EUDEC : The Community
The C in EUDEC does not only stand for Conference. It also stands for Community. The European Democratic Education Community is an official German project for the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development because of the involvement of children and young people in its democratic structure and its strong adherence to principles of environmental compatibility.
The aims of the European Democratic Education Community are:
- To support all forms of democratic education throughout Europe
- To promote democratic education as the sensible educational model for all democratic states
- To establish, in legislation, the right to found and attend democratic schools and to provide aid and support to democratic schools and start up groups
- To facilitate the exchange of information between democratic schools in Europe and create connections between schools for co-operation and mutual learning
- To provide information and outreach programs for colleges and training institutes to give future teachers a practical understanding of the basics of democratic education and what it can mean for teachers, pupils, educational environments, and democratic states.
The Phoenix Education Trust, a British charity which supports various democratic initiatives including IDEN, has adopted EUDEC as a project for its first two formative years, giving the Community official status as a charitable organisation and valuable support with fundraising and organisational development.
EUDEC 2008: The Conference
The conference, which was held at the University of Leipzig from July 25 to August 3, was attended by 388 people from 25 different countries, not all of them in Europe (Australia and Taiwan being particularly remote). Kapriole from Freiburg, the Leipzig Free School, Summerhill, Sands and Sudbury Valley schools were strongly represented, but there were also representatives of other approaches. La Ferme des Enfants, from the South of France, was there, as were students from the George Mitchell School in London, a state school in London which is starting on the road to democracy. There was a strong delegation from Poland. The Taiwanese ran a number of workshops about the situation in Taiwan, where people are beginning to revolt against an exceptionally authoritarian education system. There were special sessions arranged for young people still at school, but they also participated in the full conference and themselves ran workshops for people of all ages.
Most of the conference was organised by the participants day by day, but on July 31 and August 1 it was open to the general public, and there was a prepared programme of over fifty talks and workshops. The programme is posted at www.eudec2008.org.
The conference admirably fulfilled its twin objectives of providing a regional conference for those who could not afford to travel halfway round the world for a full IDEC, and publicising the launch of the new democratic education community.
The International Democratic Education Conference took place from 11 18 August at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
It was organized by SANE, the Society for the Advancement of Noncoercive Education, which is connected to Windsor House School, a democratic public alternative in North Vancouver, founded in 1971 by Helen Hughes. Windsor House is unusual, in that it is a public school, funded by the government, as well as a Democratic School and Parent Participation School.
Participants came from Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Israel, Germany, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Palestine, Peru, Russia, South Africa, the UK and the USA.
The most striking innovation of the conference was the recreation of Windsor House School on the university campus, offering participants, young and old, a taste of life at Canada¹s oldest democratic school, including a daily democratic meeting.
Speakers included Yakov Hecht from the Institute for Democratic Education in Israel, Mimsy Sadovsky from Sudbury Valley School, Helen Hughes from Windsor House and many new locals.
IDEC 2009 is to be held in South Korea, and the Korean delegation overcame the language barrier by introducing themselves with drumming, Korean games and joining in with ping-pong with Jerry Mintz.
The 150 international and 100 local participants enjoyed an amazing week of activities, ideas, new friendships and much more.
IDEC 2009 is to be in South Korea.
At the IDEC in Vancouver it was agreed that IDEC 2010 should be in Israel, if possible in co-operation with Hope Flowers School in Palestine.
At the EUDEC there were informal discussions about possible hosts for IDEC 2010 in Denmark, the UK or Spain. The decision taken in Vancouver means that these plans must be postponed. During the first five or ten years of IDECs it was difficult to find willing hosts even a year in advance. The fact that hosts are now decided two years ahead is an indication of the growth of the interest in democratic education worldwide.
Plans for an Asia/Pacific regional conference were also postponed after the decision to hold the 2009 IDEC in South Korea. Cecelia Bradley, of the AAPAE (the Australasian Association for Progressive and Alternative Education) hopes enthusiasm will be rekindled at IDEC 2009.