Previous Conferences

For details and recordings of previous conferences check below:

Irish Unschooling Conference 2015

Prof. Peter Gray – (2015 Talk Part 1 , Part 2)

Peter Gray is interested in the deficit of play in our modern society.  He is an evolutionary psychologist and is a Research Fellow at Boston College.  His past research concerns basic mammalian motivation and his present research has to do with the nature of play and it’s educative value.  He has written the book Free to Learn in which he argues that in order to foster children who will thrive in today’s constantly changing world, we must entrust them to steer their own learning and development. You can see his Tedx talk here.

Dr. Paula Rothermel – (2015 talk)

Paula Rothermel has carried out extensive research in the area of Home education.  Her doctoral thesis involved 1099 children and is the largest study into home education in the UK.  The study looked at reasons for home education, parental background, outcomes for the children and socialisation. Dr. Rothermel will travel from Switzerland, where she now lives with her family, for the conference.  Her new book ‘International Perspectives in Home Education: Do we still need schools?‘, includes essays from Sugata Mitra (author of Hole in the Wall), Dr. Alan Thomas and Dr. Harriet Patterson.

Matthew O’Toole (2015 talk)

Matthew is from a family of ten and he, like his siblings, was home/unschooled until he was twelve years old.  He spoke about his experience in secondary school and university, from both a social and an academic perspective.

Val Davin

Val is living in Cork and is mother to two children.  She removed her son who has special needs, including autism, from school a number of years ago and would like to help other parents by imparting all she has learnt

Jane Klebaur Donegan

Jane is mother to six children and grandmother to five children and lives in Donegal.  She has been a La Leche Leader for 31 years and is a regional contact for the Home Education Network and the Home Birth Association Ireland.  Jane is a very well-respected member of the Home Education community having accompanied all of her children on their home education journeys.

Hollie McNish and Erin Fornoff

Hollie and Erin very generously gave up their time to perform some of their poetry for the teenagers in 2015.

Micheal Reilly

Micheal is involved with 091 Labs, Galway’s makerspace and spoke to the teenagers about this and his own business The Educated Machine.

Andrew and Eilís Barrett spoke about their passions and the time that they could devote to these through not being at school.


Irish Unschooling Conference 2014

Dr. Alan Thomas

Alan gave us a fascinating account of the considerable body of research that he has carried out into home educating and spoke about his understanding of a ‘cultural curriculum’ through which children learn everything, including how to read.

Mary Brady

Mary reflected on her experience of being unschooled and what this means for her as she parents her own child.

Maria Berkstam

We welcomed Maria from Sweden.  As a family they travelled extensively while home educating.  She gave an engaging talk about her experiences and also an insight into the situation of home education in Sweden.

Pippa Black

Pippa was the chairperson of Home Education Ireland.  She spoke about her own experiences of home educating her four children and gave a detailed description of how to apply to home educate in Ireland.

Cindy Dring

Cindy Dring spoke about access to third level for home educated teenagers and young people and we are very grateful for the time she gave to this important topic.

Saffron Lily also spoke in a most engaging manner about her interests.