Table of contents
- Upcoming Events
- Regional News
- EUDEC News
- Highlight on Schools
- Books and Magazines
EUDEC 2012, Freiburg, Germany
The next EUDEC conference will take place from 28 July to 5th August 2012 in Freiburg, Germany.
EUDEC 2012 will be a conference for democratic schools and educational projects, students, teachers and academics, as well as anyone committed to the democratisation of schooling and education in Europe.
The conference will offer European democratic schools the opportunity to share and exchange information about their work and continue to build the network for democratic education. At the same time, this forum shall give members of the general public, as well as researchers and political decision-makers, the opportunity to learn more about the current state of the democratisation process and contribute their ideas and experience to this movement.
EUDEC 2012 is being organised by the Kapriole http://www.kapriole-freiburg.de, a democratic school in Freiburg/Germany. The organising committee includes a large number of school students. Many of the organising group have been to several former EUDEC and/or IDEC conferences and we (the organisers) are doing our best to apply that knowledge and experience to preparing “the best EUDEC ever” for you.
The conference will be divided into an "internal" open space session and a public session with more set lectures, workshops and presentations. In the internal session, representatives from democratic schools and educational projects, as well as university students, academics and researchers, will come together to present, discuss and evaluate their work. The public session (on 3-4 August 2012) is open to anyone interested in the democratisation of schooling and education. The conference will also include a rich and varied cultural programme.
Register soon! Early-bird registration has been extended to 15 May.
For more information on the programme and registration:
Staff member, Kapriole|Kapriole
Council member, EUDEC
ngidion at eudec.org
Italian Network for Democratic Education - Open Meeting 26-27th May
As shown by a recent meeting near Bologna, the movement for democratic education in Italy is growing and picking up pace. Several school projects have recently started or are in the founding process. The next major REL (Italian Network for Democratic Education) meeting and conference will take place on 26 and 27 May 2012 in Rimini, Italy.
Co-author of Liberi di imparare
umbria at educazionelibertaria.org
New Democratic School opening in Germany - just North of Hamburg
INFINITA - Grenzenlos Lernen
After three years of work, it looks like the democratic school "Infinita" will open this year in August in Ahrensburg, a small town just north of Hamburg. Starting with just two people in 2008, our group soon grew to the 9 people we are now. Together we overcame a lot of problems along the way, not the least of which was getting state approval for the school. By the time this approval was granted, the opening date we had been aiming for (August 2011) was only one month away, so we had to postpone the opening for one year, as we had no chance of getting a building approved in that time.
We are all very excited about starting this August. Some parents plan on organizing a spring party, where all the kids can meet for the first time. If we manage to have the building ready to go before the opening date, we would like to also offer a week in the school (during the holidays) for all the students who are interested and plan exactly how we want to start together with them.
Member of Infinita start-up group
New EUDEC Diploma to be awarded to democratic school leavers this year!
At the EUDEC AGM last summer, it was voted that EUDEC will provide a diploma which member schools are able to offer to their school leavers. This came from a proposal from members of Kapriole, a democratic school in Freiburg. Kapriole has been offering a similar diploma to their students for the past two years and receiving positive feedback. The proposal was developed by workgroups during the AGM and is set to be awarded to students for the first time this academic year.
The objective of the EUDEC Diploma is to provide a 'paper qualification' evidencing the key skills and competencies developed through attending a democratic school. This is something which school leavers will be able to take with them into their futures and include with applications. It will be a meaningful diploma accurately reflecting the capabilities and experience of each individual school leaver.
The diploma comprises 3 sections. The first is a title page with the name of the school and school leaver, as well as the EUDEC logo, making it clear that this is an official document coming from a European organisation. Then comes an introductory page explaining briefly how a democratic school works and identifying key skills and competencies developed through participation in this kind of education system, such as personal responsibility, independence, self awareness, ability to work in a team, flexibility, and negotiation and conflict resolution skills among others. The next section is the main part of the diploma. This is a piece of text, structured much like a letter of recommendation. This description of the school leaver's personal qualities, skills and experience will be written by a group of students and staff members and approved by the leavers themselves.
The EUDEC Council is currently finalising the design of the Diploma. The first schools will be able use it this summer term. All member schools will be contacted after the Easter holidays with an information chart to complete and an invitation to offer the EUDEC Diploma this school year.
It is thrilling to see this EUDEC project coming to life and we are excited to hear about the experiences of schools in using it!
You can find out more information about the Diploma on our website http://www.eudec.org/Diploma+workgroup to view this page you will need to register.
ex Staff member, Freie Schule Leipzig
rroberts at eudec.org
EUDEC Launches New Website
In the summer of 2011, EUDEC’s new multilingual, wiki-based website went online at www.eudec.org. Thanks to a brilliant content-management system called TikiWiki, registered users can contribute and translate content through a user-friendly interface. Since the launch, the site has been growing with more and more interesting and up-to-date information on democratic education in multiple languages.
To use the new website interactively, simply click 'register' on the homepage. If you are a EUDEC member or a student, teacher or parent from a EUDEC member school or start-up group, you will also be granted access to members-only pages. To do this final step you simply need to email our site admin, Niklas ngidion at eudec.org.
Your feedback (email@example.com) is always welcome!
The Fear That Kids Won’t Learn
By Krischan Müller, 16, a student at the SchülerInnenSchule in Vienna
There are a couple basic questions that anyone who has this fear should ask themselves.
- How does this fear develop?
- What is the cause?
I have been going to an alternative school since primary school, basically from the very beginning. And I have to say, as far as I can remember back to my primary school time, I know that it can take a while until the system starts to “work” or until children understand it. This being said, the process is different for every child.
My mother told me that, at times, she also had her doubts that we had made the right choice. I think (almost) all parents sometimes have doubts, and it probably takes a lot of willpower to stay with it.
Willpower to stay with it
So what is the breeding ground for this doubt and the fear to have made a bad decision? I will try to point out a few reasons:
- the reputation of alternative schools and the preconception that children will not learn anything without compulsion and without marks
- the parent’s own childhood and the way they were raised
- set ideas about the child’s future, making it impossible to let go, observe and trust
- competition and societal pressure to achieve
- old, ingrained “beliefs”
- the parent’s own work overload, which can leave little or no time to support the child with his or her learning
- no clear idea of what a typical school day is like
- doubts coming from relatives and friends
- little faith in the child’s independent development
But when parents, in spite of this fear, stay focused on the advantages of the alternative school system, stay strong and don’t let their fears get the best of them, their perseverance eventually pay off. It just takes a while until parents notice that the concept of the alternative school has started to work. And once it all makes click and the child understands what it’s all about, then everything goes pretty fluidly. A parent’s fear that the child is unable to cope with the responsibility is not totally unjustified, and there are such cases, but these are pretty rare.
Like a delicious cake
I think that alternative schools should have certain elements, and these have to be well proportioned: i.e. a good alternative school, like a cake, has many yummy ingredients:
- a structure that the child can hold on to
- support with learning, where needed
- a good dose of freedom with a pinch of obligation
- moral support
- appetizing courses, projects and activities
- a positive social climate
- a good relationship between students and staff members
- a lot of shared decision-making.
If these ingredients are combined in the right amounts, the cake will turn out just right. And when all of these things are in place, it probably won’t take long before the child realizes that learning is not something bad, but – on the contrary, that it’s even fun! After all, people learn constantly.
However, a school shouldn’t make things too appetizing. The child should learn to rise to his own challenges or at least try. It’s not that the child should be left alone with these challenges, but he should be allowed to try to approach a task alone and get support where it’s needed. Sometimes even children in alternative schools have to learn or deal with something that is not interesting to them. There are just certain things we have to learn, and the less will we have to learn them, the more support we need. And every child learns differently.
I decided to do a short interview with my mother on this subject:
Were you afraid?
Yes, on occasion I was.
Do you have an anti-fear recipe for other parents?
I would say, a discussion with my child about my fears would be the first step, and if that doesn’t help, then take the time to find out everything you can about the way children learn at alternative schools, also through books. I participated in the recent seminar “BildungsFrühling” and found a lot of inspiration there.
Are you afraid at the moment?
No, not in the least.
So your fears did not become reality?
No, none of them, and I am very optimistic about the future.
(From the newsletter WUK-INFO-INTERN, June No. 3/11)
Highlight on Schools
The SchülerInnenschule, Vienna
The SchuelerInnenschule Vienna was founded in 1979 and is one of the oldest alternative democratic schools in Austria. The school was founded by a group of disgruntled parents who wanted something better for their children by way of school system and learning opportunities other than what was being offered by the state. The school considers itself a work in progress and is involved in a continually changing landscape of democratic education. The school is completely self-maintained by the community of parents, pupils and teachers. The main goals of the school are individual learning opportunities for (currently 53) young people between the ages of 10 and 18 years old with a focus on community through self input. Pupils, teachers and parents are given the opportunity to work together not only in classic subjects such as the sciences and languages but also creative subjects such as design, music, dance, theatre, circus and other forms of art.
The SchuelerInnenschule’s heart is its school meeting, which is held once or twice a week. Pupils and teachers come together to discuss all aspects of school life, including but not limited to curriculum and lesson plans, problems that may arise during the week, school meals, school trips and projects that can be organized by both adults and young people alike. Decisions that need to be made in the school must be voted on in the school meeting. Pupils and teachers who would like to join the school need to be accepted into the community by the school meeting after attending for a minimum of one week. Parents are also voted into the organization after the pupils are first voted in. Parents are also required to contribute to running the school with a minimum of 8 hours per month in areas such as cleaning, teaching, bookkeeping, building maintenance and cooking.
The SchuelerInnenschule strives to respect each member of its community as an individual and to allow each member a voice in how our community works.
Books and Magazines
If you haven't seen the new online magazine by Leonard Turton, then you've got a fun-packed weekend of interesting reading ahead of you.
The first volume of this revolutionary new online periodical includes fascinating pieces on democratic education in theory but especially practice, including pieces on democratic schools and book reviews.
The magazine can be viewed here: http://democratics.org.uk/magazine.html
Or, to make sure you receive future issues, simply subscribe at http://democratics.org.uk/
After Summerhill by Hussein Lucas
One of the big questions surrounding a radical educational establishment like Summerhill is whether parents might be ruining their children’s prospects by sending them to a school where the child is not forced to learn.
Founded by the legendary educator AS Neill in 1921, Summerhill is notable for the fact that it does not require any of its pupils to attend lessons. Furthermore, the school is run by a council of pupils, teachers and houseparents where questions of discipline are decided democratically. What, one may ask, is the likely outcome of sending a child to such a school?
In After Summerhill, Hussein Lucas investigates these and other questions in a series of extended interviews with people who were educated at Summerhill throughout its history. It comprises portraits of 15 former Summerhillians, taken from each of the decades of the school’s history since its foundation.
The former pupils who emerged from this radical experiment reveal about how they coped after they left the idyllic environment of Summerhill and went on to face the harsh realities of the world at large, and how their experience of the school affected their lives subsequently.
The subjects of the book show a wide range of outcomes in their career/work paths. They range from a professor of Physics at Imperial College, London; a senior lecturer at a London medical school and a former head of Graphics at the BBC, to furniture makers, teachers in inner city schools, pub landlords and even a person who never learned to read and write at the school and taught himself on a sheep station in Australia through frustration at never knowing where he was, because he couldn’t read signs. Despite the wide range of careers, the subjects of the book reveal a number of personal qualities and attitudes in common, among them a liberal, social outlook, a sense of tolerance, not feeling oppressed or defeated by life and confident in their ability to prevail in the face of adversity.
After Summerhill is also an oral history of the school told by those who were there, revealing how, throughout its 90 years, Summerhill has undergone a number of significant changes yet never relinquished its basic philosophy. Most of all, this is a book that deals with the actual outcomes of an approach to learning and education that seems to fly in the face of accepted wisdom
After Summerhill has been written and published independently of Summerhill School. The author, Hussein Lucas, is Bristol born and bred.
Available from all good bookshops
Available online at http://www.herbertadler.co.uk/aftersummerhill.html
For further information please contact John Adler at the above address
Democratic Education: A beginning of a story
In Democratic Education: A Beginning of a Story, Yaacov Hecht takes readers on a journey through personal discovery, the history of the Democratic School of Hadera, and the theories and practical application of democratic education.
As he recounts the founding and early years of the Democratic School of Hadera, Hecht weaves the stories of students, teachers, and parents, together with theories of education, development, and methods of teaching. Equipped with an unwavering commitment to, and unconditional respect for students, Hecht shares how he and others have faced the unseen challenges of starting a school outside of the standardized norm.
An essential book for any educator, A Beginning of a Story explores the place of democratic education in one man’s life, and its capacity to transform the world.
You can read an excerpt from the book by following this link. http://www.yaacovhecht.com/press-articles/democratic-education-excerpt/
To order this book, go to http://www.yaacovhecht.com
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