North Star: Start-up, Organizational Development, and Suggestions for Replication (VIDEO)

March 31, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Posted in AERO, AERO Conference, AERO Online Video Series | Leave a comment
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Presented by Kenneth Danford

From the original description:
North Star Is the first organization of its sort in the world: a community center supporting teens to leave school and use homeschooling as a means to design and pursue their own learning. One of our long-term goals is to use our success as a model to encourage others to create similar programs in their own communities. We do not wish that every teen homeschool, but we do wish that every community might have a center such as North Star.

This workshop will focus on the organizational development of North Star: from two disillusioned teachers with a dream through its creation in 1996 to its current status.

Kenneth Danford is the co-founder and Executive Director of North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens in Hadley, MA. Prior to establishing North Star in 1996, Kenneth taught in the Amherst, MA public schools and the Prince George’s County, MD public schools, as an 8th grade U.S. History teacher in both systems. As a student, Kenneth excelled in high school and college, and would not have chosen homeschooling had the option been presented to him. He anticipated a career in public education until he became disillusioned with the system due to his teaching experiences.

Challenging Racial Inequality in Our Schools: An Interview With Pedro Noguera (VIDEO)

March 29, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Posted in AERO, AERO Online Video Series | Leave a comment
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As a leading urban sociologist, Pedro Noguera examines how schools are influenced by social and economic conditions in the urban environment. Here, he talks about the importance of public schools.

Rare John Holt Videos

March 29, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Posted in AERO, AERO Online Video Series | 1 Comment
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Thanks to Pat Farenga for sharing this:

John Holt on question versus quiz

John Holt on learning pronouns

Critical Pedagogy and Social Justice in the 21st Century: From a High School Student’s Perspective (VIDEO)

March 29, 2010 at 11:22 am | Posted in AERO | 1 Comment
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Presented by Mathew Davis

Mathew Davis will be a keynote speaker at the 2010 AERO conference in June.  Visit find out more.

Original Description:

This is an informational workshop/discussion followed by Q&A led by artist, public intellectual, and recent public high school graduate Mathew Davis. The workshop will cover a myriad of topics including:


*Potential of public schools as apparatus for social justice

*Critical pedagogy

*Authentic artist expression

*Issues and challenges that face youth in 21st century and how they effect survival in the future

*How youth can confront and change them

*Organizing and building a movement


*New society and an era of social and economic justice

Educating for Human Greatness – A Higher Vision of Teaching, Thinking and Learning (VIDEO)

March 27, 2010 at 8:42 am | Posted in AERO, AERO Conference, AERO Online Video Series | Leave a comment
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Presented by Lynn Stoddard at the 2009 AERO conference.  You can find out more about AERO conference at

From the 2009 workshop description:

Workshop will invite participants to adopt the attitudes and abilities of extraordinary teachers and parents. Reading, writing, math and other disciplines are taught as tolls, not as goals, to help students grow in Seven Dimensions of Human Greatness and become valuable contributors to society.

Part 1/2

Part 2/2

Nel Noddings Keynote Talk @ Voyagers’ Conference 2009 (VIDEO)

March 20, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Posted in AERO, AERO Online Video Series, Education Events, New Resource | Leave a comment
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Voyagers’ Community School is hosting their 2nd annual conference May 18-21. Visit for more information.

On January 22nd and 23rd Voyager Community School in New Jersey hosted an important conference, one which may set a precedent for other alternative schools around the country. It was called Creativity, Community and Conscience, Progressive Education in the 21st Century and was held at the school in Farmingdale, New Jersey.

One if the major speakers, Nel Noddings, is a well known author and professor of Education at Stanford University. She spent seventeen years as an elementary and high school mathematics teacher and school administrator, before earning her PhD and beginning work as an academic in the fields of philosophy of education, theory of education and ethics, specifically moral education and ethics of care. She became a member of the Stanford faculty in 1977, and was the Jacks Professor of Child Education from 1992 until 1998. While at Stanford University she received awards for teaching excellence in 1981, 1982 and 1997, and was the associate dean or acting dean of the School of Education for four years. After leaving Stanford University, she held positions at Columbia University and Colgate University. She is past president of the Philosophy of Education Society and the John Dewey Society. In 2002-2003 she held the John W. Porter Chair in Urban Education at Eastern Michigan University. She has been Lee L. Jacks Professor of Education, Emerita, at Stanford University since she retired in 1998.

Nel Noddings has 10 children and in 2004 had been married for 54 years. She has described her early educational experiences and her close relationships as key in her development of her philosophical position.

Contributions to philosophy
Noddings’ first sole-authored book Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education(1984) followed close on the 1982 publication of Carol Gilligan’s ground-breaking work in the ethics of care In a Different Voice. While her work on ethics continued, with the publication of Women and Evil (1989), and later works on moral education, most of her later publications have been on the philosophy of education and educational theory. Her most significant works in these areas have been Educating for Intelligent Belief or Unbelief (1993) and Philosophy of Education (1995).

The DVD of her talk is now available only through the AERO Bookstore in conjunction with Voyagers’ Community School (

New Orleans Free School Documentary (VIDEO)

March 9, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Posted in AERO, AERO Online Video Series, New Resource | 1 Comment
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A Film by Mika Buser-Ferris

You can purchase a DVD of the film online at


Here’s an article written before the school’s closure in 2005:

Finding freedom in school

By Lolis Eric Elie

Staff writer/The Times-Picayune

As the documentary “The Free School” opens, it is the late 1960s. The New Orleans Free School is emerging from this idealistic time as an alternative vision of how children can be educated in America. Founded largely by self-described hippies, the school sought to provide an educational experience that placed more emphasis on freedom than on structure. It placed more emphasis on individual needs than on the achievements of the class as a whole.

Whole new world

“The Free School” is one of the many films that will be shown Sunday as part of the New Orleans Film Festival.

This year’s offerings range from “Shalom Y’all,” a documentary about Jews in the South, to “Happy Here and Now,” a “funky and futuristic” feature set in New Orleans, to “Bowling for Columbine,” filmmaker Michael Moore’s latest critique of American culture and politics. “The Free School” stands out because it documents an attempt to create a new approach to education. Given the mounting evidence that American public schools are not fulfilling their mission, it is interesting to observe a school trying to define a different approach to that mission.

As the film documents, the school’s inception was a grass-roots effort. For teachers, academic credentials were less important than a belief in the school’s mission. For students, ability to function in a structured environment meant less than the ability to be creative.

“We were trying to achieve both: that they would be happier and that they would learn just as much as other kids,” said Martha, a teacher who, like everyone else in the film and the school, goes only by her first name.

“We lived, ate and breathed the Free School. It was our lives,” said Bob, a staff member.

“And we saw it not only as educational change, but as social change, a way to redirect America,” he said.

“The Free School prepared me for a world that didn’t exist outside the Free School,” said Saddi, a graduate. “Inside, I was friends with people of all cultures and races. After I left the Free School, it wasn’t like that.”

Decades of change

In the 30 years since its founding, much has changed at the Free School. The most obvious change has been the move from its initial location on the bottom floor of a commune, where it was housed briefly, to its current location in a more orthodox school building on Camp Street. It has gone from being totally independent to being a part of the Orleans Parish public school system. It has grown from 30 students to 300.

The school has had difficulty maintaining its independent ideals in the midst of these changes. But the school, like the film, stands out as a testament to the role creativity and innovation should play in developing alternative approaches to public education.

Turning Points and Two Conflicting Paradigms (VIDEO, Jerry Mintz)

March 8, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Posted in AERO, AERO Conference, AERO Online Video Series | Leave a comment
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Some of the most poignant turning points in the new book by the same name will be cited as examples of the conflicting paradigms of learning centered curriculum versus traditional curriculum driven approaches.

An unedited, pre-publication copy of Turning Points can be purchased at

Part One:

Part Two:

Voyagers’ Community School 2nd Annual Education Conference

March 5, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Posted in AERO, Education Events | Leave a comment
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Voyagers’ Community School 2nd Annual Education Conference

“The Value of Community”

Teaching and Learning In Community With Children and Adolescents

Keynote Speaker: Lella Gandini, EdD

May 18 – 21, 2010

Farmingdale, NJ for more information

Workshops Include

Doing Democracy with Young Children

Elizabeth Baker, Founder and Director of The Patchwork School, Louisville, Colorado

Developing Genuine Relationships Through the Art of Play

Karen Chayot, CDA and Kathy Goldenberg, MEd Co-Founders, The Project P.L.A.Y. School

The Richness of Collaboration Between School Communities: The Mushroom Project

Kadi Cook, MEd, Teacher/Researcher, Voyagers’ Community School and Debra Piescor, Master Teacher, A Child’s Place School

Negotiating Learning in Community with Children: Vibrant engagement and anticipation

Karen Giuffre’, MEd, Founder and Director of Voyagers’ Community School

Democratic Education: Foundations & Practice

Isaac Graves, Outreach Coordinator and Conference Director for The Alternative Education Resource Organization

When Students Aspirations Challenge a Teacher’s Sensibility

Richard Knab, Teacher/Researcher, Voyagers’ Community School

Lego and Math: The Perfect Match

Sandy Miller, Teacher/Researcher, Voyagers’ Community School

Designing An Atelier With Children at the Helm

Kelly Sadowski, Voyagers’ Parent, Board Member NJEEPRE

Using Creative Art to Express Ideas about Where Lions and Tigers Live When They Are Not in a Zoo

Susan Wier, Master Teacher, A Child’s Place School

Can Money Buy Education?

March 5, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Posted in AERO, Education News | Leave a comment
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By Shannon Hayes

Courtesy of YES! Magazine

Radical homemaker Shannon Hayes taught her daughter that their family doesn’t buy things they can make or grow at home. She then had to wonder: Does that include higher education?

This past November, I began a home school unit with my six-year-old daughter, Saoirse, on money. We opened our investigation by reading stories on the history of money. To paraphrase, early people originally made the things they needed. Then they began trading for the things they needed or wanted that they couldn’t make. The barter system worked out fine, as long as each party in the exchange had something that the other wanted. When that was no longer the case, money entered the marketplace as a tool to facilitate exchange. Eventually, in an effort to devise something that was relatively portable and of somewhat universal value, the Sumerians came up with the first silver coins.

From Ancient Sumerians to Modern Sustainability

Saoirse and I traveled around our home and farm and explored the different things we do to earn money, and the different things we spend it on. When it came to the spending, I explained the basic process that my husband Bob and I adhere to. When we are in a store and see something we think we want or need, the first, most important question we must ask ourselves is, “Is this something we can make or grow ourselves?” To illustrate, we talked about the grocery store. “Would we buy meat in a grocery store?”

“No,” she answered.

“Why not?”

“Because we grow it ourselves.” I smiled at the aptitude of my brilliant scholar.

Confident she was understanding, I continued my lesson. “If we decide that this is something we can’t make ourselves, then we must next ask three questions. One: Is it good for the planet? Two:Is it good for my community? Three: Is it important to me?” In an effort to keep things as simple as possible, I told her that typically, if you can answer “yes” to at least two out of the three questions, then you proceed to the final question: Can I afford it?

Read the entire article at

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