Mark your calendar – South Africa is finally getting its first conference on Reimagining Learning, Self Directed Learning and Building Learning Communities. It is a blended family conference with presentations, panel discussions, small group discussions, funshops, a documentary screening and a talent show. We will – with your participation – try to simulate, as far as is possible, what a learning community could look like. The magic begins on Saturday morning and will end on Sunday evening at around 5:30.  We aim to be gracious hosts, and our appointed caterer (also an Unschooling Mother) is pedantic about having happily hydrated and well fed people. This means a liberal supply of hot drinks and cold water (plain and fruit infused), sumptuous lunches, teatime delights, a mouth watering dinner on Saturday evening and of course snacks and smores for Saturday’s late night festivities. We want you to relax and enjoy the event and engage with the ideas without worrying about meals (or coffee). Delicious food, beautiful venue, inspiring ideas and awesome community– a recipe for a magical weekend.

Format of the Conference
There is Conferencing, Panel Discussions and Unconferencing components to the program.  They all complement each other and each component is vital in creating a meaningful and personalised experience for every participant.
Conferencing
The conferencing portion will feature presentations from Manish Jain, Lainie Liberti, Mia Von Scha, Jenayne Jenneker, Tarsha Leigh Jenneker, Ahmed Chicktay, Renuka Ramroop and Louis Liebenberg.

UnConferencing
The unconference will be a cocreation by participants around the issues that matter deeply to them and that they are passionate about. Each participant decides on the level of their engagement.  All our voices, stories and questions are important! This is one of the overriding motivations for this kind of format. This is also where we facilitate connections and find the people that are sharing similar challenges and journeys.  And of course all the speakers will be available and participating too.

Panel Discussions
The panel discussions are open to all participants that want to share on the relevant topic.  There will be a sign up sheet at the event to add yourself on as a panelist.
Panel 1: Alternatives To School: Self Directed Learning Centers, Democratic Schools, Micro Schools, Homeschool Co-ops, Special Needs Centers, Worldschooling
What kind of free learning spaces for self directed learners are available or in the process of being established?  This important panel discussion is a space for participants to present their projects and adventures in establishing self directed learning centers, democratic schools, micro schools, learning co-ops and unschooling and worldschooling options.  It is also a space for panelists to share what they need in terms of support to create viable alternatives that the Learning Community as a whole benefits from.
Panel 2: Diversity and Inclusivity
The legacy of colonialism has left many embracing the dominant idea of what it means to be educated. For some, stepping out of mainstream schooling is an isolating experience from their communities and from the alternative education community. How does the an alternative education community make space for the intersection of our various identities:  Cultural, Racial, Class, Gender, Sexual Orientation. This is an important conversation for South Africans.  In this session,  participants can share and dialogue on how their identities experience the inclusiveness of the alternative education movement here in SA and what changes, if any, are needed to embrace this diversity.

Speakers
Manish Jain – India. Swaraj University + Shikshantar + Global Eco Universities Network.
Manish will be talking about Learning Communities, sharing his experience and wisdom in building Shikshantar in Udaipur, his reflections on the rising number of ecoversities / alternative higher education spaces in the world, and challenging us to rethink what we consider to be a ‘good education’.
Lainie Liberti and Miro Siegel – USA/South America/ Location Independent Project Worldschooling + Tedx Amsterdam + For the Love of Learning Show.
Lainie and Miro, who left home for a year of travel and 7 years later are still travelling will be sharing their reflections on living your truth and how Anything is Possible if you just take the first step.
Jenayne Jenneker – South Africa, Grown Unschooler and events manager
Tarsha Leigh Jenneker – South Africa, Grown Unschooler and Wits BCom Law Student.
Jenayne and Tarsha Leigh will be sharing their journeys of becoming without schooling and answering our questions. You’ll be feel a lot more excited about your own journey outside of schooling after listening to these incredible girls.
Jenayne and Tarsha Leigh will also host a teens only Frank Talk session where the teens can share their concerns and challenges and find ways to support one another.
Mia Von Scha – South Africa. Transformational Parenting
Mia will be talking about Authentic Learning for Authentic Living and how parents can partner with their children on this journey of freedom in learning.
Renuka Ramroop – South Africa.  Academic Researcher, Unschooling Parent
Renuka will be sharing research on play and its importance; on reading and she will share a little about her upcoming PhD research on natural learning.
Ahmed Chicktay – South Africa. Unschooling Parent of 3
Ahmed will be talking about the little understood yet fundamentally important concept of Freedom for children – in learning and living.
Louis Liebenberg – South Africa. Self Educated tracker, social innovator, academic.
Louis will be sharing his interesting findings 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, relating that to how children also use peer review as a tool and and its implications for citizen science, self directed learning.

What Else is On

  • A free play, creative space in the garden under the Marquee.  Young children are welcome and their laughter, curiosity and spontaneity are a gift to all communities. This space is designed with their enjoyment in mind so please don’t feel you have to leave your littlies behind. Their movement between the free play area and conference room is most welcomed.
  • Funschops – Woodwork, Upcycling
  • A (un) Talent Show on Saturday evening – so start planning/thinking about it if you are coming.
  • Designing your own Utopia session for teens.
  • Minecraft Lan
  • Activities/Workshops that participants wish to offer:  Writing Club, Songwriting, Bird Watching, Photography, Knitting, Henna Art and more, are all welcome.
  • Screening of Schooling the World and a possible Q&A with producer Carol Black thereafter.

Registration is open to all and would interest

  • Anybody engaged in or interested in the many alternatives to schooling. This includes families that have consciously stepped out of the formal education system and are forging their own paths.
  • Families or individuals that are in the formal education system that see its shortcomings and would like to explore alternatives.
  • Parents with pre-school aged kids who would like to understand the issues and the trends in education in order to make an informed and conscious decision about their family’s learning path.
  • Educators that are involved in or want to build alternatives that are meaningful and centered on the child.

Specific Benefits of attending: You get to
Participate in a deep and meaningful conversation about real learning and how it differs from traditional schooling.
Learn from others’ local and global experiences.
Connect with others that share similar paths or challenges as you.
Brainstorm ways of providing real learning opportunities and conceive of projects that help you grow as individuals and as a collaborative learning community.
Develop a clearer conception of learning that guides your personal learning philosophy.
Explore the possibilities of how to translate your philosophy to your family’s educational and learning choices.
Share lessons from your own alternative school/learning/resource centre that you are running or planning on running and at the same time contributing to enhancing others’ insights.
Gain Insight from others’ experiences in starting/running an alternative school/learning/resource centre that could enhance your space/centre.

If you see the value in any of these benefits and how it could enhance your personal journey, your family’s journey or your institutional offering then we hope you will register soon and we look forward to your participation.

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and/or join the Learning Reimagined Facebook Group
You can also contact us via email on lrc@growingminds.co.za if you need to.

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