AERO Conference 2016 WORKSHOPS:

We Are NOT Robots! A Respectful Paradigm for LearningDon Berg

The dominant paradigm of learning as content delivery has been thoroughly critiqued and discredited, but an equally compelling alternative paradigm based in both the behavioral and cognitive sciences has not arisen. Workshop presenter Don Berg, an education psychologist and author, will share with you a new synthesis of the current science on learning and motivation that can better guide both educational policy and practice. Let’s discuss whether or not it is sufficiently compelling to become a new paradigm.

Don Berg is an education psychology researcher, alternative education practitioner, leader, and author. The peer-reviewed journals Other Education and The Journal Of The Experimental Analysis Of Behavior have published his research. He has over 20 years of experience leading children in self-directed educational settings. In order to build the nurturing capacity of all K-12 schools he founded Schools of Conscience. He serves as an officer on the boards of several educational and political organizations. The Joyful Llama Ranch in West Linn, Oregon, USA, is his home.


A Year in the Life of a Forest Kindergarten – Lindie Keaton

Come hear about the adventures and misadventures of the first year of a Forest Kindergarten. Share your own ideas and get new ideas from others about how children benefit from spending time with nature and how adults can help increase children's opportunities to be outside.

Lindie Keaton has taught Kindergarten for 10 years in Yellow Springs, Ohio at Antioch School, the oldest democratic school in the U.S. This year, in an expansion of the outdoor connection integral to the school, Lindie added a Forest Kindergarten program. Lindie is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School and an avid camper, hiker, and lover of nature.


Working with our student’s families: What every Holistic Educator needs to know – Josette Luvmour, PhD

All children come with parents—all parents are part of their child’s education. The future of teacher training for Holistic Educators must include preparation about how to work with parents. We will discuss the importance of collaboration with our students’ families that is mutually respectful. Our students are continually adapting to the relationships and communications among primary caregivers. When educators, parents, and students are on the same page, a synergy emerges that allows for an explosion of learning. These key relationships have a large effect on children’s educational experiences. Moreover, parent and child grow together. With knowledge attention to attuned relationships with the child’s family, Holistic Educators can create educational environments that match our student’s needs Academic excellence results. We will at look rejuvenating experiences in teacher/family interactions because this partnership is the crucible of our student’s well-being and happiness.

Co-founder of Summa Institute and co-creator of Natural Learning Relationships, Josette Luvmour, PhD is a developmentalist, consultant, educator who specializes in human development and teacher training. She is Director of Family Development, Professional Development, and the Research Core at Summa Institute and faculty at SDGI. Her writing has been published widely.


Hacking the Future: Creating a Learner Centered Education – Samantha Matalone Cook

Join Samantha Cook, Founder and ED of Curiosity Hacked, learning about creating/supporting a more learner-centered educational environment through mentorship, hands-on making, and hacking to integrate skill building into new or existing schools. Dive into how a hackerspace became a catalyst for self-determining and self-directed learning through a variety of programs designed to meet different needs. See concrete examples of how hard and soft skills, low tech and high tech projects, and leveraging local and global community can create an environment of possibility. Participants will be gaining new skills, work with a variety of materials, and discuss relevant ideas and examples to enhance their own visions as well as those of their students. Time will be given for personal and site specific ideas.

Samantha has an MAt in Education, specializing in Museum and Non-Profit based learning. She has two decades of experience in educational programming, outreach, and the arts and is a dedicated teacher and learner. In addition to writing and blogging about feminism, parenting, art technology, education reform, and homeschooling for major publications such as GeekMom, Samantha has started many grassroots groups and is an active member, speaker, and advocate of the hacker/maker and homeschooling communities. In addition to founding and acting as ED for Curiosity Hacked, she is currently leading educator workshops and writing a book on creating learner-centered environments. Curiosity Hacked is a non profit organization, founded and headquartered in Oakland, dedicated to learner centered STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) education and skill building for kids and families.


This Body of Knowledge – Barbarah Nicoll

In this workshop we will explore our self knowledge through body mapping, responding to guided activities to discover and map on our own body outline what we know of ourselves and what is important to us. Participants will be guided through an interactive and artistic experience that will include somatic awareness, working with the wisdom of the 4 directions (which includes life phases, seasons and inclinations) body mapping and group poetry writing. These activities are suited for youth (14 to 19), and of course adults of all ages. These activities invite participants to employ their “soft will”, a way of looking inward with courage to see oneself, in contrast to the “hard will” that is often engaged when one is given a task to fulfill, often with an overt or hidden requirement to please an authority figure. This holistic and artistic engagement includes improvisation, somatic awareness (coming to know our own bodies as a source of knowledge), expressive arts, biography questions, journaling and group poetry.

In her 35 years of designing opportunities and invitations for youth to join in creating community together, Samantha always leaned into the arts for foundational and connecting activities. She began her career as a youth worker, continued to study expressive arts and improvisation for the classroom, became a Waldorf high school teacher, and then a principal, innovating and designing programs and social action projects along the way. Among other things she has a Master of Integrated Arts.She is passionate about youth and learning.


Model for a Grassroots Community Learning Center – Judith Yero

Attendees will receive and discuss a flexible model for a grassroots community learning center that serves the needs of community members from pre-natal to adult. Includes research, organization, and approaches for birth to age 5, and K-8 components, as well as suggestions for services to adult community members. The key factors in learner-centered education will be discussed, based on visits to learner-centered schools around the country.

Judith Lloyd Yero is a retired public school teacher and administrator, and author of Teaching in Mind: How Teacher Thinking Shapes Education. During a 9,000 mile trip around the United States last fall, she has researched various models of learner-centered education with a goal of identifying best practices to incorporate into a flexible model.


Holistic Pedagogy as a Foundation of DemocracyPeter Berg

Holistic pedagogy can provide the foundation for a democratic, just, and sustainable world. In this workshop we will explore the underpinnings of holistic pedagogy and how they are necessary for a truly democratic society.

Peter Berg, the founder of Youth Transformations and Education Transformation, is a board certified holistic health and mental health coach, a teacher, educational administrator, community organizer, educational consultant, school developer an advocate for alternative and integrated education. Peter coordinates the AERO Representatives and was instrumental in organizing the first AEROx Regional Event. He has written extensively on alternative, holistic, integrated educational theory and techniques and has founded and co-founded non-profit community and environmental-based organizations. Peter received his Doctorate in which he explores the ties between school leadership and progressive and holistic education from Walden University and his Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies and Education from Antioch University. Peter maintains partnerships and affiliations with organizations who promote sustainability, social and environmental justice, human rights and holistic health. Often this work entails bringing these organizations together to form partnerships and exchange ideas.


College Admissions for Non-Traditional Students: Three Inevitable Questions – Lori Dunlap


We are at the leading edge of a major shift in our educational system right now. More and more of us are realizing that the traditional educational model is not the best fit for our children, and are choosing alternatives that will better help our children develop to their full intellectual, creative and social potential. When our children decide to apply to college, however, it can be difficult to demonstrate their non-traditional academic and intellectual accomplishments in the absence of formal transcripts, standard course descriptions, and grades. This session will help parents and students who are considering applying to college:

  1. Learn the three key questions admissions officers ask about non-traditional students,
  2. Develop a plan to address these questions before applying for admission, and
  3. Understand the common mistakes non-traditional students often make when applying to college (and how to avoid them!)

We will also discuss the key elements to consider when selecting a college or university, along with alternative higher education options that some students may want to consider. By the end of this session you will have a clear understanding of what college admissions officers are looking for when considering non-traditional applicants, key considerations for college planning, and a list of resources to support you along the way.

"My business cards proclaim me to be a researcher, writer and education adviser. But when you get right down to it, I’m much more – I’m a homeschooling mother of two boys, a passionate advocate for alternative education, and an idealist. I believe that for every human being there is an ideal living and learning environment that best supports their unique combination of strengths, interests and personality. I’m also a big believer in choice. I believe that we, as individuals, are the only ones who can really choose what’s best for us. Our most transformational decisions happen by recognizing and knowing our deepest, most honest selves. We move towards fulfilling our greatest potential when we are brave enough to tune out the opinions of others and tune into the inner voice that says “Oh, yeah, this is IT!”


Forging a Different Kind of College – Michelle Jones

In this workshop, we will have a conversation about creating a different kind of college based on three core values: human, on purpose, and adventure. In both small groups and large groups we will generate ideas for what such a college would look like. If participants are interested, we can also discuss a step-by-step process for starting an alternative college in their home city.

Michelle Jones, Ph.D. is a former traditional model college professor who is starting her own college, the Wayfinding Academy. Her 15 years teaching leadership and organizational behavior courses at colleges and universities across the country has prepared her well to forge a different kind of college and rethink what higher education can be with this new endeavor. She is also drawing on her experience organizing events and communities with TEDxMtHood and the World Domination Summit and founding non-profit organizations such as SuperThank.



The Serious(ly fun) Business of Learning Through Song-Games – Abigail Larrison, PhD, EdD, and Fleurette Sweeney, PhD

The session engages educators in a reflective process of experiencing a song-game while being provided insights into the neural and cognitive factors they evoke. Fleurette, a long time music educator with 50 years of experience will share folk song-games that are especially appropriate for an adult to play with a small group of children. Abigail, a neuroscientist and educator, will provide brain research demonstrating the principles behind the effectiveness of this type of play as it relates to embodied cognition, the formation of neural networks, and the development of attention and emotional systems. The songs shared during the session will be made available to all participants.

Fleurette Sweeney, Ph.D. (University of British Columbia 2002), has been teaching folk song-games to teachers, parents and children for more than 50 years. The title of her doctoral dissertation says it all: From Sound to Symbol:The Whole Song As Curriculum; The Whole Child As Pedagogue; Observation As Methodology.

Abigail Larrison, Ph.D. (Rutgers, 2000), Ed.D. (UCSD, 2013) received her doctorate in neuroscience studying the mechanisms of attentional processes in the brain. She moved into education to advance an approach that would help develop attention networks in the brain without the use of harmful drugs. Her work in education examines the connections to be drawn between effective holistic pedagogy and brain development.


Rites of Passage in Our Time – Ba Luvmour

Rites of Passage (ROP) have historically been very prominent in cultures. In our times, many people feel there are only vestiges left that are more of a celebration rather than a true passage. This loss is a catastrophe for humanity. When carefully and correctly executed, ROP can be a response to the lack of meaning and purpose that pervades the post-modern world. Learners in this course will discover how the structure of Rites of Passage provides opportunity for a face to face meeting with the unknown. This responds to the question of how we, as individuals, can experientially know ourselves as open-ended and whole. Done well, ROP create opportunity to touch the very depths of human possibility including the emergence of greater self-knowledge. We’ll share stories, brainstorm both together and individually and allow plenty of time for Q&A.

Ba Luvmour, a pioneer in the field of holistic human development with his wife Josette, for more than 30 years, is the Headmaster of Summa Academy ( ). His life as mentor in the field of Self-Knowledge includes many retreats dedicated to inquiry, meditation, group dialogue, and insight into spiritual philosophy, human development, and the evolution of consciousness. An author of five books, he nevertheless prefers engaging people directly. Personal contact and relationship bring forth trust, the essential foundation for all learning. Ba has facilitated scores of Rites of Passage. His work has inspired the Raven Rite of Passage, a program of Boys to Men in Southern Oregon. His unpublished manuscript, Metamorphoses, describes how to organize Rites of Passage with developmental sensitivity.


How To Leverage Dual Enrollment and Distance Learning Opportunities for the Independent Learner – Ben Mitchell

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan describes dual enrollments as “good dropout-prevention programs." One James Irvine Foundation study suggests that dually enrolled students had better academic outcomes – more likely to graduate high school, more likely to transition to college, less likely to need basic skills courses in college, more likely to persist to graduation, even accumulating more college credits — than comparison students. This workshop examines the potential benefits and pitfalls of the explosion of distance learning opportunities for underrepresented populations. More and more a world of choices is available to students regardless of background. How do we support underrepresented communities in discerning within and benefiting from the growing field of choices?

Ben Mitchell, Director for Admissions at Oak Meadow, has taught at Landmark College, The Union Institute and Smith College — teaching everything from 3rd grade to graduate school, using strategies to support diverse learning styles. In 2009, Mitchell founded Student Mentoring Services, an online mentorship program of cloud based technology to support executive functions. At Landmark College, Mitchell helped found the Language Intensive Curriculum, employing assistive technology to support significant language-based deficits. Mitchell has presented all over the world.


How an Understanding of the Evolution of Consciousness Helps Us Make Sense of Our “Crazy” World and What This Tells Us About The Future of Education – David Marshak


One of the most profound new insights we have about our species describes the evolution of consciousness in our human history. This insight explains that just as there is a stage model in the becoming of children and teens, there is a stage model in the evolution of human consciousness. Our time is unique in recorded history because for the first time, humans centered in radically different stages of consciousness are interacting with each other in daily life, via the Internet and air travel. Conflict is thus inevitable, yet the conflict also sets the stage for further evolution of consciousness on the planet. In this workshop David will describe the stages in the evolution of consciousness and relate this insight to the challenges we face in our societies in evolving from industrial school structures/cultures stuck in the early 20th century to learning communities that offer personalization, relationship, caring, and the selfdesign of learning. The workshop will include both presentation and conversation.

David Marshak is the president of the SelfDesign Graduate Institute and the author of the new book, Evolutionary Parenting.


Creative Mavericks: Beacons of Authentic Learning – Sue Haynes

A renaissance of interest in creative learning is finding a foothold in education dialogue thanks to folks like Sir Ken Robinson (TED talk, "Do Schools Kill Creativity?" The Element), and Daniel H. Pink (A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future). I have added my voice on the topic in my book, Creative Mavericks: Beacons of Authentic Learning. My workshop, based on my book, will cover research about highly creative thinkers, my experiences working with highly creative learners, excerpts from highly creative learners who struggled with schooling and later triumphed in their creativity, and excerpts from teachers who support creative learning in all of their students. Coming from a background in holistic literacy and special education (before it became behaviorist-based), I have worked with many struggling students, the majority of whom have been misdiagnosed as learning disabled and/or AD(H)D, who are, in fact, amazing creative, intuitive learners. Their need for creative initiative, expression, and authenticity butts up against their standardized education. My work has been about supporting their phenomenal, self-determined, creative orientation. I plan to bring forth material from Creative Mavericks as a jumping-off point for discussing how to recognize and facilitate creative learning, why highly creative learners are at-risk in our traditional schooling system, how, in their struggle to be true to their internal learning agendas, these learners act as harbingers of what is dying in the culture: the passion for learning and creative expression sourced from our authentic core (they are our "cultural canaries"). From educator Parker Palmer: “I think, at heart, that we are seeking to find life-giving forces and sources in the midst of an enterprise which is too often death- dealing: education. Education is not just about getting information or getting a job. Education is about healing and wholeness. It is about empowerment and liberation, transcendence, about renewing the vitality of life.”

Over the past thirty years Sue has taught in a variety of classrooms, including adult ed, a high school, elementary schools, College of the Atlantic, and tutoring in her home. With masters degrees in Special Education (Wheelock College) and Literacy (University of Maine), she has particularly valued her experiences with at-risk learners (often with the labels of AD(H)D and/or LD) and has developed empowering approaches for working with them. She has explored these experiences in chapters in several education publications (including Education Revolution) and in her book. Two years ago Sue moved across the country from Bar Harbor, Maine to Portland, Oregon. As she reseeds her life in the Pacific Northwest, she is in the process of developing a private tutoring/consulting practice in N Portland (St. Johns Neighborhood). Sue is also giving presentations on her book, Creative Mavericks: Beacons of Authentic Learning and is looking forward to networking with progressive Portland educators.


Jamming: The Art of Co-Creating Beloved Learning Communities – Shilpa Jain

Participants would get to experience a little taste of a Jam — the practices and principles for co-creating beloved learning communities. There would time to also explore how the key principles of Jamming can be applied to many different kinds of learning communities, particularly for increasing self-awareness, building bridges across historic divides, and coming out with visions and actions of the world we want to see everywhere we go.

Shilpa Jain is currently rooting herself in Oakland/Berkeley, CA, where she serves as the Executive Director of YES!. Prior to taking on this role, Shilpa spent two years as the Education and Outreach Coordinator of Other Worlds and ten years as a learning activist with Shikshantar: The Peoples’ Institute for Rethinking Education and Development, based in Udaipur, India, where she served as coordinator of the Swapathgami (Walkouts-Walkons) Network. Shilpa has researched and written numerous books and articles, and facilitated workshops and gatherings on topics including globalization, creative expressions, ecology, democratic living, innovative learning and unlearning. Her publications include A Poet’s Challenge to Schooling, Reclaiming the Gift Culture, Other Worlds of Power, Paths of Unlearning, Unfolding Learning Societies volumes one, two and three, and several issues of Vimukt Shiksha (“Liberating Learning”) and the Swapathgami newsletter “Making Our Paths of Living and Learning”. She is also co-author of “Connect. Inspire. Collaborate”, a highly sought-after facilitation manual. Shilpa has facilitated dozens of transformative leadership gatherings in India, Jordan, Senegal, Lebanon, Egypt, Thailand, Canada, Peru, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Turkey, and the US, working with hundreds of young leaders from over 80 countries. She was founding coordinator of the Global Youth Leadership Collaborative, a network of 15 Jam facilitators from 14 countries that has collectively produced dozens of international gatherings for young changemakers, and distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to small-scale grassroots social change innovations worldwide. Many years ago, Shilpa made the decision to leave the trappings of academia, Washington, DC, and the path of “professionalism” that had been laid before her to live and work in greater alignment with her soul’s calling. Today, she sees her work as contributing to the deep healing of internal, interpersonal and systemic breakdown. Shilpa is committed to using very simple human technologies – like listening, speaking from the heart, slowing down, breathing, and connecting to nature – to support authentic relationships, a deeper sense of self, an essential shift in consciousness, and aligned living practices. She is passionate about dance and music, organic and natural farming, upcycling and zero waste living, asking appreciative questions and being in community. All of her work seeks to uncover ways for people to free themselves from dominating, soul-crushing institutions and to live in greater alignment with their hearts and deepest values, their local communities, and with nature.


Workshop: Robert’s Rules of Order…How to Teach Democratic Decision Making to Children from Kindergarten to the 5th Grade – Ted Weisgal

Robert’s is used and misused civic groups all over the world. People are thrown into the fray without any training. No wonder it’s hated and people are “Bowling Alone” (Robert Putnam). People in power like it this way. There is an alternative. Participate in the process and see how easy and fun the basics can be. Take what you learn back to your school; meld it into your curriculum where you’ll see democracy and learning flourish. Discipline within the process will be addressed; we bet you’ll even discover a happier campus.

Ted has taught Robert’s for 34 years, initially for the lifelong learning program which he co-founded in Houston, Leisure Learning Unlimited. He’s taught it to children as young as 2nd grade and authored A Guide to Teaching Robert’s Rules of Order to Children from Kindergarten to the 5th Grade that will be published this year. One 4th grade class voted unanimously for him to teach them for five days including an essay exam at the end. He served as the Parliamentarian for the National Board of the radio network, Pacifica, for 1½ years.

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