew there was a term for the education and living paradigm that made the most sense to Ahmed and I. Of course theorectically choosing to unschool and practically embracing it are two very different things. As Claire states, I think I will always be in a state of deschooling. I am passionate about creating a better world for children to live in, am very keen on the idea and prospect of building a learning society. I created the Unschoolers in South Africa Facebook group to get support, to find other unschoolers, and to help other unschoolers in South Africa connect with and support each other. It grew into something much more useful to me than I initially envisioned. As much as I read books and blogs and watched videos, there was and still is a richness in having a space to go to – even if online – to share a thought or be forced to reflect on my own journey through other members questions and answers. I can certainly attribute a large portion of my growth to the members on that group.
For the last 5 years I’ve been hosting Unschooler’s Camp in Merry Pebbles in Sabie every November. And by hosting–I mean setting a date for the weekend. It is such a special weekend for all of us and the highlight of the year for many of us, and especially for the kids. The weekend is made special by all the people that attend it and I always feel really grateful for the opportunity to be a part of something so beautiful.
In the last couple of months I’ve got the (years in the making) Growing Minds website up and running. I hope to make it a useful space for people exploring other ways of growing/living/learning. (Contributors are welcome)
An organisation that is close to my heart and that I have started working with in a very limited way and hope to contribute to much more in the future is the Alliance for Parenting Education in Africa. Its mission is to transform humanity through childhood.
I’ve always wanted to attend an unschooling or alternative learning conference. My early days of unschooling were filled with self doubt, lots of unanswered questions and loneliness. I always wished I could be immersed into a bubble (however temporary) with similarly minded people where I could talk about my fears and ask questions and know they would be addressed. Last October, I finally got that opportunity when I attended the Life Without Instructions conference in New Jersey. It was a little late for my initial reasons for wanting to attend one, but I am so glad I did. It was an inspiring experience. I loved the welcoming and affirming atmosphere, the many rich and spontaneous discussions in between the formal program, that the speakers were available and accessible outside of their presentations, that they sat in on the other sessions, as seekers of knowledge themselves. This is something one cannot replicate in online interactions, from watching a youtube video or reading a person’s book or blog. That connection for me was what made it special and I knew then that this is where the magic in such gatherings lie and why there was no reason we could not make some of our own magic here in South Africa.
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Mia Von Scha
Mia Von Scha is a Transformational Life Coach and Parenting Coach, and founder of Transformational Parenting, a company focused on helping parents to live authentically and to inspire their children to do the same. Mia is an inspirational speaker, presenting talks on parenting, education and respectful communication. She has been a guest speaker at numerous events including The Montessori Association’s annual conference, The Mama Magic Baby Show, Mensa, and The Gordon Institute of Business Science.
Mia is a two-time author of inspirational children’s books – Tao in the Box and Yes Days No Days – bringing the insights from her coaching on how to live an inspired and balanced life to a younger audience.
Mia is an unschooling mother of two beautiful girls (known to Mia as her Zen Masters).
Mia has been featured in numerous television, radio and magazine interviews for her alternative approach to parenting and life.
Mia is trained both in traditional therapy, with a BA in Psychology and a certification in Trauma Counselling, and in various alternative therapies including Neuro Linguistic Programming, Life Coaching, Hypnotherapy, Stress Biofeedback, Time Paradigm Techniques and The Demartini Method. She uses a combination of methods in her practice to help parents to be the change they want to see in their kids!
You can find Mia on the Web at the following links
Jenayne Jenneker is currently a senior events coordinator at an internationally award winning catering company, Vicky Crease Catering. She attained a certificate in Business and Marketing Management, all while working in the events and lifestyle industry. She has successfully pulled off events for celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Drake, Dr Ray (Hollywood’s famous plastic surgeon) and so many more!
Being homeschooled allowed her the flexibility to travel to places like California, New York, Nigeria and Ghana and have so many amazing experiences while meeting people from different cultures.
Not having any friends that were homeschooled made it tough for anyone to understand and she also had to deal with judgment, but remained a true believer in learning through living!
Jenayne is currently working towards owning her own events and catering company and hopes to one day be able to put her own personal stamp on memorable amazing events!
Tarsha Leigh Jenneker
Tarsha Leigh Jenneker is a second year, top performing, BCom Law student at the University of the Witwatersrand. Her strong academic performance resulted in her being awarded membership into the Golden Key International Honour Society. The Honour Society connects high achieving individuals with each other locally, regionally and globally. In 2012, Tarsha was crowned First Princess at the Miss SA Teen pageant. Being homeschooled allowed Tarsha to explore being a photographic and commercial model where she worked with brands such as Lipton, KFC and Jet clothing. In 2012 Tarsha presented a radio show for Trans Africa Radio. She is a self taught graphic/web designer. Being “free” from the schooling system, has given Tarsha “Mental freedom” – to explore whatever interests she had.
One of Tarsha’s mottos is “I can do/learn ANYTHING, if I put my mind to it”
Renuka Ramroop is an unschooling parent who also serves as a Research Associate at the University of Limpopo. She has published papers on unschooling and is currently working towards her PhD on Unschooling.