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Being the Change You Want to See
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About This Site

Erika Davis-Pitre lives in central Connecticut where she is the Legislative Vice President for Connecticut's Homeschool Network. She enjoys travel, is an avid reader, a great cook and a local community activist. Erika loves to spread the news about unschooling to everyone she meets--especially to people of color.

Erika writes FUNgasa's Q & A column and maintains the Marafiki Networking Directory. She is the proud mother of 4 children:
One sixth year unschooled, great and curious 11 year old;
one high school graduate and former unschooler, today a smart and athletic 19 year old college freshman;
one creative, insightful and always schooled 21 year old college senior;
and one talented, thoughtful, all grown up and always schooled 25 year old.

Always learning and growing wife to her wonderful husband, Erika's personal mottos are --"You can't be ahead or behind yourself" and "I am learning all the time, the tombstone will be my diploma."

The last few months have been very exciting for me as I have been becoming more and more involved with the movement that is unschooling. I have attended several excellent national forums and conferences and I wanted to share with you some of the insights that I gained from my participation in these events, so perhaps I can encourage many of you to become involved as well.

 

I am going to start by talking about the conference that I just returned from in Vermont. It was hosted by Goddard College and its focus was how to develop a homeschooling BA program for teens, 15 years and older,  who  are now taking classes at community colleges across the country. Goddard is a distance learning college (with the exception of two eight day intensive on campus residencies that are held at the beginning of each of their 15 week semesters) whose students develop their own self-directed curriculum. I was very intrigued to be given the opportunity to be in on the developmental stages of the college's plans for what could prove to be a very innovative program. Imagine a college that gives it’s students the opportunity to continue to pursue their passions and allows them to get a degree at the same time. For me, it seemed like an opportunity that I couldn’t miss. I must say that I was a little disappointed to be the only Black person in attendance (there were a few Asians parents), because I felt that it would have been really helpful to get more ideals from many different perspectives. And some of the perspectives presented by the teen students really showed that lack of diversity (there were no students of color giving input). But I am hoping that by talking about it here, I can increase the involvement of people of color, both parents and students, in the development this very important program. This was only the first of what I hope are many more brainstorming sessions that will provide the college with knowledge from the very group that they are hoping to serve. I will keep you posted on when the next conference will be.

 

I also attended this year’s Live and Learn National Unschooling Conference held in Peabody Massachusetts for the first time in August. I had always wanted to attend this conference but for some reason or another, I never made it. My family and I met many unschooling families and made some new friends. We attended many workshops and took full advantage of the great facilities. My husband also attended a fathers’ only workshop for unschooling dads that he really enjoyed. And in my inquiry to the organizer (a few months before the fact) as to if the conference had any people of color as presenters of some of the workshops was met with a request to direct a workshop myself. And I must tell you that the workshop, "How to Increase Diversity in Your Unschooling Group," went very well. I was particularly touched by how honest people were in sharing their experiences with me and with many other people that they had not met before. I hope to make my workshop at the Live and Learn conference an annual event. I believe that the next conference is scheduled to be held in Florida in October of 2005. I will keep you posted on the exact dates as soon as I hear so you and your family can make plans to attend.

 

And last but certainly not least, my son and I attended the first annual African-American Homeschoolers Family & Friends Vacation at the Grand Canyon last spring with Black families from all over the country. Of all of the events that I participated in the past year, this was truly the most special to me. We got to meet some remarkable families who were living their best lives, and they were willing to share their joy with each other. We shared meals and activities, had great conversations and made life-long friends. Who knew that a small group of unschoolers that wanted to be heard on a general homeschooling list on the internet, could come together to form a group that has the agenda of making sure that African-American Unschoolers can find each other to offer support, encouragement and kinship. And through African-American Unschooling and FUNgasa, we are able to do just that. We are now making plans for the 2005 gathering, I hope that all of you will be able to join us.

 

So here is my charge to all of you. Find your passion and share that gift with as many people here as you can. The rewards of kinship, inspiration and support will far out weigh your efforts. At least they have for me.