speakers 2018

Our keynote speakers 2018 are truly magical this year! We feel very honored and blessed to be hosting Nick Hess, The Unschool Dad, and Teresa Graham Brett of Parenting for Social Change! Please join us in welcoming them and our many other wonderful discussion group hosts, breakout session hosts, and funshop hosts for an awe-inspiring 2018 family event!

Nick Hess,  a.k.a. on Facebook as The Unschool Dad,(Instagram @theunschooldad) lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife Rosy and their 5 always unschooled children, ages 17, 14, 11, 9 and 6.
Self-directed learning seemed natural to Nick ever since he was a child himself, so when he and his wife learned about unschooling while considering education choices for their two eldest daughters when they were little, it seemed like the perfect fit for their children.  The Hess family has been on this wonderful journey ever since!
In addition to unschooling, Nick’s other passions are entrepreneurship, traveling, cooking.

Teresa Graham Brett shares her life with partner Rob and two young people, Martel and Greyson. She started ParentingforSocialChange.com as part of her own journey to unlearning the beliefs prevalent in our society that adults have the right to control and dominate children merely because of their status as children. Taking her social justice education work in Universities, she began to understand, write about, and develop programs that address how adult control and power over children and youth set the foundation for other forms of oppression to continue.
Teresa’s mission is to work with other parents and individuals to do inner work as a foundation for outer action that ultimately liberates individuals, groups and communities. She also works as Associate Dean of Students for Inclusion at the University of Arizona. Teresa writes for various publications and serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors of Families for Conscious Living. Along with Dieudonne Allo, she co-founded Alliance for Parenting Education in Africa and has developed curriculum and workshops for parenting circles (Iziko) in South Africa.  

Joe, Tara, Liam and Atticus Dutcher are thrilled to be returning for a third time to the Unschoolers Platform conference. At the 2017 conference, Tara and Joe presented a talk entitled Attunement; Unschooling and Autism which kicked off a wonderful discussion among community members about the unique joys and challenges of meeting every child’s individual interests and needs. 


At the 2018 conference, the Dutchers hope to facilitate a round table-style conversation that touches upon the physical, emotional and communication elements that emerge when families composed of individuals with a variety of different needs are invested in living in attunement with each other.

The Dutchers live in eastern Iowa where Tara works as a freelance musician (www.taramcgovern.com) and Joe works as a corporate trainer. 


Laura Lauzen-Collins lives in Bolingbrook Illinois with her husband and five children, aged 19, 14, 11, 9 and 6. When her first child was born during graduate school for psychology, she knew that she wanted him to learn in a self-directed manner but she was unaware of the unschooling movement at that time. As her son got older and Laura began teaching more developmentally-based psychology courses as well as delving more into educational theory, she had a growing belief that the traditional approach to education was not consistent with how she understood learning to occur and that it tended to squash natural curiosity and motivation. After a few years of struggling through the traditional school system with her son, she discovered the well-established unschooling movement.  This approach provided and continues to provide a solution for the problems that she saw as endemic to the more traditional approach to education and also provided a personal solution for her family.

Laura continues to teach psychology classes at Moraine Valley Community College and DePaul University while striving to provide support for her children’s natural sense of curiosity and wonder. She teaches classes on a wide variety of psychological topics with a focus on the brain and development.

In the last 10-20 years, we have learned an enormous amount about the way the brain develops in infancy, through childhood and into adulthood. The child’s brain is not just less mature than the adult’s brain. Instead the brain of a child is qualitatively different than that of an adult. And beyond the child’s brain, the teen’s brain brings a new set of profound changes. Understanding these differences can be a powerful tool that helps us to better understand how our children and teens experience the world.

Teri DeMarco is an unschooling mom raising 3 kids; Wyatt (11), Cole (11) and Emily
(9) with her husband living an unconventional life outside Boston, MA.Teri & Edwin began their unschooling journey when they realized that one of the best school districts in MA was not serving their sons well. The thought that their kids would lose their love of learning so early on in their education career was a sobering reality. Fresh out of a New England based unschooling conference, they made the decision to un-enroll two of their children from 1 st grade and follow a different path. That one decision changed their lives forever and their whole family has blossomed in their unschooling life.
Teri speaks publicly about her family’s deschooling process, their experiences along
the road, and the choices they’ve made to best support everyone in the family. Now,
nearly 5 years into the Unschooling Flow, she talks about the wonderful cascading
benefits this life has presented to her family and in her own personal life.
Screen Time!
There are few topics among parents that incite passionate debate like kids and their
use of screens (computers, video games and television). In the general population,
there are many ways parents lament technology and impart controls on its use.
Unschoolers recognize the depth of learning that can be realized from these
wonderful tools and seek to find a way to support their use. However, even we
more enlightened parents are not immune to the pervasive fears around technology
and its unlimited use by our children. On any given day, articles predicting the
negative affects of technology on children are not hard to find. Parents fear
predators, scams, viruses, lack of exercise, and any myriad of bad outcomes that
could happen when exposing our kids to the “online” world.
In this session we’ll discuss some common fears about technology and its unlimited
use. We’ll talk about dealing with the affects of children who are exposed to the
whole gamut of social memes and YouTubers and, most importantly, the very
amazing upside that technology, games and the Internet present to our unschooling
Teri’s family began unschooling in 2013 after an unsuccessful attempt at K and 1 st
grade at public school (in a “great district”) in Massachusetts. Once out of school,
her twin 6 yr old sons’ main interest was in their newly acquired laptop computers,
playing Minecraft for 14 to 16 hours a day/night. There is nothing like initiation-
by-fire to face ones fears and concerns about technology when you realize you have
raised two ultimate gamers. Teri will not only discuss technology in the unschooling
family in general, she’ll share her family’s personal story, how she and her husband
worked through their own fears and those of their extended family. How they
ultimately supported their kids’ interests and embraced the journey their sons’
embarked three years ago and the life learning they, the parents, acquired along the
way. As with all these sessions, come prepared to share… Addressing our fears and
concerns around technology should be an active process and it requires sounding
boards and hearing alternate views to process through. It will certainly be a fun and
interesting discussion.
Jody grew up in Alberta, Canada, and has lived in various Canadian cities – but recently moved to  Flossmoor, Illinois with her husband David, and their 3 children; Nathan (13), Kaneya (11), and Geneva (7).
Jody came to learn about unschooling when her children were not yet school age, and the concepts of trust and giving space for people to learn things at their own pace, resonated with her heart.  And so, their journey to unschooling began.
In the almost 10 years since then, she has learned a great deal about how learning happens, and how vital joy and connection are in the process.
Let’s talk about play!  The whimsical, swirling, fullof wonder and awe, fun, mystical, flowing, joyful learning.  Let’s talk about the connection and soul filling happiness that results from play.  Let’s talk about the messy and challenging moments and how we can facilitate ways to have everyone’s needs met.
I want to share with you what play looks like in my family and inspire you to think about the play that happens in your home.  Let’s share ideas and games that sparked wonderful moments for ourselves as individuals and the individuals that make up our family.  Let’s share how those moments led to greater connection and understanding of each other.
I want to talk about the importance of honouring our our own hearts when it comes to playing with and supporting our individual children. Let’s talk about solutions for those moments when our individual needs are not in line with our children’s desires.
Let’s inspire each other to find more joy and more ways to connect through play.  How do you and your family play?
If you have yet to hear her podcast, you can check that out at: http://livingjoyfully.ca/blog/2016/05/eu019-playing-with-our-children-with-jody-lilley/
Jennie lives in Dearborn Heights, Michigan with her two always unschooled children, Jeremy (13) and Daniel (11). Jennie is a solo parent having survived the death of her husband, the boys’ father, several years ago.
Immediately following his death, she was even more convinced of the many benefits to living a life of partnership with her children. It provided immense support in their healing, growing, and the learning process of grieving while continuing to flourish through this traumatic life-altering event.
Jennie’s boys were assigned female at birth (AFAB). Over the last couple of years, the family has learned about gender dysphoria. The boy’s father was also gender non-conforming and bisexual.
Jennie has done much learning, accepting and growing in the years since her husband shared with her his “secret”. At the conferences she has attended she shows up at the LGBTQIA sessions to be a voice for the people who remain silent — to share that people not conforming to their assigned gender is not a new thing — it just may be that people feel safer now in being who they are.
Please join Jennie this year at the UNschoolers Platform to discuss and learn about gender non-conforming and the many ways she has come to support, create and celebrate humans as they are!!!


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