July 13, 2011 at 12:40 am | Posted in AERO | Leave a comment

by Jerry Mintz

AERO staff members are now at the International Democratic Education Conference in Devon, England. The IDEC has been an annual event since 1993. It is a gathering of students, teachers and parents from democratic schools all around the world. This event now has 500 participants from over 30 countries. Half of them are students! Today featured a full day of workshops and activities that was open to those outside the democratic education world. It ended with a massive birthday party for several democratic schools, including Summerhill School’s 90th.


The exchange of information is on many levels and will certainly lead to increasing numbers of democratic schools. For example, when the IDEC was held in Germany in 1995 there were no democratic schools there. But at this conference there are several democratic schools from Germany representing almost a third of the attendees. There are also large delegations from Korea, Netherlands, Ukraine, and Puerto Rico. The next IDEC will be hosted by Nuestra Escuela and the Alliance for Alternative Education in Puerto Rico next March. The IDEC is a long conference. Having started on July 5th it will go to the 14th! This is by design, so that the group can become a real community.

The only other conference we know of that is like this is the AERO conference which will be from August 4-7 in Portland, OR. So we’ll just have a few weeks to get ready for it after we return from England. It is still possible to register for the AERO conference and there are a few rooms left at the hotel where it is being held, at the conference rate. For more info go to:



News on IDEC 2012

June 20, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Posted in AERO, Democratic Education | 1 Comment
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The IDEC 2012 was launched in the presence of students, teachers, university professors, leaders from the non-profit sector as well as local business people. The press conference took place last month with a detailed description of what the IDEC is and what it will mean to host the great event in Caguas, Puerto Rico in March of 2012. Lourdes Aponte who presides the Alliance for Alternative Education spoke about the role of the multi-sectorial effort behind the IDEC so that it will have an impact on the schools and education of the children and youth in Caguas and Puerto Rico. Scott Nine from IDEA spoke about the event and his projections for a deep dialogue among the participants that will take the IDEC to a new level of exchange and learning. The Mayor of Caguas, William Miranda Torres, shared with the group the importance of the IDEC for the new projects that will transform the city into a “living laboratory for learning” and the IDEC will be the launching pad for this great effort.
A highlight of the press conference was the testimonies of two former students of Nuestra Escuela, Viviana Pacheco and Jorge Vazquez, who eloquently shared their anticipation in receiving young people from all over the world in their community. The IDEC 2012 was off to a great start, the web site was presented and the request for presentations was launched. The public dialogue about democratic education has begun in Puerto Rico and will set the groundwork for an exciting IDEC 2012.

Find out more and register online at:

Alex Olek from Themes Network Schools, Mayor Torres of the host city of Caguas, Justo Méndez Arámburu of Nuestra Escuela and Scott Nine of IDEA.

Lourdes Aponte of the Alliance for Alternative Education, Mayor Torres of the host city of Caguas, Justo Méndez Arámburu of Nuestra Escuela and Scott Nine of IDEA.

Viviana Pacheco, former student of Nuestra Escuela and student leader of the Youth Forum and Jorge Vazquez former student and now teacher at Nuestra Escuela.

Andrea Barrientos of the IDEC2012 Coordinating Committee speaking about the call for presentations.

Freedom to see and act boldly in the face of systemic repression

June 15, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Posted in AERO | 1 Comment

Michael Mendizza


The forces that created NCLB are larger than education. 9/11, as controversial as JFK’s regime change, was a pretext for increasing Fascist policies in the US, (Fascism being corporate-government). Habeas Corpus, the right of every prisoner to challenge the terms of his or her incarceration in court before a judge, has been tossed out. The US engages in routine torture. Police forces throughout the country have been militarized.


The Orwellian-Double-Speak-Patriot-Act allows corporate-government, against, not for the people, search without warrant or probable cause, not just ‘hypothetical’ terrorists but every US citizen. Surveillance, metal detectors, routine searches, police presence are common schools. There has been a systematic dumbing down of curriculum with a pretext of improving education, more Orwellian rap. Articles and essays have been written about our schools becoming more detention camps and prisons than sanctuaries for learning.


The costs of so called higher education pimped with false promises of ‘the good job and better life’ keep going up, funded by the same predator banking schemes that caused the housing bubble and well-crafted depression. Student debt is larger than credit card debit. Education is big business. The truth is, many PhD’s are flipping hamburgers.


These forces are pervasive and relentless. We are waving toy swords at windmills to believe that our band of merry men and women will change The System. The System was not crated to actualize human potential, rather to condition it.


The larger the institution the more they are influenced by these forces. The smaller the learning center the greater the chance of real learning and expansive potential will be realized. Unschooling, free range experience based, mentored learning is the best model. No comparison. No grades, no punishment, no rewards. At its heartless core The System is really about these, conditioning, comparison, punishments and rewards that mean nothing outside of the system.


What we fail to realize is that the key to repression and control is the self-world view, persona, personal image-identity that was cast and imprisoned by these devices. Real learning frees us from the false hopes and false fears associated with this image.


A goal worth fighting for is to free young men and women from the fear induced imagined-identity that binds them. Only they can see that the King has no clothes. Only a free heart and mind can bring about a new culture.


Our fear, comparison, conditioned live in the box or be rejected self-world view is indeed a paradigm. In optimum states of learning and performance this image is not active. Consciousness is coherent, entrained, not fragmented, a house undivided. Learning is deep, rich, full of meaning. When the cultural image is active most of what is learned is in the service of the image, self-image preservation.


I prefer the term transpersonal of meta-personal rather than spiritual to describe states of being and perception that lay beyond the conditioned image-identity. Spiritual is too loaded with false interpretations.


Just as we have imagined a false noun image of ourselves we have done so to what we call God. God is not a noun, a person, place or thing. The closest I can come is ‘creation’ as a force or drive. The emergence of the neocortex some 50,000 years ago gave human being the capacity to imagine, and imagination is creation, thus the story of Adam, Eve and the apple. We are ‘in the image and likeness’ in this regard, literally.


True education would awaken each human being to this vast potential and provide the mentored experience to use it – not in service of the false image – but for wholeness, compassion, and wellbeing.


Satin in this regard is the cultural image that masks and sucks like a vampire the attention needed to develop our vast innate potential. Schooling as designed and practiced feeds and fattens the image.


This is an ancient story, force, challenge. Culture is conservative. It must force people to conform or the integrity of the culture is threatened. Add money to this repressive quest for power and control and you have corporate-government (Fascism).


One’s self-world view (self-image) emanates from these controlling, limiting, constraining, comparing, punishing and rewarding forces. This is very deep. Once infected with the image repression and control becomes self-image-generated. We do it to ourselves – to belong – a primal need.


Machiavellian public relations, politics and money self-image interests pray on this iron-madden image to do their bidding.


BUT – We are not who we think we are. The image is only active when we wonder what others will think. That means the image is active some of the time and not others. There is a gap. This gap provides the leverage to be free of the image. And in that state – we are free to actually see and create something new.


Now, the question is, can the people who care for children see this directly and liberate themselves and every child from the false hopes and false fears that blind the?

Goddard College’s 30th Current Educational Issues Conference

June 15, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Posted in AERO | Leave a comment
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Please join us at Goddard College’s Plainfield campus for our 30th Current Educational Issues Conference


Charter Schools: Promise and Peril

1:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 10

to 5:00 p.m. on Monday, July 11, 2011


For more information or to register, visit


Also visit our conference web site at

Linda Stout discusses collective visioning with young people (Video)

May 24, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Posted in AERO | Leave a comment

Linda will be a keynote speaker at the 8th annual AERO conference, “Transforming Education & Our World.”

AERO presented a talk on Collective Visioning by Linda Stout along with The Patchwork School this past Saturday.  Watch the talk in its entirety online for free at

Follow Linda’s current book tour by visiting her website at:

About Collective Visioning:
Longtime social justice activist Linda Stout details a practical process that enables everyone–even those commonly marginalized–to work together with honesty, passion, commitment, and joy to create a positive, energizing, and sustainable vision and to make that vision a reality.

“Linda Stout takes her own place in that tradition of women leaders–in the antislavery movement, the Populist movement, the labor movement. Her work forms a link between that history and the struggles to come in the twenty-first century.”
Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States

Linda Stout is founder and director of Spirit in Action. She previously led the Piedmont Peace Project in North Carolina, which won the National Grassroots Peace Award, and is the author of Bridging the Class Divide

It’s about YOU-the youth!

May 24, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Posted in AERO | 1 Comment


Amidst many issues which make an impact on the nation’s future and present health is the youth of India and citizens of tomorrow. I am only a figure out of the large battalion of youngsters brimmed up with zeal, dreams in their eyes and future in their hands. Our country is blessed with a steady supply of skilled human capital in recent decades and is proud to produce maximum number of highest minds in the world!

With the passage of time, it has been noted that our education needs a new makeover. It is very hard to gulp the bitter fact that India tops the heap in maximum number suicides where once schools were a synonym to temples and teachers next to parents. The main cause of this menace is that current ‘literacy system’ and not ‘education system’ holds grades and marks as the yardsticks to judge a person. Everyone is made to accept the statement that they need to acquire degrees to earn good salary or make big money in business or settle on foreign soil. It is a bitter reality that students seek courses which exclusively have high remuneration irrespective of their potentials and interests. There has been a sharp dip in the number of students opting for humanities although it contains vast areas like literature and tourism to excel. Neck-to-neck competition among students in every field and at every level is turning unhealthy, where inability of scoring well drives some of them to a state of depression and inferiority complex.

Incentives are not being provided adequately by schools through counselling nor by parents who are engrossed in their busy lives to boost up the child’s hidden talents and after all every child is special! Inborn capacity is sealed forever in lives of many children and is treated as money making machines. Although Indian government took a giant step by implementing free and compulsory primary education, it did not benefit much and can be seen by child workers working in factories, road side stalls etc.

Students should be motivated to set their goals from childhood and a sense of constant hard work should be instill. Fields in various professional courses should be diversified so that they get the opportunity to polish their natural in borne talents without fearing about the future. Regular counselling on psychological matters should be provided to one and all.


With the advancement of technology and fast forwarded pace of lives, it has become cumbersome for parents and teachers to nurture and guide their off springs and students properly. Although parents even in middle class families spend huge bucks to provide best amenities available and get their part of blood admitted to best schools because they believe that their loved ones don’t face any hindrances which they once faced. But they have failed to understand there’s something wrong with so-called modern education set up that there has been a quantum jump in the number of suicides. Every parent should act as guide and friend for their children to give personal attention and moral support. And even students should understand their parents too. These birds need to be taught quintessential tutorials before they launch towards the infinitude to reach the sun!! :)

Name-Rajat Agarwal


Delhi Public School,Siliguri

Ways to get out of school

May 24, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Posted in AERO | 1 Comment

This story was written by a 14 year old student who has become connected with AERO. As I’ve shown this story to others I have heard many similar and creative stories. Although we may not agree with the methods, they indicate how intensely some students feel about being trapped in a school system that doesn’t respect them. If you send your story to us we will send it on to this student and perhaps it will become part of his book. -Jerry Mintz


I hate going to school because it is boring and the teachers are mean to me. These are some of the things that I did to get out of going to school.

For example, one day I had a test in fifth period. I didn’t want to make it too obvious that that I was trying to get out of fifth period so I faked that I was sick in third period. I said, “Oh, my stomach hurts.” So they sent me to the nurse’s office. The nurse gave me a thermometer to put under my tongue. But when she turned around I took the thermometer out of my mouth and rubbed it rapidly against my pants. Then it read 102 degrees. She sent me right home, and I didn’t go to school for two days. Not only did I get out of my test but I missed two days of school!

One day I woke up and I didn’t feel like going to school. So as I was going down the stairs an idea occurred to me. I decided to throw a book down the stairs. I ran down the stairs and I laid on the floor. My Mom heard the noise and came running out of the house and she helped me to my room. And I lay in bed and didn’t go to school for three days. I got up after she went to work. When I heard her coming I ran up the stairs and got back in bed.

On another day I didn’t want to go to the school the next day because I had a test coming up. So I prepared coffee the night before and beans and carrots, chopped up. I put it into a bottle. The next morning I went downstairs to get the bottle behind the refrigerator. I ran upstairs and poured it in the toilet. I told my mom to come in and told her that I had diarrhea. She sent me to my room and I didn’t go to school that day.

I sometimes wonder what other ideas kids have for not going to school. If you do have any ideas like this send them. Maybe I’ll make a book about ways to get out of going to school.

Bringing an old idea of A.S. Neill’s back to life (Article)

May 13, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Posted in AERO | 1 Comment



By: Renee Sandler, M.A., L.M.F.T.

Some of you who know about Summerhill might remember that A.S. Neill, Summerhill’s founder, used to reward kids who stole.  He believed that those children were really, unconsciously, trying to get love through this behavior.  By satisfying the unconscious need, by rewarding it and thus showing his approval/love, he observed that children soon lost interest in this behavior.  

As an educator and psychotherapist, I have never used rewards and punishments because I believe that they are tools that adults use to control and manipulate children,  they do not consider what the child is needing underneath the behavior, they do not support the development of problem-solving skills, and because they destroy intrinsic motivation.  

Nevertheless, this idea of Neill’s stuck with me because it turns the whole notion of rewards and punishments on it’s head.  By approving of something that most people would punish, he was interested in something of way more importance than simply getting compliance and obedience.  He was interested in children feeling good about themselves.  He knew that when children were happy, they behaved well.

Currently, I am working as a therapist in some inner-city schools in Los Angeles.  Having come from a background of working in a nice, mostly white, middle-class, free, alternative school, and a mostly white, middle-class therapy private practice, this was quite a culture shock!  I had never been in a school that felt like a prison, with police and security guards everywhere, where children get barked orders at, are talked down to constantly, and where adult verbal and emotional abuse of power is the norm.   I get the sense that most, if not all, of the students that I see, have never been listened to with respect and empathy, ever.  Which is sad, yet it also makes the work so meaningful.

This was the context within which I started working with a 12-year old African-American boy.  Marcus (not his real name) was diagnosed with ADHD and also, according to his teachers and father, is a compulsive liar.  He lived with his mother until 3 years ago, when he was removed from the home, due to neglect. When his older brother got killed accidentally in a gang shooting when Marcus was five, his mother was too grief-stricken to adequately care for him. She was subsequently diagnosed with schizophrenia and placed in a psychiatric institution. Marcus lives mostly with his aunt now, but sees his father regularly.  While living with his mother, Marcus told me that “she lied all the time about everything”.  That, to him, was normal.

I had never worked with a compulsive liar (as far as I know), and was feeling a little unsure as to how to proceed.  I had worked with children and adolescents who sometimes lied because they were too afraid to be honest because of the consequences.  But never a compulsive liar, who seemed to lie as a reflex, even when there would no negative consequence to telling the truth.  (One teacher told me that he told Marcus to take his hood off his head and Marcus insisted that it was off, when it clearly wasn’t.)  I did not want to make him feel bad, not trusted, or guilty, since he was already receiving enough of that, and clearly did not need more of it.  Still, I  wanted to bring his awareness to this behavior because it was clearly impacting his relationships with the adults in his life, and leaving him feeling angry and isolated.  

I’m not sure why this idea of rewarding Marcus for his lying came to me, but for some reason, I felt he would be responsive to it. I had been working with him twice a week, for approximately a month, when I decided to approach him with my idea. I was curious as to how he would react.  I told to him that I would like to check in with him periodically during our sessions to see if he had told me any lies, and that every time he admitted to one, I would give him some chocolate or gum.  A look of disbelief came over him, but his eyes grew big.  He clearly seemed intrigued by the idea and agreed to try it.  I suggested using a gesture, perhaps my putting my hand out (as if for chocolate), instead of asking he had lied about anything (because of the negative connotation of the word), and he would put his hand out if he had become aware of a lie he had told.  He liked this idea.  I then proceeded to give it a try.  I put my hand out and said, “Anything so far?”  To which he replied, “I can’t tell you because we only just started this.  It’s from now on, not from 10 minutes ago.” He smiled and I smiled. I said, “You’re absolutely right.  My mistake.  It’s from now on.”

From that moment on, I sensed that he has become more present in our sessions.  He has taken this plan very seriously.  When I put my hand out, he gets quiet and reflective for a moment, and thinks back to the last 5, 10 or 15 minutes.  Sometimes, he says, “No, nothing”.  Other times he will say something like,  “Oh yeah, I didn’t tell you the whole truth when my aunt said I stole her neclace.  I didn’t steal it, but I saw it under her lamp, but I didn’t tell her.”  Somehow, my giving him chocolate allows him to feel safe enough with me to share his deeper feelings of anger toward his aunt, and longing for his mother, that he could not do before we started this plan.  It is as if he seems to feel that not only am I accepting of his lies, but on a deeper level, I am accepting of him as a person.  He is eager to show me the good grades he  has gotten, tell me about the music he likes, and have me watch him play his favorite video game.   Sometimes he visits me at lunch to see if I have any extra chocolate. He is slowly letting me in to his world and allowing me to get close to him, in a way that hopefully, will allow him as he gets older, to start doing with other people too.

I never would have guessed that this one intervention, could be so powerful.  In today’s world, where children are mostly medicated and/or punished for behavioral difficulties,  it is wonderfully refreshing to have other, significantly more humane methods of reaching children. Thanks Neill, for being the innovator that you were and showing us how love, acceptance and approval really can and do work. 

Educating for a Better World (Offerings)

April 25, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Posted in AERO | Leave a comment
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IHE’s “Educating for a Better World” Summer Institute for Teachers June 27 – July 1. Teachers spend a week on the beautiful Maine coast learning how to bring issues of social justice, environmental preservation, human rights and animal protection into their classrooms and communities: FMI

Graduate programs in Humane Education – Enrollment is now open for five two-year distance-learning graduate programs in humane education offered by IHE in affliation with Valparaiso University. The curriculm is taught and developed by the leaders and pioneers in humane education. Core courses include Intro to Humane Education, Environmental Ethics, Animal Protection, Human Rights, Culture and Change. FMI

Online Course: Six-week course “Teaching for a Positive Future” July 11 – Aug 19 or Oct 17 – Dec 2, for educators who want to inspire their students to become leaders and changemakers for a healthy, peaceful, and sustainable world. FMI:

Jerry Mintz on Starting Unschooling Resource Centers (Audio)

April 25, 2011 at 10:55 am | Posted in AERO | Leave a comment
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Jerry Mintz was just interviewed by Barb Lundgren, the organizer for Rethinking Everything Conference.

Jerry will be presenting on starting unschooling resource centers at the conference, which is held September 2-5, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  Find out more at:

Listen to the interview here: Jerry Mintz Interview with Barb Lundgren

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