Raising Free People applies an equity and mutual-respect based approach to parenting and caregiving relationships between adults and children/young adults. In this approach, the goal is to integrate social justice and liberatory practices into our daily interactions with youth, and particularly to engage in and support the push back against normalized, oppressive parenting.
The focus of Raising Free People work is to heal parent-child relationships from the trauma of our dominant social agreement that young people need to be molded — usually through punishment, physical consequence, forced education, and little-to-no input in how they spend most of their time.
Raising Free People work is explored primarily through Raising Free People Workshop™, a web-based, interactive, 9-week series of audio and video content, combined with live video group sessions. The workshop was created in 2017 by Self-Directed Education activist, author, and unschooling parent, Akilah S. Richards. In addition to the 9-week healing workshop, Raising Free People work is nurtured through free community offerings such as live webinars, support for organizing local, in-person meetups, and e-booklets that address toxic approaches to adult-youth relationships.
Raising Free People emerged from a community of parents and children’s rights advocates whose stories and insights were sought out and centered via
Fare of the Free Child Podcast.
The podcast was created by Akilah in 2016 to center the voices of People of Color in Self-Directed Education (#POCinSDE) such as unschoolers, eclectic homeschoolers, worldschoolers, Agile Learning Center directors and supporters, democratic school supporters, and grassroots community learning co-operative organizers and activists.
The ingrained intention is to transform our environments into spaces where young people are encouraged to develop and practice confident autonomy in all aspects of their lives. This is done, in part, by recognizing, discussing, and actively resisting Adultism–the power and privileging of adulthood over youth.
Raising Free People work faces and openly discusses the ways in which adults struggle with our own learned and internalized ideas of how to raise responsible, decent human beings. We acknowledge the tendency to fall back on practices that do not honor our beliefs, but instead, come from our fears, our frustrations, our circumstances, and our emotional baggage.
Through this work, adults are learning how to notice, minimize, and ultimately prevent harmful practices disguised as responsible parenting and caregiving; we are understanding how to develop liberation-minded relationships with youth.
The shared vision of people who participate in Raising Free People work is to fuel a social consciousness that understands children and how they learn, and identifies oppression so as to name and stop it. We aim to make choices that empower children to thrive as themselves while we learn how to deschool our own minds and habits.