IDEC@EUDEC, organised by Sands School, was held in the River Dart Country Park, near Ashburton, Devon, and ran from the evening of July 5th to the morning of July 14th , after a two-day EUDEC Assembly and AGM. It was attended by around 600 people, about half of whom were school students. They came from 35 different countries, that is to say Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Grece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the UK and the USA.
The conference was organised by Chloe Duff, a former pupil of Sands School with a team of present and past students and staff, and Or Levi from Kfar Sava. There were planned talks by Yaacov Hecht, Amukta Mahapatra, Derry Hannam and others, but the bulk of the conference was made up of presentations and discussions organised the participants from day to day. On most days there was the opportunity to visit Sands School to see plays performed by the students, and an exhibition of students’ art. On top of that there were visits to Dartmoor and the sea, Jerry Mintz’s auction of donated items, karaoke, a talent show, juggling lessons, games of Capture the Flag, parties and dancing.
Mike Weimann’s photographs, at http://miwe.org/bilder/idec_eudec2011, give an excellent impression of the conference and its environment.
For those who were interested there was a further EUDEC meeting for elections to the EUDEC Council and an explanation of a new EUDEC school-leaving diploma. The Israelis who were present were encouraged to take part in exchanges with EUDEC members, but it was explained that actual membership of EUDEC can only be decided by the full EUDEC assembly. The inclusion of Israel will be on the next agenda.
There was also the usual IDEC meeting to decide on the site for the next IDEC but one. This gave rise to strong feelings but the final decision was that it should be organised by the Patchwork School in Colorado, USA. It was agreed that there should be a single website for all future IDECs, but that there should be no change in the current arrangement for complete freedom for the organisers of each conference to make whatever arrangements seem appropriate.
As a result of a bid from Taiwan to organise a future IDEC, an Asia-Pacific group had a preliminary meeting. It is planned to include India, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia.
The weekend was reserved for a public session, where there was a full programme of pre-planned talks including some by speakers invited from outside the world of democratic education.
Nearly all the arrangements for the event were made by a team of young people still at Sands School or recent leavers. This included the planning of the programme (including the public week-end, in conjunction with the Phoenix Education Trust) and the various outings, to the manning of the registration tent and the cooking and serving of the food. The staff of Sands School worked mainly as minibus drivers.
There were conversations everywhere, between people meeting old friends, making new contacts and exchanging information. The large delegation from Puerto Rico, the hosts for IDEC 2012, made a lively contribution. The only downsides were occasional heavy rain (particularly difficult to cope with when camping), a dispute about the fairness of the decision about IDEC 2013 and the fact that the English language dominated, with speakers often leaving interpreters little time to interpret. Jerry Mintz said he thought it was the best IDEC ever.
Will be held in Puerto Rico from March 24 – 28. The Puerto Ricans have already set up a magnificent website at www.idec2012.org.
Will be in Colorado, organised by the Patchwork School.
Taiwan and New Zealand have also made bids to host future IDECs.