Homeschooling & Unschooling Research: Why It Matters Now More Than Ever. In recent months, print and visual media surrounding homeschooling and unschooling has increased tremendously. However, what is missing from that media is actual research on outcomes of those who have engaged in self determined learning outside a traditional school environment. In this presentation, academic research on self-directed learning outcomes is presented and discussed. Finding research, evaluating research, as well as the importance and organizational process of doing research itself will be reviewed. Finally, together, we will examine how qualitative and quantitative research can be used as a tool to increase knowledge about and legitimacy of self-directed learning environments. Gina Riley, Ph.D. is an educational psychologist and Clinical Professor/Program Coordinator of the Adolescent Special Education program at CUNY – Hunter College. She is a seasoned academic, with almost 20 years of teaching, research, and supervisory experience within the fields of special education, psychology, school psychology, and mental health counseling. For the past 18 years, Dr. Riley’s research has concentrated on topics relating to homeschooling, unschooling, and intrinsic motivation/self determination; an interest stemmed in part from unschooling her own child from birth through 12th grade. Recent peer reviewed articles have focused on young adult unschooling outcomes, homeschooling and intrinsic motivation, unschoolers who also identify as LGBTQ, and how unschoolers learn to read. Dr. Riley also has extensive experience in online education and distance learning at the college/university level.
Mara Linaberger, EDD
Business Strategies to Crisis-proof Your School. In this time of pandemic, everything has changed. You've had to figure out how to take your students online, and how to do all of your communications with parents at a distance. After you've triaged those immediate needs, how do you map out your alternative school's marketing and enrollments going forward? Join us to learn more about how to focus in on your clients' precise needs, and to market in new ways, in order to pivot your school in ways that help to ensure its financial stability and continued viability in the future. Dr. Mara Linaberger's essential belief is that each of us has chosen to be here on the planet at this moment in time for a specific reason - that we're all on a mission we chose for ourselves. And that figuring out what it is that we love, what we're good at, and why we've chosen to be her here now, is the main reason for continuing to engage in rich and meaningful learning throughout a lifetime. Mara also believes that many schools actually slow down or stifle those goals and outcomes. So she's passionate about helping parents and kids figure out the very best ways to harness learning in order to develop to their highest potentials!
Education Through the Lens of Adventure. Would students be more motivated to learn if they were given the opportunity to explore the outdoors, push themselves, and take risks? In this talk you'll learn about my experience of learning through adventure, others’ views on it, and why it should be done more often. As a worldschooler, Zoe Greenhouse called everywhere from Guatemala to France home until sixth grade, when she decided she wanted to be normal. She spent the next five years at school, but in tenth grade finally realized traditional education wasn’t for her. Since then, she’s been planning adventures, doing self-directed projects, and encouraging others to think outside the box.
Principles of Motivation. A student of motivation for decades, Andrew has organized his most important discoveries about motivation into three categories: four forms of relevancy, three laws of motivation, and two secret weapons. Make the most of your mentoring with a deeper understanding of how motivation occurs! Andrew Pudewa is the founder and director of the Institute for Excellence in Writing and a father of seven. Traveling and speaking around the world, he addresses issues related to teaching, writing, thinking, spelling, and music with clarity, insight, practical experience, and humor. His seminars for parents, students, and teachers have helped transform many a reluctant writer and have equipped educators with powerful tools to dramatically improve students’ skills.
Julie Schiffman, M.Ed.
Community Connections. Ideas and solutions for building a thriving homeschool community, including connecting with local and online homeschooling families; resources for starting your own group; planning field trips and community events; the significance of Park Days; and the value of volunteering We'll cover information about legal and logistical concerns for running a homeschool group or co-op, and we’ll be addressing tough issues like how introverts can participate and create lasting friendships; strategies for dealing with difficult situations concerning those who create disharmony among members; and overcoming the unique challenges among teen/tween-age youth. Julie has 30 years of experience working with children and families throughout her career from public school teacher to homeschool advocate. An active member of her community, she is passionate about sharing the joy of living life without school and has helped hundreds of families make their transition into homeschooling as president/founder of Marin Homeschoolers (501c7) and as a Regional Representative.
Debbie Michaud & Carlo Ricci
Healing Through Unschooling. Together Carlo Ricci and Debbie Michaud will discuss the potential of unschooling to heal trauma. A parent of children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), Debbie Michaud began homeschooling one of her children when he was unable to cope in the mainstream system. When the supports that were working for the child at school were removed, he became violent and aggressive causing him to face multiple suspensions. Together she and her child explored homeschooling, then unschooling where they found hope and healing. "Debbie Michaud is a Phd Student and Registered Social Worker as well as a former child welfare worker. She is a foster parent who specializes in attachment related trauma as well as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Dr. Carlo Ricci is a Professor at Nipissing University and the author of ""The Willed Curriculum, Unschooling and Self-Direction: What do love, trust, respect, care and compassion have to do with Learning.
Peter Gray & Kevin Currie-Knight
Leaping the Gap Between Paradigms. From Conventional Schooling to Self-Directed Education - This workshop explores the differences in paradigm between conventional schooling and self-directed education (ex: the former sees learning as a necessarily planned act done through a set curriculum; the latter moves away from this idea). Exploring how these paradigms differ will help advocates of self-directed education address common objections. "Peter Gray is a Research Professor at Boston College, the author of Free to Learn, and president of the Alliance for Self-Directed Education. Kevin Currie-Knight is a Teaching Assistant Professor in East Carolina University's College of Education, the author of the book Education in the Marketplace, and the cohost/producer of the Learning by Living Podcast. "
ReFraming Education: Putting the Pieces Together. The Matrix of a Learner is a clear and visual picture that asks questions to better understand the global devastation our educational system has on learning, how it relates to our lack of progress in solving SDGs, and what we can do to change that. Like a broken wheel, nobody and nothing will move forward unless and until it is fixed. "Tracy Hanson is the Founder and CEO of Next Generation Global Education, Inc and the developer of the Matrix of the Learner. She entered the field of education in 1979 with a focus on ensuring each learner had many opportunities to explore questions and find the answers. Her goal was always to empower each learner to reach for his/her individual potential. She holds a Masters in Reading and Curriculum Development and a second in Educational Administration.In her recent book, she reflects, “I now have thousands of “brothers and sisters of another mother.” It was a time filled with song and dance, a sharing of cultures and traditions, and coming to an understanding; we are all facing the same problems regardless of our country. It was a time of discovering the value of the Matrix of a Learner beyond the walls of traditional education, as a philosophy and model that could help the coming together of humanity for a better world. I was raised to believe that when you visit a place, it should be left in better shape than when you arrived. The Matrix of a Learner is my contribution”. She has received 2 awards for her work in 2018: World Icon of Peace Through Transformation of Learning and the Vigor International Humanitarian Award.
Inviting Youths to Claim the Power of Their Imaginations. Participants will engage in a guided imagery activity in which they may access their own energetic idealism, feelings of great expectations, and feeling of ""hidden greatness"" from their youth. I will assert that the concept of adolescence is a fundamental cultural error, a profound misunderstanding of the capacities and gifts of youth—and of what youth need to unfold into their potentials as adults. The years from 13-19 are a time when youths can explore and manifest their creative idealism and their ""hidden greatness."" We will then engage in a conversation about these assertions and their implications. "Founding President, SelfDesign Graduate Institute Professor, College of Education, Seattle University Author of The Common Vision and Evolutionary Parenting"
When we go back, what will it look like? How can we follow CDC and state guidelines and still have learning opportunities for all our students? Let's brainstorm together with AERO Think Tank members to identify what is important, what is trivial, and how we can meet needs of children, family, and staff going forward. This will just be the beginning of the conversation. We will explore ways to keep it going all Summer and next year. Carl Rust is a retired educator who spent 30 years in public education as a teacher, assistant principal and Director of Elkhart Elementary Academy, a self-directed learning program for public school elementary students. He has studied revolutionary schools and programs around the world and is the author, of Get Out of the Way and Let Kids Learn, How We Can Transform Schools and Reintroduce Natural Learning. He is currently Educational Facilitator at Woodlawn Nature Center in Elkhart Indiana and a member of Woodlawn Learning Community, a group of learners of all ages that work and play together naturally in nature.
On Transitioning from Conventional Education to Alternative Education. A Practical Support Guide for Parents, Teachers, and Students"" - ""The system is not broken, it was designed this way."" This statement has become a rallying cry around the injustices inherent in the police systems of the United States. As a teacher and student of conventional and alternative education systems, Micki O'Brien argues that the conventional education system is the same. It was designed to teach us to listen and follow directions, and to repress our own knowing and innate curiosity and interests. When we decide, or are circumstantially directed, to engage in alternative education, after experiencing conventional education, it can be challenging to switch from the direction following, inner-guidance repressing modality to a more self-directed, interest-engaging, natural way of learning. And this can be all the more difficult for those of us who experienced conventional education as traumatic, telling us that we were bad, broken, and wrong because we could not meet the expectations the system values. Using an understanding of neurology, Integral Theory, and personal experience as both a student and teacher in conventional and alternative settings, Micki will offer insight, re-framing, and practical tools you can use to transition from conventional education to alternative education, as a student, teacher, or parent. Please come to this workshop with curiosity, and be ready to play a bit. "Micki O’Brien, M.A., is a graduate of Naropa University’s Master’s of Environmental Leadership program, where she wrote her thesis on applying Integral Theory to education systems. A former board member for the National Coalition of Alternative Community Schools, Micki originally trained in the Montessori model, and went on to student teach at Jefferson County Open School in Colorado, followed by stints at a charter school, a non-public school, and running a Life Skills program. Currently launching The Sovereign Heartland: An Integral School of Unlearning, Micki serves as an education consultant, leadership coach, mindfulness teacher, and, what she calls, an “accidental to conscious” entrepreneur. A strengths-based autism expert, who is neurodivergent herself, Micki coined the term “NeuroUniqueness,” and has a documentary and TEDx talk conveying a message of what is possible when we each understand and use our unique neurology well. She looks forward to playing with you around transitioning from the conventional education model, to an alternative education mindset!"
Katherine Farr & Walker Meyn
Interview Panel on Mental Health Katherine from the US. I'm 17 years old, and I escaped conventional school two years ago for unschooling. Walker is a 20 year old college student in the US. He’s the author of the Academia Manifesto and supporting committee member of the Alliance for Self Directed Education
Peter Gray is a Research Professor at Boston College, the author of Free to Learn, and president of the Alliance for Self-Directed Education.
Living Theory Action Research as a Framework for Self-directed Education - This is a hands-on, interactive workshop for students, parents, teachers, admin and policy makers. You will learn strategies for improving what you do by identifying your values, unveiling contradictions, paradoxes, and embodied knowledge and imagine possibilities for personal and collective growth and transformation. Elizabeth Campbell has over two decades of high school classroom teaching experience, as well as experience as a lead teacher for a local school board in rural Ontario. She has taught everything from philosophy to alternative education. Liz completed a PhD in Educational Sustainability at Nipissing University in North Bay and is currently an adjunct professor at UPEI. In addition, she co-facilitated self-directed professional development workshops for Bluewater educational practitioners. She is passionate about inclusive, holistic, democratic, and self-directed education and believes that fostering a loving culture of inquiry creates an environment where diversity is honoured and all students have the opportunity to flourish. She describes the ideal learning environment as a co-created space for alternative (authentic) knowing, researching, and representing and as co-researchers, the learners in her care embark on a journey of discovery through Living Theory action research projects. Time, trust, respect and freedom are key values in her living theory, which she honours by loving her students into learning and being loved into learning. As Liz negotiates the mandates and policies of public education she continues to develop her own living theory to address the spiritual crisis she believes inhibits learning. It is the sustainability of Living Theory action research, her role as grandmother of four, her passion for the rights of children, and her faith in human kind that inspires her to continue researching and writing with the hope of contributing to a shift in education that addresses this spiritual crisis.
Motivation in Education - Research increasingly helps us understand how and why adult attempts to "motivate" young people's learning so often backfires. How does motivation-to-learn work once we move beyond praise, rewards, punishments, grades and the pressure of tests? Especially in this challenging time of Covid19, how do we support young people's enthusiasm for learning? This workshop will look at some of the neurology and psychology behind motivation, and then demonstrate practical application of this knowledge, by workshopping solutions for real life learning-motivation problems brought by the audience. Je'anna L Clements (Psych Hons) is a mother of two self-educating young people aged 9 and 14. She supports teachers and facilitators around the globe in learning to optimise Self-Directed Education. She is the author of the forthcoming Helping The Butterfly Hatch book series, which has grown out of her online facilitation courses. Her writing has previously been published by Tipping Points magazine (ASDE), Journal for Children, Youth and Environment (Univ Colorado) Save The Children (Sweden) and more. She is a core founder of Riverstone Village, the first Sudbury-inspired learning community in South Africa.
What Teens Say about Mentoring - Most Liberated Learners centers offer optional weekly mentoring meetings to each of the young people at their center. In this workshop, teens from Princeton Learning Cooperative will join me to discuss the why, how, and what of mentoring. Alison Snieckus is on the board for Liberated Learners and is a staff member at Princeton Learning Cooperative in New Jersey. She has worked with young people in Self-Directed Education settings for almost 20 years, most recently as a teacher/mentor at PLC, and prior to that working with teens in her local homeschooling community.
Going to New Places...12 to be Exact! - Last year, the Program Director of my learning center and I embarked on a month-long road trip of the East Coast with the goal of visiting and learning from as many alternative schools and centers as possible before beginning the journey of opening my own self-directed learning center in Las Vegas. This workshop will be a brief description of the planning process, the journey itself, the 12 centers we visited, and the benefits of doing such a trip. I will also have a short video to show that summarizes the trip. I will end the workshop with time for Q&A. A Las Vegas native, Sarah Tavernetti graduated with her B.S. in Elementary Education and taught 2nd grade at Title 1 schools for six years where she also ran Student Council and helped direct and choreograph the school musicals each year. She also lived in a rural town in Panama for three months where she taught in the local schools and created ways to better integrate the local children with their environment and the people in it. Sarah believes learning is an exciting, messy, spontaneous, non-linear process that should be embraced. She believes kids should be connecting to their learning, developing their own meaning, and should be given ample time to explore, create, make mistakes, and collaborate. She believes an educational environment should empower students to become their most authentic and best versions of themselves and that the greatest lessons are learned through experience. These beliefs and experiences have led her to create the first self-directed learning center in Las Vegas, Bloom Academy. Bloom Academy will be available to children ages 5-11 and is expected to open in Fall of 2020.
Partnering with a Nature Center to Form a Learning Community -This would be the story of how I started a self-directed learning program on the grounds of the local nature center. How we worked with the nature center board to develop offerings to homeschool families and how we incorporated nature play in natural learning. Carl Rust is a retired educator who spent 30 years in public education as a teacher, assistant principal and Director of Elkhart Elementary Academy, a self-directed learning program for public school elementary students. He has studied revolutionary schools and programs around the world and is the author, of Get Out of the Way and Let Kids Learn, How We Can Transform Schools and Reintroduce Natural Learning. He is currently Educational Facilitator at Woodlawn Nature Center in Elkhart Indiana and a member of Woodlawn Learning Community, a group of learners of all ages that work and play together naturally in nature.
Dr. Putri Afzan Maria, Kristy Cheng & Najmi Haniffah
Practicing SDL in the context of Exam-Oriented-Mentality in Malaysia - This workshop is aimed at sharing the journey we went through in introducing Self Directed Education in the context of Malaysia; an academically driven education system, from early childhood to Universities. The impact of a spoon-feeding system is seen in the graduates produced as many failed to perform good soft skills. Good on paper does not mean they are good as an employee. Education is definitely revolutionizing, and we believe that many has started to see beyond exams. Unfortunately, in Malaysia, a weak understanding in child development is pushing academic skills as young as 1 year old. In this workshop, we aim to share how we bring SDL into practice, designed to suit the culture. How do we gain parent’s trust to register with us. To share the struggles we faced in introducing a method that they could not even processed what more accept. The struggle is real. Paving our pathways does need a lot of strengths. But, we believe that strong justifications based on research would be very important in order to convince parents. Therefore, evidence based research is what we greatly practice. Dr. Putri as the Founder of KinderKaizen and Sri Aria have been a strong advocate for alternative education such as Play and Self-directed education in Malaysia’s settings. Najmi and Kristy works for Dr Putri. Najmi has been following Dr Putri (her right hand person) since 2015 and has been trained to handle content. Kristy started since 2018 and is handling research work. Dr. Putri’s expansive knowledge and experience in the education field has led her to open the first Pure Play enrichment center known as KinderKaizen which have expanded up to 47 centers all over Malaysia since 2014. Her journey continues with Sri Aria Elementary School, a continuation of KinderKaizen, aimed at exploring learning pedagogies that embeds the element of practicality and meaningful learning. She is currently designing a Junior College for high school to better prepare the future Malaysian children for the uncertainty of the working field when they graduate.
Homeschooling 101 - What does it mean to choose not to participate in school? - “Homeschooling 101” Or as I prefer to say: “Living without Traditional School 101” Join me to consider what it means to choose not to participate in school. How do we facilitate this? How do we understand it? How do we support and validate it?” And - might we move towards a new world in which childhood and school are not synonymous? A world in which young people’s inherent motivation to learn is fully accepted and actively supported? Part presentation, part discussion, this workshop is for all who have young people in their lives: parents, community members, school staff, other professionals working with children and teens. Stephanie works with families who are seeking guidance and support with their child or teen’s educational journey. She helps to bring out and validate the young person’s intrinsic motivation not only for learning, but for life. Her work is informed by her experiences as a school teacher, homeschool parent and co-op organizer, children’s choir conductor, and Board Chair for Compass Centre for Self-Directed Learning. Stephanie believes that each young person deserves, and is capable of co-creating, an educational path that works for them.
Virtual Learning -Take 2 - How can we reflect on our first experience with virtual teaching and reimagine the experience moving forward? Although most of us were thrown into teaching virtually, almost overnight, we want to know how we can move forward into fall with virtual learning that is enjoyable and sustainable for kids, teachers, and parents. In this workshop, you’ll learn how to structure your day for connection, teaching, learning, and reflection. Rita Bouchard (M.Ed Leadership and Change) has been an educator in public, charter, private, schools for 21 years. She is an adjunct faculty at Antioch University, Los Angeles. Active in the classroom, Rita is a facilitator of learning at Da Vinci Connect, a hybrid homeschool project-based model, and advocates for student-directed learning communities in public schools. Rita and her colleagues offer Parent Educator Conferences (PEC), where experts and parents are invited to share their knowledge and provide resources for Social-Emotional Learning, alternative strategies for math, reading, and writing that are geared towards their learners' strengths.
Youth Liberation and Democratic Education - Explore how democratic education and youth liberation are connected and how radical education can further liberation for all. Examples from Gaia Democratic School, Minneapolis, a K-12 grade independent nonprofit school founded by youth and educators. I promise it won't be boring. "Starri Hedges is the Executive Director, and a founding member of the Gai Democratic School Board/Council. Starri graduated from democratic school Second Foundation in 1989 and went on to earn: a Women’s Studies Certificate from Minneapolis (Community and Technical) College, a B.A. in Holistic Education (with a minor in Intermedia Arts) from Metropolitan State University, and a Masters of Arts in Human Development and Educational Psychology from St. Marys University. During undergraduate studies, Starri was a Kopp Scholar, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and won several awards including the GLSEN Teacher of the Year award and first place in the Fuschian Student Association Literary Contest. In addition to academic achievements, Starri has completed in-depth studies of expressive art therapies, martial arts, and several holistic healing techniques including Reiki, Qigong, Yoga and Ifa. Starri served as a Teacher's Aide, Lead Teacher, Board Member and Co-Director at Second Foundation School from 1988-2013. During this time, Starri developed multi-disciplined curriculum, managed testing, state reporting, and various grants including United Arts, Waste Reduction, Youth Employment, Community Murals, Art, Drama, Job Training and Nature Awareness programs. Starri has also worked at a Montessori childcare center, the Edina Art Center, as an Education Advocate and HIV Coordinator at District 202 (a GLBTQ youth drop in center), as a Youth Housing Advocate for YouthLink, as a baker, community organizer, and a founding member of the collectively-run Hard Times Cafe. Starri was also a Teaching Artist for the City of St. Paul Parks and Recreation Department and the nonprofit East Side Arts Council. Starri is an artist, writer, and performer, working with local and national arts organizations. Starri adores nature and time with family, including daughter and circus performer, Jazmin LeFae (who was unschooled), and grandpuppy, Olive."
What If You Knew You Had the Wind At Your Back? - Welcome to the quantum field. "Quantum" is a word thrown around a lot these days, but how do we access it? Realizing we are inside of it can be a bit scary, but now is the time to let go and trust. We can learn to recreate our reality from the inside out. This interactive workshop will revolve around exploring the possibilities that our children are carrying, waiting for us to pay attention. It will open you up to the unknown that many fear, simply because it does not fit into the present accepted paradigm. But we are pathfinders exploring the edges of consciousness and some of us are taking the leap. Oh, the places we go! When teaching Special Education in the 90's, I realized we had it all backwards. The children were fine, its just that we were too restrictive in our assessments and children were suffering, not just my special students but all students were being slam-dunked; evaluated on conformity. I have spent the last 30 years exposing this scam and have finally written my first book with first hand experiences on how our children are equipped to fulfill their purpose. They are not here to fit in. I work now empowering parents to take charge of their children's education, to work from an empowered place of knowing rather than assuming the system has their child's best interest at heart.
Miro & Lainie
Transforming the World into your Classroom - What is worldschooling? Worldschooling, to put it simply, is the act of combining enriched learning and an active engagement with the world, often in the form of traveling. In this workshop, veteran worldschoolers Lainie and Miro share insights to help you prepare for your own worldschooling journeys, addressing family culture, travel style, education and learning approaches, worldviews, safety and more. If you plan on worldschooling, you need to be at this workshop. Lainie Liberti, a mom and recovering branding expert (whose 18 year career once focused on creating campaigns for green – eco businesses, non-profits and conscious businesses) and her now 21-year-old son Miro Siegel, set out 11 years ago on what became a life changing journey. In 2008, California’s economy took a turn causing the closure of many local businesses. Lainie and then 9-year-old Miro decided to “be the change” instead of victims as the pair began the process of redesigning their lives, with the dream of spending stress-free quality time together. After closing her business, selling and giving away all of their possessions, Lainie and Miro hit the road for what was to be a one year adventure mid-2009. Eleven years, and almost fifty countries (and countless personal changes) later, Lainie and Miro continue to slow travel around the globe, living an inspired possession-free-lifestyle, volunteering and learning naturally from the world around them. Both Lainie and Miro have been forever changed, inspired by diverse cultures, histories, languages and traditions, often encouraging the pair to examine their own humanity and interconnectedness. Lainie and Miro have become advocates for life learning at any age, combined with travel. They call it “worldschooling." In 2011, the mother and son duo co-founded Project World School in hopes of bringing this experience to others. Project World School was born from an inspired idea: co-create temporary learning communities around the world with teens and young adults, in order to collaborate in rich experiential and social learning. During the retreats, both natural and academic learning occurs through immersive cultural experiences while encouraging social learning, teamwork and leadership. In addition to the teen retreats, Lainie and Miro also host two international family conferences a year called the Project World School Family Summits. To date, they's produced six summits, hosting hundreds of families and providing community for worldschoolers around the globe. https://zoom.us/j/93068498625?pwd=dUt3Rmo1QWZSQXNpSUVEMjhUS1VjQT09
Exploring a Career in Self-Directed Education: Ken’s mentoring towards an unaccredited, self-directed certification in being an expert in our field - Are you ready to opt out of school and embark on the same journey we offer to youth and families disillusioned with schooling? How do you begin to survey the realm of self-directed learning? What are the basic starting points? There are a slew of books to read, and dozens of people to meet. There are videos to watch, and podcasts to hear. There are reflections to write. More importantly, there are schools and programs to visit. You can spend time as a long-term volunteer at a place that inspires you. Imagine a year-long process to understand the range of our approaches to identify what most resonates with you. What is the syllabus? Where does one go? Some issues to consider: Are you more interested in working at an existing program or creating something new? How much money do you need to earn, both short-term and long-term? Is there any clear way to make a solid living in this field? Where would you prefer to live? Does your current relationship or family status impact your options? Within the world of Self-Directed Education, are there particular models you prefer or, conversely, would not consider? What is your prior experience with this world? In 2018-2019 I offered this coaching to Cassidy Younghans, who is now a founding staff member of EPIC, in Dallas, Texas. In 2019-2020, I have been among the people supporting Sarah Tavernetti’s research and process to build Bloom Academy in Las Vegas. In 2019-2020 I have assisted with the AERO School Starters Course, and I have been attending AERO Conferences as a participant and presenter sharing the North Star model with interested attendees since 2007. I have also been part of the Liberated Learners team coaching people to start new centers in our network, and I have met hundreds of people creating self-directed learning programs around the United States and the world. See our map, http://liberatedlearners.net/members/member-programs. "Ken Danford ~ Kenneth Danford is the Co-Founder and Executive of North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens. His new book Learning is Natural, School is Optional: The North Star approach to offering teens a head start on life shares his journey from being a public school loyalist and reformer to building a program that supports young people to opt out of school to pursue self-directed learning. Since 1996, Kenneth has coached more than 800 teens and their families to explore living and learning without school. Kenneth’s vision and commitment include welcoming all interested teens to North Star, making the approach accessible for every family in his community. He has been attending and presenting at AERO conferences since 2007.
Jerry & Liz
How to start a new learner-centered alternative or change to one - This year we are expanding our usual school starters workshop to include also helping people change their schools to a more learner-centered approach. Jerry Mintz has been a leading voice in the alternative school movement for many years. He was a public school teacher and principal, and, for seventeen years, an independent alternative school principal. In 1989, he founded the Alternative Education Resource Organization and has helped found over 100 alternative schools and organizations. He has been on National Public Radio, the major TV networks, in The New York Times, Newsday, and many other publications. He was Editor-in-Chief for the Handbook of Alternative Education, and the Almanac of Education Choices. He is the author of School’s Over: How to Have Freedom and Democracy in Education . Co-editor of Turning Points: 35 Visionaries in Education Tell Their Own Stories. He appeared in two recent TEDx talks. He continues to lecture and consult around the world
Ecovillage Co-creation: The Maui Aloha Project - a living and learning community in Maui, Hawaii Maui Aloha Project is a socially transformative, living and learning initiative, anchored in decolonial and critical theory. The concept is a response to persistent systemic scholastic and societal inequalities. MAP is designed as a participatory community, functioning to construct a new model where participants share the privilege of educating, rearing, and supporting the community and its children. In this workshop, participants are invited to imagine…how we, together, may act as change agents. Imagine a community arising from a conscious intention to co-create a new paradigm, principled on wellness, in a supportive environment which fosters children to thrive communally, globally. "Stephanie Shuler is a social entrepreneur. Her formal research explores thriving and multiliteracies. She is in her final year of Doctoral Studies at The University of Toronto/OISE in Canada. Stephanie is currently exploring Parents’ Narrative Accounts of Experiences with Their Child’s Learning Disabilities. Stephanie has extensive background in Leisure Studies, camp, outdoor immersion, and holistic education. Bringing more than 30 years’ experience working with diverse populations in traditional and alternative environments, she is a founding visionary behind The Maui Aloha Project, an ecovillage initiative pursuing living and learning possibilities in Hawaii. A parent to three wonderful young adults who sometimes join her for picnics and canoeing. She finds peace in music, dance, painting and Chi Kong Yoga Energetics.
Joe Nathan & Wayne Jennings
"Joe Nathan PhD, has been an urban public school teacher, administrator, PTA president, advocate and researcher. He founded and directs the Center for School Change. Since 1989, he has written regular newspaper columns for various newspapers and currently is a regular columnist for a number of suburban and rural Minnesota papers. Nathan helped write chartered public school legislation in more than 30 years, including the first law. He's also helped write and defend, since 1985, Mn's law allowing high school students to take free classes on college campuses or on line. He's appeared on more than 500 radio and television programs including the Today Show, Good Morning America, ABC Nightly News and McNeil/Lehrer News Hour. Married for 45 years (Wayne Jennings served as minister), 3 kids, 5 granddaughter. Wayne Jennings, an educator for sixty years, has been a teacher and principal and has chaired the board of directors of two charter schools. He started eight schools during his career, including two schools for at-risk youth, five charter schools, and an arts school. He supports experiential and progressive practices and believes that charter schools should be exemplars of innovation. Here is an amazing bio of Wayne: Among other things, the Jennings Community Learning Center is named for him. Read here about the Pioneer Award that the MN Association of Charter Schools presented to Wayne Jennings in 2017 Wayne Jennings was the founding principal of the pioneering St. Paul Open School in 1992. It was one of the most radical public alternatives. See how he did it here, among other things, writing the grant that led to the school in one weekend!"
Brian Conner, Ashawn Dabney-Small, Jacob Dennis, Walker Meyn
National Youth Rights Panel Brian Conner is the current President of the National Youth Rights Association. His interest in youth rights and self-directed education began his sophomore year of high school, when he saw several presentations on the student-led movements of the 60s. He started researching education reform, and came to the conclusion that the only way to create an education system that works for everyone is to give young people total control over their lives. He has led workshops on youth rights and given two TEDx talks: one on education reform and another on youth rights. He attends Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY
World Building for Teachers or Self-Guided Learners: Building an Authentic Character for your Role-Playing Game or Story - This workshop will guide you through the first phase of authentic character creation drawing on who inspires your students in the world. This is a great first or second class compatible with any creative writing class that needs original characters for their story, screenplay, role-playing game, etc. MA Education, .b Mindfulness certified Life-skills innovator, mindfulness coach, teacher-gamer. Zach has figured out how to combine game theory, media studies and literary criticism into social emotional learning through role-playing games and purpose driven initiatives. With his Masters in Education, teacher training and early career producing artists and musicians, Zach takes a narrative approach to sourcing authentic material from within what intrinsically motivates students: their own distinct interests.
Making Self-Directed Learning Accessible to ALL - What will a world look like in which self-directed learning is accessible to any young person who wants to pursue it? What will it take to make that world possible? In this session, I'd like us to explore these questions and present some possible solutions. Jim Flannery is a former high school physics teacher who now advocates for self-directed learning. Jim is the creator of the Peer Unschooling Network, a digital community for young self-directed learners (peerunschooling.net). Jim's latest project is an app that teaches young people how to thrive without school called: "LEAVE SCHOOL: what teachers can't tell you"". (leave-school.com)
Joan A. Cotter
Taking Children to New Places with Math Games - Many people blame flash cards and timed tests for their dislike of math. The only person who likes flash cards is the person who doesn’t need them. A better solution is to show the children strategies for learning the facts and math games for practicing them. There are also games for learning other math concepts, such as fractions. Joan A. Cotter, Ph.D. has a degree in electrical engineering, a Montessori diploma (ages 3-6), and a doctorate in mathematics education. She taught children in a Montessori classroom and mathematics to students in grades 6-8. She is the author of Math Card Games: 300 Games for Learning and Enjoying Math and the RightStart™ Mathematics program.
Stairway to Freedom - Experience in founding a park-school: - formation and development of a team, personal characters of a tutor; - adoption of approach; - observing, pedagogical empathy and refleсtion as a basis for learning process Tutors of studios (a sort of workshop or a class in school-park format) in Lestnica park-school
Monica Cochran & Kathy Magnusson
"Monica Cochran, M.Ed has worked with children, parents and other adults in a wide variety of educational, hospital and business settings for over 40 years. She has been active in alternative education since 1978, home educated two of her own children, and has worked with other home educating and distance learning families since 1997. She has vast experience in helping learners of all ages and abilities enjoy learning. She especially enjoys helping learners who have both unique talents and unique challenges develop their strengths and create learning experiences that work for them. Currently, Monica works with learners and their families around the world through her private practice, Learning Without Borders. Monica earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh in a multi-disciplinary program in child development, social work, and early childhood education and a Master’s Degree from Eastern Michigan University in special education with certifications in learning disabilities and emotional impairment. She also earned a Primary Montessori Certification from the American Montessori Society and is an Advanced DIR practitioner. Since 1997, following her youngest son’s auto accident, she has also been active in supporting survivors of traumatic brain injuries and learners with other health and developmental issues, as they redesign their lives. Kathy Magnusson, M. Ed. believes learning is an adventure. She has over 25 years working with youth in a variety of formal and informal settings. Kathy taught as a public school science teacher and developed a leadership program for girls ages 10 and up. Kathy has earned a Master of Education degree from the University of Minnesota. As owner of Wildewood Learning, Kathy develops tailor made professional development opportunities for educators and youth professionals that will support them in designing positive learning environments for their students. Kathy is an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACEs) Interface trainer, she provides trainings to professionals in trauma informed and resilience based practices. Kathy believes educators and youth professionals need to develop their own social and emotional learning skills to create meaningful relationships with students, creating a ripple effect that changes the process of learning for all.
A WORLD WORTH IMAGINING - The weight of climate change is huge for all of us, young and old. This workshop is designed as a way to help our students find hope in the midst of the chaos. Using A World Worth Imagining (my book) as a catalyst for discussion, activities and idea sharing, this workshop is designed to help cultivate hope in our young people as they move forward feeling the weight and responsibility of climate change. The ultimate goal is that in helping young people connect with the earth, co-create a vision of the world they want to live in, and make plans for taking immediate steps to make it happen, it will plant a seed. This seed will not only inspire action, but will be that voice that speaks up when change seems impossible, “but, what if…”This workshop helps guide educators in facilitating "A WORLD WORTH IMAGINING WORKSHOPS", offering tips and strategies for delivering them to their students. Along with the workshop, participants receive a curriculum package full of activities to use within the classroom and a digital copy of the book. Sue Holloway is a homeschooling mother of two, an entrepreneur, an author, an artist and an educator. Sue has worked everywhere from classrooms, to boardrooms, to the wilderness, with many diverse populations. In 2008 Sue established The Forest School- An Alternative Learning Centre in South Gillies, Ontario and has been teaching and learning there ever since. Her work with the students at The Forest School inspired her adventure into the publishing world. In 2017, Sue published the illustrated book, A World Worth Imagining. A World Worth Imagining tells a story of the wonder of what our world could be. It was created to cultivate hope in our young people (all of us really) as we work together to forge new paths and ways of being with each other and the planet. In all that she does, Sue loves to share with others the wonder of what is, and in the case of A World Worth Imagining, the wonder of what could be.
Catina Franklin Sweedy
Benefits of Playing Minecraft - In this interactive session, parents will get a crash course about what Minecraft is, the many benefits of playing Minecraft, how young people use it to build community, and why they should get a Minecraft account too. The Minecraft world is absolutely exploding, with over 100 million registered users, and this presentation will reassure parents and educators that playing Minecraft is actually benefiting and enhancing young people’s lives. Catina Franklin Sweedy is a program advisor at Embark Center for Self-Directed Education in Leesburg, Virginia, where she helps support teens navigate their own unique educational paths. A former public, parochial, and private school music teacher of over twenty years, she is now grateful to be part of community that respects youth in pursuing their own goals and supporting parents to trust and allow their children experience the unusual journey of self-directed education. An avid lecturer across many topics, Catina has presented at the Virginia Homeschoolers Conference, MineFaire, George Mason University, and the Alternative Education Resource Organization Conference on subjects ranging from the educational benefits of video games to why pop songs are so catchy. Catina has been featured on the Clarineat podcast about teaching and respecting young students and is a Mojang certified Minecraft educator. In addition to her work in self-directed education and youth rights, Catina runs The Clarinet Project channel on YouTube and Instagram and is the founder and co-director of the Mason Summer Clarinet Academy at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. She is a member of the Alliance for Self-Directed Education and the National Youth Rights Association.
Neural Mapping Realities - Everything in our physical reality started off as nothing more than a simple thought that was vibrated into existence. How can we give our children the freedom to create a new only they can see? Join me as we deconstruct cognitive neural development and the body's ability to create new neural networks in the mind at such a young age with the primary focus on allowing children to create & "draw" their own neural maps instead of us adults "imprinting" our outdated maps onto our children as *this is the way its done* mentality. "The distance between your dreams & your reality is movement & vibration. Anthony is on a mission to connect the world; physically, emotionally and energetically. His training and educational background began in 2001with his fascination with the human body & kinesiology. This is where he discovered that movement is the fundamental basis of life. Coincidentally, this led him into a very fruitful dance career, which took him to over 25 countries around the world teaching, performing and competing. Anthony built multiple dance schools in different cities across the US and in 2012 decided that he wanted to go back to school to become a doctor. While still maintaining his dance companies he began the Doctorate of Chiropractic program at Life University where he became the Student Body President. In July 2016, at the depth of his program, Anthony became aware of a fundamental problem within our educational model and had a clear vision of the solution. Anthony is a student doctor 6 months away from becoming Dr. Umina while simultaneously following his passion of decentralizing education to returning the power of learning to the home by connecting families and children together through a fully autonomous open sourced educational global ecosystem - Visit www.WorldSchool.org