01 Mar 2015

Conference on Alternative and Child-Centered Education

Category: Alternative EducationAdmin @ 6:28 pm

The Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO) is the best resource I know for learning about alternatives in education. Their conference in Portland, Oregon, which I attended a few years ago, was fantastic. I heartily recommend this year’s conference, which will be near New York City from May 20 to 24, 2015.

Presentations will include a variety of learner-centered approaches, including democratic education, progressive education, homeschooling, Montessori, Waldorf, charter schools, magnet schools, and more.

Keynote speakers include:

  • Sugata Mitra, the creator of the “Hole in the Wall” experiments in India where computers were placed in walls accessible to children. Many of the children came from rural slums and had never seen a computer before. Cameras recorded the children as they helped each other to figure out what the computers were all about and how to use them, entirely without any adult instruction. Mr. Mitra was the winner of the TED prize in 2013.
  • Zoe Weil, the co-founder and president of the Institute for Humane Education (IHE). Ms. Weil has written books and articles on humane education and humane living and given a number of Ted Talks. She also created IHE’s M.Ed., M.A. and graduate certificate programs.
  • Yaacov Hecht, who founded the Democratic School in Hadera, Israel, in 1987 and has since been involved in establishing a number of additional democratic schools all over Israel. He was a keynote speaker for the Portland conference I attended, where he was not only informative and inspiring, but also used wonderful humor to make his points. In 1993, he founded the first International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC), which has continued giving conferences to this day. Soon after, Mr. Hecht founded the Institute for Democratic Education in Israel (IDE). In 2010, Hecht co-founded “Education Cities-the Art of Collaborations.”
  • Amy Valens taught in alternative schools in California for many years and more recently was involved in making documentary films about alternative education, including “August to June,” “A Year at Mission Hill,” and “Good Morning Mission Hill.”
  • Deborah Meier, long-time American educator who founded and directed the Central Park East School, a progressive alternative school in East Harlem within the New York City public schools. The success of this school led to work with two other elementary schools, for which she was principal, and later the founding of the Central Park East Secondary School. She continued her work promoting progressive education with her involvement in establishing additional small public schools in New York City and then a K-8 school in the Boston area. She is currently an adjunct professor of New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education and has authored and co-authored a number of books on education.

For more information, go to AERO’s 2015 Conference page.

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