AERO conference held in Portland, OR was an expansive experience. One that was akin to drinking from a fire hydrant. Although it is difficult to make a list of takeaways, I learned:
1. For decades ordinary people have been doing extraordinary things to further the cause of choice and voice for children and their parents in terms of their educational journey.
2. The story of educational alternatives is actually about children's rights to be treated as humans with shared power in their world, rather than beings that are powered over from external adult forces.
3. Motivated, impassioned entrepreneurs are using all kinds of hybrid models to provide educational alternatives in their communities. Very few of the models (Democratic, ALC, Liberated Learners, Other) were represented in their pure forms. Most entities were hybrids (elements borrowed from all forms of established alternatives), with the common thread of holding respect and space for the learner while caring for their parents' concerns.
4. A viable financial model, location and Parents' concerns of the path less travelled are shared challenges to most alternative entities. People are passionate about what they do and strive to make these alternatives reachable to all learners that desire this route; and thus this path is clearly not driven by financial gain, rather mostly strives to just have sustainability.
5. Wayfinding Academy in Portland, OR offers an
Associates Degree in Self & Society. The founder created
this model as she continually found college students finishing
their bachelor's degrees however have not found their
own passions. They schedule 3-10 week semesters which
allows for one month in between semesters to travel
with the group. I appreciate the idea of this schedule to
ensure group travel and enhancing our learning through