The Homeschool + Conference 2013

Steve Hargadon and myself (Pat Farenga) teamed up to create the first free, online, global homeschooling conference on August 24 to 26, 2013. We pulled it together in less than six weeks and had presenters from the UK, Romania, Spain, Canada, India, Switzerland, and the United States who addressed over 1600 members during the two-day event. All the sessions were recorded and are available for viewing and/or listening at 2013 Conference Recordings.

Steve and I seeded the speaker's list with keynotes and distinguished speakers who we knew would help give the event momentum, but the main point for us was to see what happens when homeschoolers get to use a technological platform reserved for university-level courses (Blackboard Collaborate) to co-create a nonsectarian homeschooling event. The results speak for themselves, as the variety of approaches and beliefs encompassed by the conference strands demonstrates.

I posted these recordings of the keynotes and distinguished speakers to YouTube and gathered them on this page to give you a flavor for this unique event. You can see and listen to the entire list of conference recordings at the Homeschool Conference Recordings page.

DECEMBER 16, 2013: Steve and I have decided to put off the second conference until later in 2014, instead of doing it in January. We will announce the new dates once we know them.

Homeschool Conference 2013 Keynote Recordings

The Legacy of John Holt by Pat Farenga

Pat is the conference co-chair and presents the opening keynote address for the Homeschool Conference 2013. Pat Farenga and his wife have three daughters who were homeschooled, ages 27, 23, and 21. In addition to publishing and writing for Growing Without Schooling magazine for twenty years, he has written many articles and book chapters about unschooling, homeschooling, and John Holt. Pat talks about his new book, co-edited with Carlo Ricci, The Legacy of John Holt: A Man Who Genuinely Understood, Trusted, and Respected Children.

Free to Learn by Dr. Peter Gray

Peter Gray, research professor of psychology at Boston College, has conducted and published research in a wide range of fields, including neuroendocrinology, animal behavior, developmental psychology, anthropology, and education. He is author of a highly regarded college textbook, Psychology (Worth Publishers), now in its 6th edition. His latest book is Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life.

Learning Disabled or Learns Differently? by Cindy Gaddis

Cindy Gaddis is a 20-year home education veteran and mother of seven right-brained children, ages 12-26. She's married to her high school sweetheart, and their family lives in a log house on 15 acres in beautiful central North Carolina. Cindy's latest work includes the book The Right Side of Normal, and the websites and

The Average Giraffe Sleeps 4.6 Hours a Day by David Albert

Board Chairman Friendly Water for the World David H. Albert is a husband, father, writer, and storyteller. He is the author of five books on homeschooling and alternative education including Dismantling the Inner School: Homeschooling and the Curriculum of Abundance (Hunt Press, 2012); What Really Matters (with Joyce Reed, The Alternate Press, 2010).

Unschooling Rules by Clark Aldrich

Founder and Managing Partner Clark Aldrich Designs, Clark Aldrich is one of the top educational simulation and interface designers in the world. As well as being the founder and managing partner of Clark Aldrich Designs, Aldrich is a global education visionary, industry analyst, and speaker who serves on boards of universities, of companies, and in the intelligence community (where he has Top Secret clearance). His latest book is Unschooling Rules: 55 Ways to Unlearn What We Know About Schools and Rediscover Education.

The Global Movement for Learner-Centered Alternatives by Jerry Mintz

Director of the Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO), Jerry Mintz has been a leading voice in the alternative school movement for over 30 years. In addition to his seventeen years as a public school teacher and a public and independent alternative school principal, he has also founded several alternative schools and organizations and has lectured and consulted around the world.

The Home Schooling Movement as a Political, Economic, and Social Force for Change. How Homeschooling Can Save Our Country by Yale Wishnick

Co-founder Southwest Institute for Violence Free Learning (SWIVL), Yale Steven (Y.S.) Wishnick has over 30 years of experience with public and private organizations around the country. His experiences include policy development, labor relations, Preschool through higher education, personnel matters, strategic planning, and individual and organizational goal setting and coaching. His latest book is From a Culture of Dependency to a Culture of Success - Focusing on What’s Right About American and the American people.

How to Increase Student Engagement Focusing on Student Expectations by Elliot Washor

Elliot Washor, Ed.D. is the co-founder and co-director of The Big Picture Company in Providence, Rhode Island. He is also the co-founder of The Met Center in Providence, RI. Elliot has been involved in school reform for more than 35 years as a teacher, principal, administrator, superintendent, video producer, writer, and speaker. His latest book is Leaving To Learn: How to Increase Student Engagement and Reduce the Dropout Rate.

Homeschool Conference 2013 Distinguished Speaker Recordings

Home Education in England and Wales by Leslie Barson

Leslie is associated with the homeschooling organization The Otherwise Club. She writes: "In this talk I will give a brief historical overview of Home Education in England and Wales, the legal situation, outline of a central government attack on the right to home educate in 2009 and what changes this and other political and economic pressures have made. There will be time for questions."


SelfDesign: Unfolding Our Infinite Wisdom Within by Monica Cochran

Monica Cochran writes: "I've been involved in alternative education since 1978 as a Montessori Directress and served on the boards of the alternative schools my children attended. Currently, I'm working at SelfDesign as the Director of Global Learning Programs and as an administrator in the Special Ed Program."

Humor and Lightness in the Face of Struggle by Meredith Collins.

From Meredith Collins' blog, Each One Thrives:  "When I'm not posting here, I'm usually at work on a book about shifting the educational paradigm to allow kids' lives to be shaped by individual potential and capacity (rather than only by the priorities of traditional academic ideology)."

The Willed Curriculum: A Learner-Centered Democratic Worldview by Carlo Ricci

Carlo Ricci earned his PhD in 2003 from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Educ ation of the University of Toronto. Currently he teaches in the Graduate Program at the Schulich School of Education, Nipissing University. He edits and founded the Journal of Unschooling and Alternative Learning. Carlo is the author of The Willed Curriculum, Unschooling, and Self-Direction.

Homeschooling UK Comparisons of 4 to 5 Year Olds In and Out of School by Dr. Paula Rothermel

Dr. Rothermel's presentation reports on the performance of reception-aged, home-educated children. Media reports tend to focus on older home-educated children withdrawing from school but very little is known about younger children many of whom have never been to school in the UK. This research sought insight into the learning experience of these young children. The study involved 35 home-educated children aged between four and five years of age, from diverse socio-economic backgrounds. The children were assessed using the Performance Indicators in Primary Schools (Start and End of Reception) and their results compared with schooled peers. It was found that the reported leap in learning generally associated with early schooling is present in the homeschooled sample and further, that the homeschooled group outperformed their schooled counterparts, indicating perhaps, that by initiating ever earlier school starting ages we are unwittingly inhibiting children's cognitive focus and potential. 

Self-Directed Learning and The Roots of Success by Jamie McMillan

Jamie writes: "I homeschooled my three children through high school. Author of "Legendary Learning: The Famous Homeschoolers' Guide to Self-Directed Excellence," and co-developer of OLLY - The Organized Life and Learning Yearbook, a Mac and iOS based planning app for homeschooling families."

Unschooling, Distance Schools, and How to Use Teaching Materials by Sorina Oprean (for a Romanian audience).

NOTE: This presentation is delivered in Romanian, not English. White Pedagogy is a movement based on respecting the childrens' talents and academic interests. There is no coercion, nothing is based on fear or obligation.