Tuesday, January 9, 2018

an experience of the Learning Societies UnConference, December 2017

Reposting a testimonial about the Learning Societies UnConference, December 2017 posted by one of the attendees:

Dear LSuC Family,

i'd been to a couple of LSuCs in the past, so kind of knew what to expect. But this time was different for me as i came in as a tentative and slightly tense, temporarily full-time, single parent to 2 kids for 5 days. Yes, i've engaged with all the various ideologies and approaches to learning over the years, worked extensively with children and youth in my professional capacity and done a lot of back-seat driving on parenting the kids in my family and friends' circles, but this was my first hands-on 24*7 living experience, 5 days exclusively with my 13 year old nephew and 11 year old niece, who i normally meet for just about a week during family vacations each year. When i hesitatingly proposed to them, spending a week of their winter vacations alone with me at the LSuC, they trusted in me and readily said 'yes', much to my surprise, and i trusted the larger community and immediately sent in our registration. And then followed all the hard work of getting the others on board, adjusting the dates and other schedules, getting their complicated and extended travel organised, with a lot of sustained effort on my sister's part to eventually make it happen.

Despite all my pre-conceptions and latent concerns about how children who've grown up in the cut-throat competitive environment of the 'maximum' city, and used to a comfortable and protected way of life, would cope in an 'alternative', 'minimalist' setup, and how a space strongly rooted in 'decolonisation' and 'unschooling' would welcome 'city-bred' children studying in 'mainstream' schools, i took the plunge and trusted the universe that we would all emerge wiser at the end of it.

The only thing that gave me the confidence was the trust that there is a larger family to hold and support us, to help us learn and grow with us, and that's exactly how it was. We felt really held, and loved and cared for in every way over the 5 days! The kids instantly took to the space like fish to water, forged great friendships with people who initially seemed 'a bit different', extended the circle of trust to all the people and the process and the place, suspended all inhibitions about getting out of their comfort zones and getting their hands dirty (quite literally!), found the perfect playground for their incessant questions and unique explorations, and happily disappeared into the dust and crowds and vastness of the nature-endowed campus... leaving me pinching myself to see if it was real ... only to be reassured by a glimpse of their excited, joyful faces occasionally at meal times.

And even as the magical 5 days came to a close, we are carrying huge chunks of the LSuC magic back with us in the form of conversations, reflections, anecdotes, insights, dances, jokes, hugs, songs, games, photos, memorabilia (including the precious TUCs!) ,and a whole host of lovely friends from different corners of the country and world who had become family in those 5 days. And to top all of this, the anxious aunt in me was replaced by a special friend, co-learner and companion to two amazingly beautiful children, and hopefully to many others as well.

It is with tremendous gratitude and love that i am writing to thank each one of you for making space for us in the LSuC, and in your hearts.... and i'm inviting all of us to extend the LSuC into our lives, welcoming the free spirited child in all of us, beyond labels of 'schooled', 'unschooled', 'colonised', 'decolonised', 'alternative', 'mainstream',... because as Manish beautifully put it, it is with 'many streams' flowing that the rich diversity of flora and fauna truly flourish.

It's been a really beautiful closure to 2017 and wonderful start to 2018 for me. [..]

Best wishes,

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