Back from Northeast Unschooling Conference 2009

I just got back from the Northeast Unschooling Conference this past weekend and I had a blast! There were a couple things I didn’t like during the conference but looking back now I’m just really happy about all the things I did enjoy.

The first day, as I already blogged about there were few people for my travel presentation but I had fun later hanging, eating, and playing frisbee.

The next day I put my Worldschool Stories out at the Untrepreneurial Fair and for a few hours wondered if I had made a terrible mistake: my only sales were from a couple friends; maybe no one was actually interested in buying this thing! But soon during the lunch break more people were wandering around and a handful of people bought the books that day and every other day of the conference.

I also got some great tips on how to produce a real professional, bound book. So I’m looking into that. And I’ve already heard from some people about how much they are enjoying reading it. I also hear from people, as I have before, that my writing improves and I get more mature as each newsletter goes on! But I think they said those early ones are still entertaining!

If anyone wants to have their own copy let me know: happy to send it to you!

Anyway, enough about me and my books!

I didn’t make it to many workshops but I really enjoyed Michael’s session on “Everything about GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender)”, the discussion “Even more different”, and the speech on the last day by Dayna Martin “Renegade Parenting” (which despite the title had a very gentle and wise message of being an understanding parent with unschooling: concentrating on the underlying needs rather than the behavior AND using this principle to be kinder and build bridges with OTHER people).

As far as “Even More Different” I feel like I’ve said enough on this subject! As far as the need to be more welcoming to people who appear different in the unschooling community.

What was new for me was realizing how unaccepted MOST unschoolers and unschooling parents (of all races, sexual orientations, etc.) feel in society as a whole. Many people talked about needing to sometimes hide the fact that they unschool from people; how when they did they’d find some people at work would avoid talking to them for months!

For these people unschooling conferences are a haven where they can relax and be surrounded people who understand and appreciate their life choices.

The point to the discussion was many people who appear to be different in other ways have not felt like they are welcomed and can relax in this haven others enjoy. Again, I think I’ve said said enough about this for now, but I continue to think about it and wish there was more diversity at this and other conferences, though there was definitely some.

I really enjoyed discussing “Untraditional Adult Paths” on Saturday and there was a good crowd. I liked how Idzie shared her desire to make money doing something she loves and actually helped the world. And how when she wrote about that in a blog post people responded with all sorts of helpful comments that gave her new ideas and inspiration.

I’m so glad there were also other adults at our discussion who shared their own stories of entrepreneurship and how they hadn’t needed college or it hadn’t helped them at all.

I know there are many people who have loved college and it has helped them get a job they love. But there are innumerable other paths out there and people need to know many lead to a lot of joy, meaning, wealth, and a real experience and understanding of the world.

And I know many of todays leaders in all areas of life learned what they know not from college but from following their own paths. I think that may happen even more in a future where we may be able to rely on our institutions even less.

That was about as serious as a I got during the whole conference!

On Saturday there was a performance by an awesome band of grown unschooler brothers and sisters from Rhode Island called, “Fishing With Finnegan“. They do Irish, Scottish, English, and American Folk (and random rainbow and erotic mermaid themed tunes).

Oddly, I relaxed and had the most fun after the conference was officially over on Sunday. I enjoyed playing bananagrams and hanging with people. At the picnic on Monday I had fun playing ultimate Frisbee.

I must say a highlight of the whole conference was at the picnic when two young boys, each named Jesse, interviewed me about my travels! One of them is really interested in geography and is learning Hindi. The other seemed to have a passion for Gene-Shalit-like pun based humor while he asked questions and operated the camera!

I hope they post it online and I can link to it or something!

But the best part was hanging out with and talking with some cool people, joking around and discussing all sorts of things. I met some people who were just starting unschooling and some people just new to conference.

I’ll probably write more  about the whole experience but that’s it for now!

It’s beautiful outside here in Lexington, MA. Hope you’re all enjoying yourself wherever you are!

P.S. Here’s a great video of photos from the conference by Joe Martin (Dayna Martin’s husband): Northeast Unschooling Conference 2009

10 Responses to “Back from Northeast Unschooling Conference 2009”

  1. cris says:

    we didn’t spend much time together, but I loved seeing you there, and feeling the sweet happy vibrations coming off you was a delightful difference from the uber-serious eli of my past experiences.
    I hope you can link up the finnegans with this post!

  2. Eli Gerzon says:

    Thanks Cris! Same here: didn’t talk much but appreciated your presence. Also, had fun hanging with Quinn and Madeline: I treasure the rinky dink (sp?) ring I bought from her too! “My motto as I live and learn, is to dig and be dug in return.”

    Guess I came off as serious in the past: it does happen with me. I got my serious side and my goofball side. Glad my happy vibrations were coming through: so happy to be part of the unschooling scene!

  3. Bea says:


    I really wanted to go to your talk about untraditional adult paths but I was too busy with my kids. I also would have loved to chat with you about your travels, as I have traveled a lot myself. (I think my husband got to talk to you though – Tobias, from Germany.) I hope we’ll get to talk at another conference!

    • Eli Gerzon says:

      Hi Bea, I just responded to your friend request on Facebook! Yes, your husband and your adorable baby seemed to be all over the place and I enjoyed talking with him (I lived in Germany awhile myself). Sorry you couldn’t make it to the session but I’m sure we’ll get another chance to chat at another conference! Where have you travelled yourself?

  4. Bea says:

    I’m not much of a backpacker, but I have lived in a few places, mostly because I love studying languages. I grew up in France and Tahiti, and have lived in the US, China, Hong Kong, Argentina, Belgium and Montreal. I have traveled to New Zealand and (briefly) Australia, Bali and Singapore, and a bunch of countries in Europe. Unfortunately I went to school and college, otherwise I might have traveled more 😉

  5. Julie says:

    Hi Eli,

    I was also hoping to get to your talk on Sat about untraditional adult paths and missed it due to a search for apples, ha. I wanted to let you know how much I love your blog, you have a very accessible writing style and I love the topics, as well.

    perhaps I will see you at another conference at some point,

    p.s. I am mom to one of the Jesse’s who interviewed you 🙂 I will let Madeline Rains know you want to see a clip of your interview and she might be able to send you a link or a file.

    p.p. s. you might get a kick out of these pirate hat photos I took at the conference:

  6. Idzie says:

    ‘Twas awesome hanging out, and doing the discussion, with you!

    I just started reading your earlier booklet, and although I read Whole Soul Safety awhile ago, I really found it resonated with me now particularly. I have a good friend who’s currently in school, and pretty much on the verge of breaking down, and all I want to do is get him out of there to keep him safe! Good stuff…


  7. Eli Gerzon says:

    @Bea Wow, maybe you would have been more places without college but you sure covered a lot! And I haven’t been to any of them except Bali I think! We could swap some good stories about our respective countries!

    @Julie Thanks so much for what you said about my blog: means a lot to know you’re reading and enjoying it! I’m sure we’ll see each other at another conference, but sorry you couldn’t make it to the untraditional paths workshop this time.

    And your son is awesome! He asked some good questions and kept it interesting with his jokes too! And those pirate photos are awesome: seems like you got everyone: how’d I miss that?? As far as the link: that def be cool but of course no pressure.

    @Idzie Ya, was great hanging out with you and your family at the conference! So glad to hear you’re reading the packet (I know it’s not a real book…!) and even rereading some things. I’m curious how it’s different reading it like that.

    But anyway, it really can be hard to see people suffer in a way that seems totally unnecessary. In the end everyone does have to do their own thing… and some people are not ready for certain steps and freedom.

    Still, I’ve also been surprised to hear about a few people I know who started college and are now close to or have already decided to leave. The girl I talk about stuck with high school the whole way through but some do change and choose to go down their own path.

    No doubt it can be scary! But it’s awesome how many people are out doing the same thing and giving support.

  8. Cheryl says:

    Every conference brings regrets about which presentations or discussions I *didn’t* make it to! I think you went to most of the ones I didn’t, and just about the only time I saw you was at your own talk. I wish I had made it to “Even More Different.” I didn’t get to see Dayna speak, either, but she taped herself and I’m hoping she posts it online. We got to the picnic two hours late on Sunday, and I ended up gathering sea shells, far away from everyone else. I need at least two of me at every conference!

  9. melissa says:

    Who are you!? (Hahahaha)
    Explanation: I’m more than randomly stumbling upond your site.

    I am Melissa 23yrs old. I left school at the end of 10th grade. Currently I’m married with two boys Maxwell and Mason! Four years old and almost two this August!

    Recently I’ve been really building an ultimate library for our boys (over 400 books later, thanks to our local thrift store! 69¢ a book!) Which oddly enough evovled into me really focusing on many things, as in “how long will it take for my sons to start to hate school? Will school burn out that flame that they have for natural learning because of its unnecessary requirements!?”

    Nonetheless I’m 23 and stumped for what is the right choice!?

    By the way: Maxwell has been teaching himself the following, reading, paleontology (which is what he wants to be!) Measurements, how bee’s work! The parts of a flower! And much more! It amazes me everyday!

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