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Report on the 2017 AERO Conference

The AERO conference of 2017 was held from August 2nd to August 6th. Those who attended experienced a very special event. This included:
  • A spectacular cruise around Manhattan Island.
  • A visit to Pono, an education center in West Harlem in Manhattan
  • Three documentaries, including a presentation by 22 year old Taiwanese film maker Adler Yang of his award-winning film, “If There is a Reason to Study”
  • The book launch of Jerry Mintz’ “School’s Over”
  • A keynote by unschool expert Dayna Martin
  • Six TED-like mini-talks
  • A keynote by MET Schools founder Dennis Littky
  • A keynote by Alliance of Self-Directed Education founder and author Peter Gray
  • A lunch keynote by Argentine film maker German Doin.
  • A keynote by renowned education writer Jonathan Kozol
  • A keynote by minority unschooling expert Akilah Richards
  • Two amazing panels with keynoters
  • An exclusive reading of a keynote written by paralyzed educator and author John Gatto
  • 36 amazing workshops
  • 12 display tables, a virtual reality demonstration, a Mine Craft server, networking events, book signings
We had attendees from 12 countries and 23 states.
Here are some comments from attendees:
“The AERO conference of 2017 was one of the most powerful/ inspiring networking events I have been to in my life. What great work AERO is doing!”  CV, Colombia
“I found the keynote speakers GREATLY inspiring!  DF
“”I had such a wonderful experience at this conference, and met so many amazing people. I hoped to help bring homeschooling into the Alternative Education conversation in the same way that unschooling has always been. I didn’t anticipate that I would leave with a completely re-framed vision of my work, and my place in this movement. Thanks AERO!!” BR
The AERO conference was a great success. I felt especially blessed to appear on the same stage, in a panel discussion,with one of my long-time heroes, Jonathan Kozol.  And, what a treat is was to hear Jerry Mintz read the speech written for this conference by the great John Gatto, on how education is all about the quest for water, food, and overcoming separation. The conference also, I think, saw the birth of a new star in the advocacy for Self-Directed Education.  When I recommended Akilah Richards to Jerry as a keynoter, I knew she would be good, but I didn’t know she would be THAT good.  Thank you, Jerry, for including her.  And thank you for your generosity in making room, at almost the last minute, for representatives of the Alliance for Self-Directed Education (ASDE) and the ASDE workshop.    Peter Gray
“I have to thank you again for making space for me at AERO this year. It was such a pleasure to learn from and be received by the AERO tribe. I’m still reading through the copious notes I took, and reveling in the wonderful connections made!” Akilah Richards
This quote from Jonathan Kozol’s talk really stuck with Gleamer Sullivan:
“Learning should be a journey of discovery instead of a forced march to a preplanned destination.”
“I’m just back from the Alternative Education Resource Organization AERO conference and don’t have words to describe how beneficial I found it. It was like being as close to hope as we can rightfully get at this moment in history. It was not only about providing for children to become what they want to be. It was also about creating a world in which they feel equal and secure.” RF, Canada
I really enjoyed the keynotes and many workshops.  It was especially useful to have networking time over meals.  Meeting new people who become friends is such a benefit of the conference.
-Candy Landvoigt, Highland School
“The conference was not just informative or thought-provoking, but was bolstering and reaffirming to me as a homeschooler.” MF
“The conference was a gift. I feel more ready to do the work in front of me. It’s as if all I’ve been doing from inside the system has led me to AERO and all the incredible people you attract. Now is the time to show our communities how it all works.”  DM
A child care staff member was told this by a 6 year old, “I know that I am in this child care so my mother can go to workshops at the AERO conference, but to tell you the truth, you made me feel like this was my conference!
The audios of the workshops and videos of the mini-talks and keynoters were made by Jeff Gold’s group. They will be available soon. See below for more information