Keynote Speakers 

Peter Gray




We are very excited that Peter Gray will be able to keynote the AERO Conference to be held in Minneapolis from June 25-28! Many people asked us if it would be possible to bring him there. He is one of the most influential people in learner-centered education, and an expert in self-directed education.

Peter Gray is a research professor of psychology at Boston College who has conducted and published research in neuroendocrinology, developmental psychology, anthropology, and education. He is author of an internationally acclaimed introductory psychology textbook (Psychology, Worth Publishers, now in its 8th edition), which views all of psychology from an evolutionary perspective. His recent research focuses on the role of play in human evolution and how children educate themselves, through play and exploration, when they are free to do so. He has expanded on these ideas in his book, Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life (Basic Books). He also authors a regular blog called Freedom to Learn, for Psychology Today magazine. He is a founding member and president of the nonprofit Alliance for Self-Directed Education (ASDE), which is aimed at creating a world in which children’s natural ways of learning are facilitated rather than suppressed. He is also a founding board director of the nonprofit Let Grow, the mission of which is to renew children’s freedom to play and explore outdoors, independently of adults. He earned his undergraduate degree at Columbia College and Ph.D. in biological sciences at the Rockefeller University many years ago. His own current play includes kayaking, long-distance bicycling, backwoods skiing, and vegetable gardening.


Listen to new show featuring Peter Gray on Unschooling



Wayne Jennings

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!


Read about it HERE


Joe Nathan

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.  ​

© AERO 2017

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