Participants

These individuals and organizations will be offering workshops, open discussions, panels, or talks at the unconference. See the schedule for more information on dates and times.

(listed alphabetically by participant’s first name / organization name)

6BC Botanical Garden6BC Botanical Garden is a community garden in the East Village of New York City. The garden was started on a rubble-strewn empty lot in the early 1980s. It is completely cared for and run by community members, all volunteers. We are a Green Thumb garden, and we work with a variety of community garden coalitions and environmental groups to ensure the continued health of all community gardens–and a greener future for all of us.
Offering: Garden Tour & Lunch 6BC is located right next the Sixth Street Community Center, where the unconference will be taking place Saturday and Sunday. 6BC has kindly invited our unconference attendees to eat lunch or take a break from the unconference in their gorgeous garden (please stay on the paths when in the garden!) Tables for lunch will be reserved for our unconference from 1pm – 3pm Saturday and Sunday (weather permitting). Additionally, garden Board member and volunteer Janene Knox has kindly offered to give us a short walking tour of their garden on Saturday at 3pm. Meet at the entrance to the garden promptly at 3pm for the tour.

Akilah S. RichardsAkilah S. Richards is a writer, mama, partner, digital nomad, and unschooling activist. She produces podcasts, books, classes, and articles on radical self-expression in practice and in study. Find her conversations and commentary at akilahsrichards.com/podcast/ where she aims to support, connect, and highlight people of color designing their own liberation through Self-Directed Education and love-centered community building.

Offering: Raising Free People | A Live Session A brief, live version of a 9-week workshop. We are challenging the things we held in our minds as true, getting to know the world through our own lenses, and seeing how we were participating in the oppression of our own people through our parenting, caregiving, and overall relationships with children. Raising Free People workshop is the space for us to apply what we’re learning* into the way we raise and relate to children. And into the way we support children in owning themselves. Key Question: How do I want to feel in my relationships with children, and what am I doing to stay aligned with my desired feeling?

Agile Learning Center NYCAgile Learning Center NYC is New York City’s first Agile Learning Center. It is an independent school for self-directed learners. Students at Agile Learning Centers individualize their learning within the context of a supportive community. We have adapted simple tools for self-organization and intentional culture creation to better support young people in engaging with their passions and curiosities while shaping the environment of the school. Agile Learning Center NYC is a co-organizer of the rooted us unconference.

Brooklyn Apple AcademyBrooklyn Apple Academy is Brooklyn’s first and only Home School Resource Center. In addition to their full day programs, they offer meet ups, makershop access, classes, events, and room for the community to flourish!

They believe that children should have meaningful experiences with the world outside the classroom. Students at B.A.A. are given the time to play outdoors, and the space and resources they need to sustain their curiosity, and become inspired, independent learners.

Fernanda PerroneFernanda Perrone received her B.A. and M.A. from McGill University, D. Phil in history from Oxford University, and an M.L.S. from Rutgers University. Since 1992, she has worked as an archivist at Rutgers University, specializing in women’s manuscript collections and the history of education. In one of her first projects at Rutgers, she arranged and described the archives of the Modern School of Stelton in 1996. Since then, she has continued to acquire archival materials for the Modern School Collection and frequently gives presentations and curates exhibitions about the history of the Modern School.

In her community, she serves as president of the Hall Education Fund, Inc., a non-profit that gives scholarships for New Brunswick residents to pursue further education; and as vice president of New Brunswick Sister Cities, Inc. She has served as a trustee of the Friends of the Modern School for many years and is currently the president of the organization.

Offering: (co-offering with Jon Scott) Modern School Collection Presentation, A discussion of the rise and fall of the Stelton Modern School and Ferrer Colony at the special collections archive at Rutgers University, including the educational methods used in the school, the diverse makeup of the community and some examples from the collection. Although the Modern School closed in 1953, its legacy continues today. The collection was established and developed from 1994, when I became the curator.

Friends of the Modern SchoolFriends of the Modern School maintains the history of and advocates for new forms of anarchistic education. Founded in 1973, Friends of the Modern School began when some historians and former students of the Stelton Modern School came together to document the rich history of the Modern Schools, which began with Francisco Ferrer’s Escuela Moderna in Barcelona in 1901. The Modern School of New York City opened in 1911. Friends has held an annual meeting since 1973, this year’s meeting being held at this event. Friends of the Modern School is a co-organizer of the rooted us unconference.

Gina Riley, Ph.D.Gina Riley, Ph.D. is an educational psychologist and Clinical Professor/Program Coordinator of the Adolescent Special Education program at CUNY – Hunter College. She is a seasoned academic, with almost 20 years of teaching, research, and supervisory experience within the fields of special education, psychology, school psychology, and mental health counseling. For the past 18 years, Dr. Riley’s research has concentrated on topics relating to homeschooling, unschooling, and intrinsic motivation/self determination; an interest stemmed in part from unschooling her own child from birth – 12th grade. Recent peer reviewed articles have focused on young adult unschooling outcomes, homeschooling and intrinsic motivation, unschoolers who also identify as LGBTQ, and how unschoolers learn to read. Dr. Riley also has extensive experience in online education and distance learning at the college/university level.

Offering: Unschooling: Understanding the past, living the present, looking towards the future, To truly understand the unschooling movement – one must understand it’s past. The first part of this talk will focus on the entire history of the unschooling movement, including exploration of Rousseau, Neill, Illich, and Holt’s work. I will then discuss the evolution of homseschooling into different forms or philosophies, including the realm of unschooling.

The basic definition and core philosophy of unschooling will be then be overviewed, including demographics of the movement, why families choose unschooling, and how unschoolers learn without the subject based limitations of formal schooling/a set curriculum. The focus will be on unschooling as completely self directed and intrinsically motivated learning.

Then, the question “what happens when unschoolers grow up?” will be answered. Research focused on unschooled adults’ feelings about their unschooling experience will be reviewed. Then, outcomes regarding higher education, careers, financial independence, and future plans will be summarized.

Finally, the future of unschooling will be discussed. As the unschooling movement has grown over the past two decades, different branches of unschooling have evolved. Worldschooling, freeschooling, hackschooling and unschooling cooperatives will be introduced.

Will unschooling one day serve as a model for more traditional schools in the future? Will we see a push for more intrinsically motivated, self directed learning as part of a push for school reform? Will the more exploratory elements of an unschooling environment make it’s way into the public realm? The future of this movement will be thoroughly explored.

The session will end with an in depth Q and A session.

Interference ArchiveInterference Archive explores the relationship between cultural production and social movements. This work manifests in an open stacks archival collection, publications, a study center, and public programs including exhibitions, workshops, talks, and screenings, all of which encourage critical and creative engagement with the rich history of social movements.

The archive contains many kinds of objects that are created as part of social movements by the participants themselves: posters, flyers, publications, photographs, books, T-shirts and buttons, moving images, audio recordings, and other materials. Their programming uses this cultural ephemera to animate histories of people mobilizing for social transformation. Use of their collection is considered to be a way of preserving and honoring histories and material culture that is often marginalized in mainstream institutions.

Jacinda MooreJacinda Moore is a senior software engineer with ControlShift Labs, where they help build online tools for community organizing. Outside work, they’re involved with local campaigns for housing justice and immigrant rights. In their spare time, Jacinda enjoys gardening, knitting, and science fiction.

Offering: Online Events Tools: What’s There, What’s Missing, What Do You Need?, Whether you’re organizing a protest on your street, or coordinating hundreds of house parties across the country, you’ve likely used software on the web as part of the process. There are dozens of options available, from Facebook to custom-built software, each with pros and cons. We’ll quickly go over what some of the options are, then discuss what’s been useful and what’s been frustrating about events tools in our organizing experience.

Jaclyn KatzJaclyn Katz is a Canadian Educator, playwright living in Oakland, CA. In the spring of 2017, she completed her MA in Social Practice and Public Forms with a focus on radical pedagogies. During her research and fieldwork, she developed a curriculum and philosophy for teaching Activist-Theater rooted in futurology that she implements at Children’s Day Middle School in the Mission of San Francisco where she is the full-time drama teacher. Jackie is an unfaltering advocate for work that gives agency to young people and that values their innate wisdom as educators and leaders within our society. She has offered artful learning opportunities and peer mentoring in refugee centers for over 14 years. Jackie is on the board of directors for the non-profit play:groundNYC, an adventure playground on Governor’s Island in New York City providing vast outdoor space for young people to imagine and build their own play spaces.

Offering: Stellarvisions: Imagining Futures & Self-Directed Activist Theater, The aim of this facilitation method that Jackie will share is to work with Young People and their undervalued brilliance – and use Theatre metaphorically to critically assess the fragile state of the human world by imagining alternate futures. It correlates strongly to the philosophy of Augusto Boal’s book and practice ‘Theatre of the Oppressed.’ The facilitation also seeks to honor the history of self-directed learning and of the innate play-based learning of our furthest back recorded ancestors based in our most natural instinct to learn. Stellarvisions favors the process of its implementation rather than the outcomes. In bringing this into the classroom or into formal workshops with young people -it is intended that the throughlines are: art and a creative spirit, unlearning reality and learning expansive speculation, performance and physical freedom to express and philosophy.


Friends of the Modern SchoolJon Scott was born on “Mother Earth” Farm in East Taghkanic, N.Y in 1932 to self-proclaimed “Thoreauvian Anarchists.” He attended the Modern School in Stelton, N.J. from 1934 to 1946. He received a BS in Biochemistry from Cornell University in 1954 and a PhD in Meteorology from the Univ. of Wisconsin Madison in 1964, after being a pilot and radar controller in the USAF. He was a member of the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Science at the University at Albany for 32 years, being Chair from 1990 to 1996 when he retired. He was the Secretary/Treasurer of the Friends of the Modern School from 1992 to 2017 helping to organize annual meetings and discussions. Jon’s research interests were in Physical Limnology and Oceanography, study of the influence of environment on natural vegetation, acid deposition, solar energy and most recently on the mechanism of plate tectonics. He lives in a passive solar home in Altamont, N.Y.

Offering: (co-offering with Fernanda Perrone) The Effect of a Modern School Education on My Life, my life as a child in the Ferrer Modern School of Stelton from 1934 to 1946 (age two to fourteen) was the most important period of my life. Being allowed to learn by myself, or with others, caused me to be an independent thinker throughout of my career in science. I did not do things that most other scientists do. Not following the crowd, so to speak, was rooted in my life at the Modern School and probably not by my nature. I will review some of these differences from the normal way of thinking in my talk. I credit Alexis and Elizabeth Ferm and my parents for leading me into a life of free thought and action.

Between 1910 and 1960 more than twenty Modern Schools were established in different parts of the country where children might study in an atmosphere of freedom and self-reliance, in contrast to the formality and discipline of the ​conventional classroom.​ ​Their founders, moreover, were anarchists​ who ​sought to abolish all forms of authority, political and economic as well as educational, and to usher in a new society based on the voluntary cooperation of free individuals.

Maleka DiggsMaleka Diggs is a racial equity and inclusion trainer and founder of Philadelphia- based Eclectic Learning Network; a secular, Black & Brown centered home education network with a focus on supporting unschooling and self- directed education families through community, connection, and awarenesses that reflect the cultural and interest-driven needs of our young people.

Offering: Strewing – confronting your fears, Transitioning toward and/or through Self-Directed Education or Unschooling offers amazing benefits but can also bring levels of unsureness. Through overt and covert moments, challenges, fears, and doubt have the capacity to give you pause and at times come full stop. Through “strewing” (scattering objects that spark interest and curiosity), participants will connect in real-time with all the feels and utilize what’s speaking to them in the moment to define our time together. Through exercises involving movement, writing prompts and open discussion, participants will begin unpacking those feelings, its impact as well as tools that center respectful parenting when connecting with your young people, yourself, and beyond. This workshop is suitable for parents in all stages of SDE or Unschooling seeking deeper awareness when supporting themselves and their young people through this journey.

Marley RichardsMarley Richards, 15, is an unschooler and avid dancer. She finds a way to include social justice work in all her interests, mostly character design and K-Pop.

Offering: K-pop & Me This is a workshop is about my frustrations with regard to the flippant use of Black American culture in media (specifically K-Pop), all while black people themselves are routinely disrespected and disregarded. We will cover appropriation vs. appreciation from a very self-assured standpoint, meaning very little handholding/coddling, but plenty of space for honest discussion.

 

​Dr. ​Raul Olmo Fregoso Bailon​,​ Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor​ in the​ Department of Educational Foundations and Policy Studies at West Chester University of Pennsylvania​. He is also the International Advisory Committee UNESCO Chair in Democracy, Global Citizenship & Transformative Education (DCMET).

Offering: Zapatista Education-Epistemology, The Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, or EZLN)​ was founded on January 1, 1994 in the state of Chiapas in Mexico. It is considered one of the most influential revolutionary groups in modern ​history. This workshop will look at the Zapatista’s education in their own community-controlled schools​ that focus on hands-on learning, social justice,​ and autonomy.

Mel Compo​Mel Compo is an artist, writer, and facilitator at the New York City Agile Learning Center. ALC-NYC is the flagship of an international network, and a space for children to self-direct their learning and practice intentional culture creation. Their work with children centers play, art-making, city-adventuring, and open discussions about bodies, gender, narrative, emotional intelligence, brain plasticity, and cycles of growth.

Mel studied the intersections of SDE, poetry, and the history of American education NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. They live in Brooklyn, New York.

Offering: Tarot Card Readings Mel is offering free tarot card readings and will talk to participants about how tarot can be used as a tool for healing.

play:groundNYC is a non-profit organization advocating for young people’s rights by providing playworker-run environments that encourage risk-taking, experimentation and freedom through self directed play. play:groundNYC operates a 50,000 square foot adventure playground on Governors Island, and works with communities to establish their own neighborhood playgrounds and play initiatives.

Robert H. HaworthRobert H. Haworth is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Foundations & Policy Studies at West Chester University, Pennsylvania. He teaches courses focusing on the social foundations of education and critical action research. He has published and presented internationally on anarchism, youth culture, informal learning spaces, and critical social studies education. Haworth is the editor of Anarchist Pedagogies: Collective Actions, Theories, and Critical Reflections on Education and the co-editor of Out of the Ruins: The Emergence of Radical Informal Learning Spaces. He is also the co-editor (with Mark Bray) of the new reader entitled, Anarchist Education and the Modern School: A Francisco Ferrer Reader also published by PM Press. Additionally, you can hear Haworth’s music through his band Second Letter that is released through Lowatt Recordings.

The Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement is a political movement dedicated to freeing people from bondage and building resistance in the United States. We situate our political movement in the context of the abolitionist struggle against slavery and continue in the tradition, from Nat Turner to the Black Liberation Movement. We believe the Civil War was never resolved and the system of slavery transitioned into the prison industrial complex. Our struggle today must begin from this starting point. Lastly, as revolutionary anarchists, the abolitionist struggle must be extended to the state and capitalism, the perpetrators of oppression. The revolutionary movement in the US today is at a cross roads, as fascist movements are expanding, and the state becomes increasingly authoritarian. The Rojava Revolution, in northern Syria, provides us with an inspiration for revolution today with its foundation in communal and council based political organization and militant defense.

Offering: Revolutionary Abolitionist Education, RAM believes in respecting all learners, and uses an approach to education that is both inclusive and participatory. We actively seek learning materials from a wide variety of authors, filmmakers and other sources; and we spread information through a plethora of mediums (readings, discussion, film screenings, etc.). Our commitments to abolition, anti-capitalism, and anti-oppression inform our approach at all stages. We reject the false hierarchies that persist in traditional education models, in which information is exchanged in one direction and a single, predetermined method is expected to benefit learners of varying interests and abilities. Finally, we believe that all of life is a learning process; therefore, learning should not merely be scheduled at specific times or take place at specific locations, but should be incorporated into the way we relate to one another as humans on a daily basis. The ultimate goal of any educational program should be to revolutionize all of society.

Smiling Hogshead Ranch (SHHR) is an urban farm collective whose mission is to create a culture that empowers and connects our communities through ecology, education and collaboration. Founded as a guerrilla garden in LIC, Queens in 2011, SHHR uses urban agriculture as a community organizing tool offering hands-on education and raising awareness about social, economic, and environmental issues. We grow vegetable crops, raise bees, encourage mycelial networks, and tend fruit, nut, and berry trees, and shrubs on reclaimed land. SHHR also practices environmental remediation, both directly, through the use of fungi and microorganisms, and indirectly, by serving as an example to New Yorkers of the positive impact that a small community acting with intent can have on the environment. We are now a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit org with a Garden License Agreement to steward the MTA property we occupy.

Theatre of the Oppressed NYC partners with community members at local organizations to form theatre troupes. These troupes devise and perform plays based on their challenges confronting economic inequality, racism, and other social, health and human rights injustices. After each performance, actors and audiences engage in theatrical brainstorming – called Forum Theatre – with the aim of catalyzing creative change on the individual, community, and political levels!

Offering: Introduction to Theatre of the Oppressed, Play essential games from the arsenal of Theatre of the Oppressed and participate in a forum theatre demonstration. Connect the tool of Theatre of the Oppressed to human rights and oppression as it affects your community through dialogue and brainstorming.

Sundiata Soon-JahtaSundiata Soon-Jahta, I’m an independent educator and a social sustainability activist. I’m the creator of The GROW Model Network, which is a network of SDE Cooperative Unbusinesses, and host of the Theory of Indivisibility podcast which is a show that explores the evolutionary origins, current complexities, and how my Theory of Indivisibility applies to our social, economic, & political systems.

Offering: How To Start A Tuition-Free ALC/SDE Cooperative Unbusiness, This talk is for individuals who’ve thought about starting a SDE learning community in support of their child(ren) but aren’t interested in the hassles or risks of starting a business. It’s also for people who want to create a program that is accessible to young people and families no matter their socio-economic status.

Tara Collins Tara Collins, 14, I am a queer, mixed POC, ethical vegan, young person, activist, writer, mixed media artist, vocalist and musician, social media creator, self directed learner, intellectual and weirdo. My current pursuits have a focus on songwriting, music production, music theory, prose and traditional poetry writing, film and music video design, project management in the arts, and non traditionally academic research skills as a form of self empowerment for youth.

My soul is in writing and music with storytelling through all mediums at the core, though I see myself developing skills in many fields throughout my life in the pursuit of self expression.

My Instagram: @taratheavatar

Offering: Open Discussion – Self directed education as a place to work out the kinks, a test drive, for a contemporary progressive’s utopia, Many self directed learning environments have the unique ability to allow participants true free speech, and free actions (within reason). When/can this yield to people taking advantage of freedom, or seeking out rule free environments throughout life to do things that would otherwise be unacceptable or unusually offensive? How do we prevent the self directed learning model from becoming a breeding ground for extreme beliefs that couldn’t be entertained elsewhere? How do we deal with racist/sexist/homophobic behavior without setting unfair or oppressive rules?

How do we keep people from being in a prejudiced ideological “bubble” of their own creation without militantly forcing them into exposure opportunities? How do facilitators highly committed to being lenient come to the realization that they need to exercise authority and it is no longer a young person’s responsibility to fend for themselves? Is it forcing an agenda on a group to set rules that align with what is problematic to the world outside of the group, so as to not lose connection to what the greater society sees as unacceptable?

I see this as an examination of sorts, to find solutions to potential problems with the self directed model and to make peace with the concept of rules, and rethink their function outside of institutions designed to make them inherently oppressive. This may also function as an examination of group dynamics in general.

Tatiana Smith is a single, Black homeschooling mom of 1, living in Jersey City. She has homeschooled her daughter since Kindergarten. Tatiana ran her own Northern New Jersey co-op, PLAY Jersey City in 2015 and helped found Amber Colibri Center in Montclair. She is a strong supporter of homeschooling/unschooling/worldschooling and seeks to help other people of color navigate the best learning environment for their families.

Offering: Single, Black and Homeshooling With so much discussion about the intricacies of unschooling and homeschooling, there is not as much discussion around developing, maintaining and supporting alternative modes of education for single parents. This is especially true for people of color who must not only navigate their way out of the public school system, but must figure out unique solutions for money, childcare, court systems and overall sanity. This talk will discuss some of these pain points and identify ways of thriving as a single parent home educator.

 

We have closed preregistration of workshop proposals.
However, interested participants can still make offerings on the day of the unconference. If you have questions, please contact us.

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Unconference Organizers

Abigail OultonAbigail Oulton serves as co-director of the New York City Agile Learning Center (ALC-NYC). The flagship school of a growing network, ALC-NYC serves a community of young people who practice self-direction and intentional culture creation. During school hours Abby often shares books, field trips, art projects, and her enthusiasm for life science. She also works increasingly with adults, collaborating with and providing support for those new to facilitating in learner-driven environments.

Abby graduated from New York University’s Gallatin School for Individualized Study in 2013 after focusing her coursework around education and sociology. She facilitated at ALC-NYC for three years before becoming a director, and she looks forward to finding ways to provide more young people access to education focused on their empowerment and holistic growth.

Alexander KhostAlexander Khost is a father and children’s rights advocate. He volunteers running Friends of the Modern School, supporting the history and maintaining current models of anarchistic education. He works with young people at the homeschooling coop, Brooklyn Apple Academy; he is the Editor-in-Chief of the Alliance for Self-Directed Education’s online magazine, Tipping Points; and he is the founder of Voice of the Children, promoting and facilitating art and activism for young people.

He previously founded the Teddy McArdle Free School, a democratic free school in New Jersey, and more recently co-founded play:groundNYC, a junkyard playground for children on Governors Island in New York City.