The Peoples' Institute for Re-thinking Education and Development

Highlights of LSUC Bhoomi 2017

Highlights of The Bhoomi Gathering

THIS YEAR'S 10th LEARNING SOCIETIES CONFERENCE WAS IN BANGALORE AT BHOOMI COLLEGE FROM DECEMBER 26-30, 2017. HERE ARE SOME LOVE LETTERS FROM THE EVENT.

Here is also a little video glimpse  and a little article of the immense joy we experienced at the 9th Learning Societies unConference 2016. The unConference took place from December 14 - 19, 2016 at Gandhi Vidya Mandir, Sardarshahr, Churu (Near Bikaner)  Rajasthan. It was hosted in Hindi, English and regional languages.

The Learning Societies Un-Conference is an intergenerational gathering which brings together leading “thinker-doers” from around South Asia who are active in challenging the monopoly of factory-schooling and monoculture, and nurturing diverse learning communities, vernacular traditions, intercultural dialogues, ecological sustainable living, decolonization and swaraj. In Bangalore this time, there were over 1000 alternative educators, organic farmers, artists, artisans, activists, designers, theater artists, environmentalists and nature lovers, filmmakers, healers, social entrepreneurs, homeschoolers, unschoolers, barefoot innovators, grandparents, youth, spiritual seekers, and more. Previous unConferences have been held in Sardarshahar (Raj), Pune, Himachal Pradesh, Udaipur, Mumbai, Brazil, Jordan, Pakistan and Iran.

Co-hosted by: Shikshantar Andolan · Bhoomi College · Aikyam Community for Sustainable Living · Volunteers Cafe · Swashikshan Association of Indian Homeschoolers · Vikalp Sangam · Multiversity Network · Swaraj University · Abhivyakti Media for Development · Digital Empowerment Foundation · Banyan Tree Bookstore · Moved by Love · Blue Ribbon Movement · Project DEFY

Dear LSUC family-

My heart is filled with gratitude for the most amazing times spent with most amazing people.

​I slept under the stars, with live classical music ​going on, danced like no one was watching on Kabir, ate food of love, slept on floor and been grateful, met people with abandonment, felt the power of shower blessings, cried at beauty, felt deep consciousness about my body, mind and spirit. Hugs! All my dreams at LSuC came true.

I will never be lost anymore.

​Deep Gratitude!​

Rashmi Sinha

***

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. Tanmay and Shriya join me in wishing you all the same…
Nirupama Sarathy (from Chennai)
Tanmay & Shriya (from Mumbai)

***

Dear LSUC family-

The boy who lit the fire

When my son got the idea of making his own bonfire rather than sitting around the existing one, I was worried, afraid and said NO. But he did not relent and went on collecting sticks and arranging coconut shells for his bonfire and I was wondering how he observed and learned to do so in manner of minutes.

He finished his arrangement and started trying to get fire. I was about to shout “ it is dangerous don’t play with fire”, but realized others around are calm and encouraging him with their smile. I stopped shouting and started looking.

He kept on getting fires and it gets extinguished before he reaches his pile of sticks.. Finally, he is done with guidance from the good souls around and sat next to it without emotion like a yogi.

I don’t know how good he felt, but staring at the fire, I realized my journey towards unlearning has started.

Sangeetha Kothadaraman

***

Dear LSUC family-

My magical moment at LSUC2017:

I was fortunate to get a chance at receiving this amazing foot and leg massage by a lady form Nagaland, her name was Rajani (if I recall, sorry I do forget names). She massaged my tired feet after saying a prayer to them. No one has ever prayed to my feet. It was very tender for me. One lady came up to that spot and started giving me shoulder massage at the same time. A dear friend got me a tender coconut to drink. I felt like a queen. A participant from a foreign land was passing by and saw this sight and asked me ‘This is a wonderful sight, may I take a picture of you?’ I ofcourse said, ‘Go Ahead’!

I really felt so loved and looked after at that moment. I have been slogging it out for years looking after the needs of many, and Universe answered my request for a little nurturing from others and I got it! And I actually wanted unconditional physical nurturing, physical touch and I wanted to feel like a queen whose all commands are followed!:D

Dola Dasgupta

***

Dear LSUC family-

I was representing Himalayan Institute of Alternatives for this un-conference and in the process had one of the most amazing family vacations that I ever undertook. I always felt that something was missing whenever I went for vacations with family & friends and stayed in a 4/ 5 star hotel, where we did nothing much except eat, play and sleep. Thus, I have been trying to build an element of learning on my trips so that we come back richer. And this trip took it to yet another level and I must thank Manish Jain for having invited me and all the organisers for conducting this.

We camped for 5 days in last week of December with other 1000 people. We ate just organic food. And we played & learned as per our choice from the 75 sessions of self designed learning conducted each day. All this at a very negligible cost…as most participants came with intent to offer something they were good at.

While my 9 yr son taught dance steps to 20 participants, he got much more in return … he spun a yarn, made beads, listened to Kabir and saw theatre, tossed salad, lighted bon-fire, played games, visited an animal farm, understood making of a guitar and much much more.

On other front, I shared my experiences of running ME TOO Kids Adventure Club to a group of educationist and parents. I also talked about our work in Ladakh ranging from Ice Stupa Artificial Glacier to upcoming Alternative University. In return I learned how to travel the world with zero money, understood how to conduct such interesting un-conferences, met amazing people doing path breaking experiments in the alternative education space, got consultation on one of my dream project and much more. Free foot spa by fishes was a bonus. Similarly, all others who accompanied us gained a lot.

I want to tell you all, especially those having children to take atleast one family vacation in year with shoe string budget but which are very high on learning. I bet you will learn, do and enjoy a lot more. It is the adventure of learning from the new exposures and experiences that children absorb most.

LESS IS INDEED MORE.

Dilip Jain

***

Dear LSUC family-

Just ending, now, at Bhoomi College, Bengaluru, 30th December 2017, another fabulous, warm, mutually enriching, mutually supportive grand meet of unschoolers, unjobbers, unschoolable individuals, parents who have decided that schools are harmful places for kids and universities not more than sterile holes in which young people now bury themselves in preparation for “deadlihoods”.

If you hold a workshop or seminar or conference in Delhi, a total of 5 people (including the organisers) will be at the inauguration, with everybody worried about how many people will actually come beyond the apportioned time. Most times, attendance shamelessly burgeons just prior to lunch, then dwindles post-lunch. Most of the time, the same speakers, the same big names are paraded to massage monumental egos. They all recognize and greet each other, and know what each will say.

So what is the magic of the LSUC that people take a week off, sometimes entire families (of course, the kids are always there upfront), register, pay money for simple board and even simpler accommodation, and turn up in huge anticipation without even having a formal “agenda” before hand? Don’t know really. LSUC is an un-conference. The unconference is constructed by the people who turn up at the gate. By the end of 5 days, some 60–90 small self-composing work groups sit, discuss, share, resolve (or dance, laugh or play), discuss humanity’s breach of its humanity, attempt to retrieve the creativity of young life effectively smothered by the schooling system, collectively calm the anxieties of parents who have declared “freedom from school” to the youngsters they have bred, and also ensure a festive air, with singers from Kabir’s tradition, baul singers and bonfires.

Those who came in mistakenly wanting structure find they have to navigate time and space like amoebas. By the second day, they love the amoeba status.

The LSUC creates its own currency for material and spiritual services called the “tuc”. You get 30 tucs free when you register. For 10 tucs you can get a banana or a hug, a cup of Osama tea with ginger. No cokes please, but a coconut seller is invited to bring in a truckload of supplies to last a week and you can sip buckets of tender coconut water (but know he will not accept tucs). The food has been prepared from organic supplies by the all too savvy millet expert cooking squad of Jayaram’s Green Path.

For the people assembled, there is simply no care left in the world.

There are no “speakers” since it is assumed that everyone, having done that act of courage of walking out from the mainstream gst f — ked economy, pissed on Mall walls, now wholly enraptured and captured (or captivated) with the sheer joy they see on the kids gone crazy with freedom without boundaries, schedules and pre-apportioned tasks, has a godawesome story that will make your eyes glisten. After courage has come wisdom, peace and calm.

The children, now out of the gaze of once anxious mothers, form their own communities, romp in mud pools, learn to cook, stay awake the entire night or sell things and earn more tucs. No worry since every child at the LSUC has over 500 doting fathers and mothers and no harm is conceivable.

Bhoomi College was the ideal heart for this meeting which will resume sometime next year at some other place of this glorious country.

That more than a thousand people, young and old, rich and poor, comfort-zoned or from the streets could forsake time and shake off their industrial confinements like dogs shake off water and create a huge recognizable family of people of this size can only mean we continue to be blessed and gen next will thrive.

Claude Alvares

***

Dear LSUC family-

I have no word to express gratitude for the organizers of such an amazing unconference: Beautiful place with beautiful people and various wonderful novel activities & sustainable product.Every corner And every moment of LSUC was magical and all people have the magic effect. I found love and affection and amazing experience in entire LSUC.
#1. First time I took session on menstruation and hygiene in lsuc. Two male attended with females and took part in open discussion. One male person had shown interest to purchase near about 500 clothes sanitary pad for his organization.one male member told me during the session that he want to know about menstruation and saying that male also should know equally about it.He got surprised that every month woman bleed.
#2. I have heard first time Kabir bhajan by Vipul and surprise to hear such sweet amazing bhajan, enjoyed a lot.He created interest in me for the Kabir Bhajan.
#3. My daughter attended the first time and the first day she was telling mumma today is the first day and counting the day but the second day she mixes with LSUC people and forget me and also forget to come at home. She did not want to come at home after LSUC. She enjoyed a lot the learning and experiences.

Anurekha Jain