Free AERO Membership With Registration
Can Youth Vote Change Election? 
Yong Zhao, Keynote Speaker for the 2016 AERO Conference.
Zhao TEDx Talk
 Conference info here. Portland AERO Registration is only $225, but will rise soon. Workshop proposals now accepted here

Free AERO Membership This Week Only!
Free AERO Membership if you Register This Week!
We had a flood of registrations last week some using the deposit and some paying the full early bird rate. This week we are giving all who register a free AERO membership, worth $40 for an individual and $75 for an organization. This gives you a link from our member site if you are a school or organization, 10% discount on our books, etc. To register for the AERO conference (August 3-7, Portland, OR) go here. We'll automatically give you membership. 

Hotel and Food
We have negotiated something with the Holiday Inn Portland Airport which saves you even more money. There is no food package. So you can eat at the hotel restaurant, go out, or bring your own food. 

This hotel has a little less capacity than the previous one, so it makes sense to reserve your room soon. You can cancel up to 48 hours before the conference. We already have three groups that are planning training programs that include the AERO conference, so we may start filling up fast. Let us know if you have a group you plan to bring so we can give you a group rate. You can call the hotel at 503 256 5000. Mention the AERO conference to get the $119 rate. Otherwise it is over $200!
Workshops List and Application
We're quite blown away by the quality of the workshops that have been submitted for the AERO conference that will be in Portland, OR, from August 3-7. We have now approved 25 of them. You can see them summarized here. You can apply to present a workshop here.

On the 3rd of August we plan to have school visits and trips. The main conference starts on the 4th. 
We will accept only another 15 workshops because the format for the first day will be an exciting array of TED-like mini-talks. 

First Day Mini-Talk Form
We now have a form to submit a proposal for a 15 minute TED-like presentation on the first day of the AERO conference. These will be presented to all the conference participants. Some may be stand alone, but may also be introductions for people doing other workshops. Some will be eventually available on Youtube. To apply to do a mini-talk just click here. You can also still submit regular workshop presentations here. We're particularly interested in workshops that are experiential and interactive, and workshops for younger participants.
New Patron Registration
As you know, AERO has always had a policy of working hard to find a way for low income people to participate in the conference. Sometimes we arrange volunteer slots, give fundraising advice, etc. Now, in addition, we are featuring a new patron registration, which allows people to register at a higher rate, half of which is tax deductible. You can see more about it here

You can now reserve a vendor table here

Keynoter Poll
We like to have as our keynoters people who are important to our movement of learner-centered education. To aid us in this search here is a quick poll:
Send us the names of people you think are among the most important to our movement, people you would like to have as keynoters this year or in the future. Just reply to this e mail or write to We're lucky that our first keynoter this year was our first choice, Yong Zhao (see above right). 
How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off

THEY learn to read at age 2, play Bach at 4, breeze through calculus at 6, and speak foreign languages fluently by 8. Their classmates shudder with envy; their parents rejoice at winning the lottery. But to paraphrase T. S. Eliot, their careers tend to end not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Consider the nation's most prestigious award for scientifically gifted high school students, the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, called the  Super Bowl of science by one American president. From its inception in 1942 until 1994, the search  recognized more than 2000 precocious teenagers as finalists. But just 1 percent  ended up making the National Academy of Sciences, and just eight have won Nobel Prizes. For every Lisa Randall who revolutionizes theoretical physics, there are many dozens who fall far short of their potential.

Child prodigies  rarely become  adult geniuses who change the world. We assume that they must lack the social and emotional skills to function in society. When you look at the evidence, though, this explanation doesn't suffice: Less than a quarter of gifted children suffer from social and emotional problems. A vast majority are well adjusted - as winning at a cocktail party as in the spelling bee.

Read the rest here.
The Testing Opt-out Movement is Growing, Despite Government Efforts to Kill it
The U.S. Education Department is warning states that they could be sanctioned if their public schools can't force at least 95 percent of their students to take mandated standardized tests for "accountability" purposes. The warnings became necessary because of a growing testing "opt out" movement around the country that stemmed from the Obama administration's push to use standardized test scores to evaluate students and teachers in unprecedented ways, using methods that assessment experts say are not valid for that purpose.

Read the rest here.
Neurodiversity: The New Normal
People diagnosed with autism have challenged us to stop talking about "having" autism as though it was a disease. We now talk about the autism spectrum - which we are all on to some degree. We could apply the same approach to ADD/ADHD. We all have issues with regulating attention.

There are lots of ability spectrums we could put ourselves on. We are moving away from talking about "disorders" that we "have" or "don't have" - like diseases - to just talking about the way we're made. There is no one way that a brain should function. All brains are different, and there are many ways of being smart.

Read the rest here.
Can Youth Vote Change Election Outcomes?
With the first caucuses of the presidential election year imminent, it's worth asking: Who will turn out among young voters in Iowa and subsequent states? And could their choices help swing the final result to the underdogs instead of the presumed front-runners?

Young Iowans represent an unusual voter bloc: They are more likely to be white and married than their similarly aged peers in other states, and they're also significantly less likely to have a foreign-born parent - 3.5 percent compared to over 20 percent nationally, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University. As The Guardian notes, there's another reason why the polls could see an uptick in younger Iowa voters:

Read the rest here.
If You Want Your Children to Survive the Future, Send Them to Art School
Can you imagine a world in which most jobs are obsolete?

If not, you are most likely in for a rude awakening in the coming decades of radical shifts in employment. This is particularly true for new parents propelling the next generation of workers into an adulthood that many economists and futurists predict to be the first ever " post-work" society.

Read the rest here.
.Michael Hynes, superintendent in Patchogue, New York, has been outspoken against the current wave of test-driven reform in New York State.
He posted the following comment:
What is Best for our Children
Many parents, educators and legislators are talking about the possibility of federal and state funds being withheld from schools. The fact is, hundreds of New York State public schools fell below the 95% participation rate for the 3-8 assessments last year. Here are some facts you should know before testing season begins this spring:

Read the rest here.
New Fearless Teaching Interview!
This is an interview Stuart Grauer just did about his new book, Fearless Teaching, which is published by AERO. 
Watch the video here .

You can order the book here with a $5 discount by using the code "fearless"
New SelfDesign Graduate Institute Webinars
SelfDesign Graduate Institute FACULTY WEBINARS
All webinars are one hour; all are free

February 7,   1 PM PST -Dancing with Ambiguity, with Pille Bunnell.  Please register here.

February 14,  5 PM PST - Language as A Field of Energy and Pedagogy, with Anna Soter.
Please register here.

February 21,  4 PM PST -Introduction to SelfDesign Praxis: Tools and Practices for an Integral Learning Experience, with Clarissa Tufts.
Please register here.

February 28, 4 PM PST-   Learn Your Way - 'Personal Ecolography' with Michael Maser
Please register here.
Links and Calendar
Thank you for your ongoing support. With  your help, we will make learner-centered alternatives available to everyone!

In Service,

Jerry Mintz
Executive Director
Alternative Education Resource Organization

Please consider making a donation to AERO to help support our work. Thanks!