Today, Connor and Brittany speak with Rebecca Powers, who runs Live Free Academy. She’ll talk to us about the importance of creating education alternatives to public school.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Brittany: Hi, Connor.
Connor: Hey, Brittany.
Brittany: So today, it’s actually been a while since we’ve done an interview, and today we have a very dear friend of mine on the podcast. I met her in Austin when I was there visiting someone else we’ve had on the show before Max Borders, who does some great work with community organizing and things like that. But her name is Rebecca Powers soon to be Bush. She’s about to get married, and she is co-founder of the Exit and Build Land Summit, as well as the Live Free Academy, which I wanna talk to her about today. And we are so happy to have you with us. Welcome, Rebecca.
Rebecca: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so honored to join y’all.
Brittany: I know you’re a big fan of the Tuttle Twins, so we’re happy to have you. So you just hosted, just to jump right into it, you just hosted a big event in Texas and that was all about education and creating alternatives to public schooling for kids. So I’d love for you to get us started with telling us a little bit about that and maybe like how you became so passionate about education.
Rebecca: Yes, absolutely. Well, at Free The Children Summit, we had some incredible speakers. We’ve also created a deep dive called the Homeschool Ready Workshop. This can all be found on Live Free Academy, and the premise here is to provide parents with the tools that they need to set their families up for success. It’s, you know, the easy route to enroll the kiddos in public school and have them get picked up at the end of the driveway on the bus in the morning, and, you know, wipe your hands clean, call it a day, and be on your way to work. And what we’re really hoping to help parents achieve is a lifestyle in harmony with their values. And for many parents who are working full-time and trying to balance that work life, you know, struggle, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a struggle. We want to show parents that there are alternatives we can create those parallel institutions that are in alignment with the best-case scenario for our kiddos. An individualized education plan and having meaningful, fulfilling connections with other children who are, you know, in a similar boat, maybe starting a homeschool co-op which is something that my partner John and I are passionate about. And like most of this, you know, necessity is the mother of invention, right? We just genuinely needed to find the best fit for our kids. they’re nine years old and 10 years old, and there just wasn’t anything out there that was working for them. And so this, that’s kind of how our journey started in pursuing this path and finding alternative education, institutions and, you know, programs that would work for them. And there really wasn’t anything out there. So we had to kind of create and co-create and piggyback on other programs that were more supplemental and finding a good groove there.
Connor: Rebecca, I can resonate a lot with your story in large part because, when Elijah and I started the Tuttle Twins, you know, there was nothing out there. And so we saw a need, we wanted our own children to learn these ideas. And so that’s, you know, how the Tuttle twins were born. You know, it’s very good entrepreneurial thinking, right? What we’re trying to say, is, here’s a problem, what’s a solution? And maybe we can help others while we help ourselves. I have a two-part question for you. So the first part is, what was your own education experience and upbringing? Were you homeschooled in public school? What did you do?
Rebecca: So, this is also part of the reason I’m so passionate about helping, you know, other parents find alternative education programs is because my own experience in public school was very traumatic. Like, beyond the bullying and the, you know, intense structure and then being diagnosed with a disorder, oh, you have attention deficit, hyperactive disorder. Like, I was kind of programmed to believe that something was wrong with me. And, this innate curiosity I had in terms of, you know, politics and political science and economics and theater arts and, you know, creative, more liberal arts-focused education was smashed. And don’t you know what you’re naturally passionate about? That’s not important. You need to learn about, geometry and, you know, all these topics, which don’t get me wrong, they’re important and for some folks who are passionate about those topics, that’s wonderful. But for me, I was kind of forced into this box that I didn’t fit in. And it was, it was challenging. I mean, I wish, you know, in my upbringing, I could have experienced something more alternative and alignment with, my unique and, you know, creative and outgoing personality. And, so public school to me was, you know, something that it was a pretty negative experience.
Connor: Let’s go ahead and say it. It was a prism.
Rebecca: It was horrible. Oh, okay. I read, you know, between what we learned about the food pyramid and health and diet and like, just everything was so upside down. And it was really confusing when I began researching these topics on my own. And it was a direct contradiction to what I was, you know, brainwashed and programmed to believe in the public school system.
Connor: So part two, Rebecca of my question Yeah. Is since that was your experience, what, have you, you’ve done this event, you’re tied into this community. What is your, observation about how homeschooling is just exploding? Because it seems to me, and this is where I want your response, that you’ve got so many parents like myself who went to public school and had very similar, you know, negative experiences that you’ve been, saying. And so it seems like there’s, the growth in homeschooling isn’t just kids who were homeschooled now their parents, so they’re homeschooling their kids. It seems like we’re seeing so many more parents who were went to public school themselves, but they’re saying, you know, I didn’t have the greatest of experiences, or maybe I had an okay experience, but I recognize that the schools today are way different, things are worse, et cetera, et cetera. And so they’re choosing to homeschool as like the, the first generation in their family to say, we’re gonna go do this experience. Is that a trend that you are seeing where it’s a lot of public schoolers who are, parents who are now kind of creating this homeschool the freedom for their kids?
Rebecca: So first and foremost, when the pandemic happened, this is when you see the enrollment and, you know, parents taking their children out of public school, just this mass exodus. And I am not saying that people getting sick is a good thing, but the COVID pandemic in and of itself was one of the best things that could have happened for this social movement. because out of necessity, people had to find alternatives to public schools because they were closed. And a lot of kids don’t want to just sit in front of a computer and, you know, do virtual learning all day. They want to be out in nature and exploring the natural world. But, you know, I think a lot of this also created a community that was, that had existed before and in many ways for, you know, religious homeschooling purposes. But now folks who are coming at it from all sorts of different angles are taking that leap of faith and saying, I trust that there’s something in alignment for our family outside of the public school system, and I’m gonna go find other people who are doing this so that we’re not alone. And the amount of like even Facebook groups and telegram groups and local meetups and, natural, you know, let’s learn gardening or let’s go to, this muse or let’s go do these field trips, these sort of pods that are coming about. It’s, really interesting to see how much that’s catapulted the last two years.
Brittany: Yeah, that’s great. I think we can all relate to that. I’m curious because I think we all had that moment on this podcast especially where we’ve thought like, okay, there’s something wrong with the public school. And I know for me, I grew up in California where a lot of people didn’t homeschool. The concept of homeschoolers was like, oh, those are the weird kids that live, you know, down the block that no one talks to. So I didn’t really know that there were other options until I was an adult until I found people like John Taylor Gatto. So I’m curious who, what was like, who are some heroes for you, or what was that moment where you felt like, oh, there is a better way?
Rebecca: Yeah, I mean, to me, it wasn’t really something that I was even on my radar until John and I, you know, we started dating five years ago and the kids were five, four years old at this time. And it wasn’t something that I even really cared to explore or become familiar with until they were around seven years old, six years old, and we’re like, oh, shoot, we need to figure this out you know? But ultimately, you know, the kids are the future, and part of our activism, you know, in the liberty movement is to create a more beautiful and prosperous future. and the kiddos are the ones who are going to be fulfilling that. And we’re kind of the architects in that regard. so I think to me, you know, a lot of this came from learning about unschooling and just getting out of that, oh, you have to work a nine to five, or you have to go to school for this many hours to learn and really embracing, like, it education is a lifelong process, and it doesn’t matter how old you are. It just matters how curious and passionate you are about different topics and finding other people who can support you in that container.
Connor: I like that Rebecca. And I wonder, I think of my own kids, they’ve only ever known homeschooling. We’ve homeschooled them since they were young kids. In fact, we are putting them in a private school, Acton Academy, for the first time. We should, in fact, Brittany, we should do an interview with, maybe Jeff Sanderford or Laura Sanderford. Oh yeah. Some of the folks behind Acton Academy, or we could even do Matt Clayton, who worked closely with the Sanders and he’s actually the head of school for the one that my kiddos are gonna be going to.
Brittany: Is that Acton?
Connor: Yeah. The Acton Academies are really cool.
Brittany: Yeah, I love Acton Academy.
Connor: They’re kind of an entrepreneurial little private school.
Brittany: Heroes’ journey stuff. Really?
Connor: Yeah. Very much about their hero hero’s journey, but my kids have only ever known homeschool. So, my question for you, Rebecca, is a lot of kids listen, you know, this podcast is primarily for the kids and not the parents. And so to all the kids who are out there, how do you help them? How should kids appreciate what they have? In other words, I feel like sometimes my kids don’t know how amazing their opportunities and their lives are because of the freedom they have. Cause it’s all they’ve known. It’s not like they went to public school and they struggled and hated it or whatever, and then I pulled them out so they could say, oh, finally this is so much better. You know, so many kids out there, it’s all they’ve known, and so maybe they don’t appreciate it to its fullest. Maybe they don’t take advantage of it the right way, you know, the full way that they should. What would you tell the kids out there who are homeschooling, who are on this like hero’s journey so that they can realize their potential with this freedom they have?
Rebecca: Yeah, I mean, that is something that I think is really important to take a moment every day to focus on what we’re grateful for, what we do have. It’s so, you know, the frame of what you focus on becomes your reality. And just focusing on how fortunate really, you know, they are to have that freedom to explore their own interests and connect with other children in a meaningful way and not have an environment of bullying and coercion and just top-down, you know, centralized hierarchical nonsense. So, you know, perspective and positive affirmations, and definitely, we like to do something called an intention setting every morning and just, you know, setting the intention to really zenin in and focus on how beautiful, the spontaneous order and just decentralized approach to learning truly is. And, being, you know, grateful to be living outside of the traditional kind of approach to education. And definitely focusing on that instead of some of the setbacks, like I know Brittany mentioned, oh, well those, the homeschooling kids are the ones who are anti-antisocial. But you know, it really doesn’t have to be that way. And, you know, finding that gratitude for the other families that are involved and who are on that journey, with them.
Brittany: As you’ve been going on this journey with your own kids, I’m so curious, has it been interesting to you to see how different both of them are with their approach to learning and how they go about their education?
Rebecca: Yeah, I mean, something that I wasn’t expecting was how deeply passionate they are about entrepreneurship. Like how some children are just obsessed with sports. They are like obsessed with business development and selling products and earning money, and we’ll like watch Shark Tank with them, and they’re like, okay, so if they’re asking for this much from the investor, then their evaluation must be this and this. I’m like, what Bill? You’re nine. Like, how do you know all this? But it’s been really interesting to see, you know, what it is that sparks joy for them. And, definitely that, you know, free market, libertarian entrepreneurial approach has been really deeply satisfying for both of them. And that’s been fun to watch.
Brittany: Well, that was so good to talk to you about this Rebecca one, because I’ve been following what you’ve been doing and I’ve been following just you and your cute little family. They lived in a tiny home for a little bit of fun side fact that I loved, just watching your life and how they homeschooled in the tiny home. So this was really fun for me. Thank you so much for coming on. We really appreciated it.
Rebecca: Thank you for having me. I so appreciate it. And thank you for the Tuttle Twins and all of the, you know, inspiring literature and books and this has been just so fun and enriching to share with our family.
Connor: Thanks, Rebecca. Keep up the good work.
Brittany: It’s so cool to me that so many people are coming up with so many different ways to educate their kids. So, I love hearing about that. And I think we’ve had a couple of interviews now. We’ve heard different, different forms of, you know, unschooling and schooling or homeschooling. So that’s really fun to me. I’m really happy to see it.
Connor: It is nice to see it spreading and I know talking to a lot of parents, it can often be kind of intimidating to go out on a new decision, a big decision, like changing how your kids are educated. So it’s so nice where events like Rebecca’s and other conferences, there’s a lot of like homeschool conferences across the country. It’s a great way to like meet families like you, even Facebook groups or things like that, right? Just to connect with other people, ask questions, you know, connect up, have, you know, field trips and activities together with your kids. It’s just nice to have a support system and things are way different than they were 20 years ago. And, just so much opportunity to connect and get the support that you need. So, fun conversation. Thanks, Brittany, as always. And until next time, we’ll talk to you later.
Brittany: Talk to you later.