2013 Conference

Plenary Descriptions


Jane Elliott

(Thanks to modern technology Jane will be joining us electronically for this interactive presentation.)


Power, Perception and Prejudice

Students face numerous social challenges in their young lives which may have dramatic effects on their success in learning and in life.

The most devastating of these challenges is prejudice, including racism. One of its effects is to generate low expectations for those who are targeted. Many students believe the message they are given and as a result their chances for success are minimized.

To set the stage for successful learning for all students, we must educate ourselves and our children about the true nature of prejudice as well as how to take steps to eliminate it from our schools.

“Prejudice is an Emotional Commitment to Ignorance”

Jane Elliott will teach us how our society systemically discriminates against groups of people based on arbitrary factors over which they have no control.

She will help us recognize, identify, and appreciate the differences on which power is assigned, and some of the ways in which we are conditioned to develop some of our perceptions.

We will learn that ignorance is the foundation upon which racism is built.

We will examine simple statements that we make every day that reinforce systemic prejudice in our society. Jane is a powerful speaker who is relentless in her efforts to expose the realities of prejudice and bigotry.

Dr. Gabor Maté


Peer Orientation: Why Children Are Stressed, Why Parents and Teachers Are Disempowered and How To Restore a Healthy Balance in Adult-Child Relationships

Parenting and teaching are much harder these days than they used to be, and than they should be. In Hold On To Your Kids, Dr. Gabor Maté (with developmental psycholgist Gordon Neufeld) forward a provocative and important view of why this is, and what we can do to counteract it.

The root of the problem is that children no longer look to adults for emotional support, the teaching of values, or the modeling of behavior. Peer orientation refers to the tendency of children and youth to look to their peers for direction: for their sense of right and wrong, codes of conduct, and their very identity. Peer orientation undermines family cohesion, sabotages healthy development and fosters an aggressive and prematurely sexualized youth culture. For parents already challenged by the demands of our multitasking world and stretched by stark economic realities, peer orientation further complicates the task of child rearing.

Children were never meant by nature to be in a position where they are so dominant in influencing one another. This state of affairs may be the norm today, but it’s neither natural nor healthy. Historically it is a very new development, due to economic and social influences prevalent since World War II, resulting in a deep undermining of adult-child connections.

This talk aims at restoring parenting to its natural intuitive basis and the adult-child relationship to its rightful preeminence. The concepts, principles and practical advice articulated will empower parents, teachers and other adults who play a nurturing role to be for children what nature intended: the true source of contact, security and warmth. Parents must regain their natural authority, without coercion, punishment and artificial consequences. Children need to be protected from becoming lost in the emotionally barren and culturally backward world of peer orientation.

Topics covered:

  1. The basis of healthy child development: the attachment relationship with parents, teachers and other adults;
  2. Why the traditional relationship has become undermined, leaving parents and teachers frustrated and children alienated and immature;
  3. What peer orientation is and how it competes with children’s adult attachments; how to recognize its signs;
  4. How peer orientation leads to boredom, aggression, bullying, precocious sexuality, drug use, developmental problems and “unteachability;”
  5. How to restore the healthy adult orientation of our children, including methods of discipline that do not alienate children but bring them closer