EUDEC Newsletter June 2014


Dear readers!

Get ready for meetings, projects, and stories! We have news for you about this year’s upcoming conferences, and some really cool projects! So brew a cup of your favourite tea, sit in your best armchair while you read this newsletter full of fresh, crispy informations and announcements. We hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as we did making it.

Also, we are very pleased that in March we finally managed to hire a coordinator for EUDEC. And we would like to welcome Chloe, our new coordinator! Over the years Chloe has acquired vast knowledge of democratic education. She has been a EUDEC member since 2009, and has been a council member for several years. Furthermore she was the chief organiser of the IDEC@EUDEC conference in Devon in 2011. She has also attended numerous conferences about democratic education such as EUDEC, IDEC and AERO and is therefore very well connected in the community of dem.edu and is always up to date about what is going on.

EUDEC council

Invitation to this year's AGM and conference

The organising team of this year’s EUDEC’s annual meeting happily invites you to Copenhagen! The AGM and a small conference will be held from the 4th to the 9th of August. You can register here . Beware that the early bird ends by June 1st.

The venue is situated in the popular area of Nørrebro in the central Copenhagen, at walking distance from the medieval and historical centre. The venue is just beside the Hans Tausen's Park, where you'll find a little playground, a basketball- and a football ground and some small climbing walls. And just behind the park you'll find the Assistens Cemetery, which is used as a park by the people of Nørrebro.

We have decided to host more of an AGM than a conference because we signed up to do it very spontaneously and were unsure of the resources and time at our disposal. However, we also want it to be more than just AGM and plenary sessions so we’re holding it over four days from the 5th to 8h of August (with arrival on the 4th and departure on the 9th) so there’s lots of time for workshops and other activities.

Thus, we hope to be able to have the AGM over two days with workshops at the same time for those who aren’t interested in plenary sessions, and leave the rest of the time for other activities!

And of course there will be all the off thing; party, capture the flag, football, etc.

We also plan to have an open day, where we would like to invite people from other critical networks engaged in educational matters. And we would like to have a debate between some representatives from EUDEC and them about freedom and how we understand it/what it means in an educational context.

More information will be posted on the website!

We hope to see you there!
The EUDEC 2014 AGM team

More conferences

If you like traveling the world, educational-wise and in the very plain sense of packing your bag and leaving Europe, there are two conferences you might want to go.
The AERO Conference 2014 in New York, USA, 26th-29th June 2014.

The IDEC 2014 in Gwangmyeong, Korea, 27th July - 3rd August 2014.

News from Chloe

EUDEC’s Democratic Education Events Calendar - Please tell us about your events!
I am in the process of creating a calendar of events for the EUDEC website. The idea is to have a calendar that is continually added to with democratic education events or events where democratic education should be represented so everyone can easily find out what is going on and where. If you are organising an event or know of an event taking place that should be in our calendar, no matter how big or small, then please send details of it to cduff at eudec.org – Thank you, Chloe

Linking Up Democratic Education
I am putting together a database of individuals, schools and organisations with a connection to democratic education from around the world. The database will be made available for the public on the EUDEC website by August 2014. We will be able to continually add to it once it is up and running but it would be great to get as many people, schools and organisations on it as possible for when it is launched.

We hope that by creating this database it will help link up people around the world already involved in democratic education to exchange ideas and experiences. It can also be used to facilitate exchange and travel abroad, give people a clear overview of what is going on globally in democratic education and be used for many other things including research and the promotion of democratic education.

The final product is going to be made to look visually great and will incorporate maps and be easy for people to use.

If you are up for being a part of this exciting project and would like to join the database could you please send me an email with a very brief description of your connection or involvement to democratic education, no more than 100 words please! And the country you reside in, as well as the contact details you are happy to be made available on the database. You could also include a photo - cduff at eudec.org

If your project, school or organisation would like to be a part of the database then please also send me the name of the project, school or organisation and a brief description of what you are doing as well as the country it is based in and the contact details you are happy to be made available - cduff at eudec.org

If you know of any other individuals, schools, organisations or projects that you feel should be included in the database then please pass this information and my contact details to them - cduff at eudec.org

I hope you are all well and look forward to seeing many of you at the IDEC in South Korea and the EUDEC AGM in Copenhagen this summer!


Interview with former council member: Dragana

We like to introduce a new feature to the newsletter! In the up-coming newsletters you’ll find interviews with former council members. We would like them to tell a bit about how they came into contact with EUDEC, how they see EUDEC and where they would like EUDEC to go.

The first one is with Dragana Bolješić-Knežević.
Occupation: Teacher of English as foreign language, vocational education

Q: How did you hear about EUDEC?

I went to university to study English with the aim of teaching it to students once I graduate. I liked English more than I liked the idea of teaching and since graduation in 1990 life provided me with plenty of opportunities to use English and learn other things by using it. Anyhow, in 2004 I went back to teaching and I was very enthusiastic about it. Two years in state schools made me realise that something was seriously wrong with the whole concept of schools. I searched for alternatives in education and revisited ideas like Steiner and Montessori. By coincidence (or not) I came upon an article in a Croatian magazine about Summerhill and became very interested. In 2007 I contacted Zoe and Leonard and also got in contact with Leslie as preparations for the first EUDEC conference were underway. In May of 2008 I co-founded the association Free School with the aim of promoting democratic education in Croatia and founding a school or schools in the long run. In 2009 we organised a series of talks in Croatia and had democratic education teachers and students talking to future teachers and other interested people in four towns. Ever since that time I have been working on promoting democratic education in my country and cooperating with EUDEC.
In the beginning or this year we finally received a go ahead from the Croatian Ministry of Education. In the meantime we rallied and now have three start - up groups in our country.

Q: Why did you decide to run for the election?

I attended the first EUDEC conference in Leipzig and had a chance to meet up with people who represented and supported democratic education in Europe. Their talks and short conversations we shared between workshops were overwhelming and I spent most of that time crying inside (sometimes outside as well). I felt sorry for myself, because I could not have gone to a democratic school. I felt sorry for all school children in Croatia, including my own. I made a promise to myself that I was going to be on-board this movement and contribute to the spreading of this common sense concept of education and being with children. I came to the EUDEC meeting in Poland and it was just natural to run for Council. There was no doubt in my mind about it. No one had to persuade me or put that idea into my head as it was planted there inLeipzig and as I felt the need to work closely with EUDEC and for EUDEC.

Q: How long were you a council-member?

I was on the Council for a year. It was a combination of personal and professional reasons that made me quit after only a year. I do not support the model or the mode of work in which majority of money that comes through memberships is spent on council live meetings. I think that modern communication technologies make it possible for the Council to do its work using those. I further believe that EUDEC needs to concentrate on fund raising activities that will secure sufficient funds for EUDEC to employ people to work on democratic education projects and making real impact on education decision making policies in EU. Democratic education yet needs to be recognised and accepted as a common sense and acceptable education philosophy that students and parents have a right to access in EU countries that are all self declared democratic societies.

Q: What was it like?

I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. It was very intense and I grew so much in the process and have made wonderful friends that I still respect and follow their work. I do hope that I was able to contribute to EUDEC in this short time and would encourage people to run for Council and contribute their time and ideas because EUDEC matters to all of us.

Q: Are you still following EUDEC's work?

I still follow what goes on with EUDEC and cooperate with EUDEC. It was due to support we got from EUDEC that we managed to get a permit to found a democratic school in Croatia at the end of last year, having spent nearly three years on this path and having fought the administrative maze and misunderstanding.

Q: What would you say to someone who would like to become a council-member?

If you think you have it in you and are interested in working on the Council, do so. It is not complicated and it is lots of fun to have regular meetings using modern technology. You get to be part of something big and have a chance to voice your opinion and contribute to the development of this big organisation that is going to get grander because of your work. It is very involving and you get sucked into it in a positive way. If you have great ideas, and even if you do not, working on the Council will inspire you to think about EUDEC and how to make it into an organisation that matters in democratic education, but also in education in general.

Q: What did you consider the most important thing for EUDEC to do or achieve when you ran for council?

The most important thing for me was for EUDEC to become an organisation that supports the existing democratic education schools while also providing information, support and know how to groups and individuals who are in the process of starting democratic schools. On EU level, I was hoping for EUDEC to become an organisation that will somehow influence education policies in EU countries and advocate pluralism in education for children in EU countries.

Q: What do you consider the most important thing for EUDEC to do or achieve today?

I still consider the above to be the most important things for EUDEC to achieve.

Q: Where do you see EUDEC in 10 years?

I see EUDEC as a semi-professional organisation with a number of full time employees who develop projects and produce information packs, publications and other materials that promote and support democratic education. EUDEC is a meeting point for democratic schools, but also for other schools and individuals interested in democratic education. It is a growing network that not only connects but also empowers and supports the spreading of the democratic education ‘’virus’’ in EU countries and organises projects, meetings and conferences that involve EU education decision makers. It is an organisation that can efficiently offer the know-how on how to start and run democratic schools and provides on going support for new schools and school start-up groups. To achieve this, EUDEC is also proficient in fund raising and EU funded project coordination. EUDEC is much more than yearly meetings and conferences. EUDEC is known, recognised and accepted as a leading democratic education organisation that aims at making democratic education a real option for more children in EU countries.

Book review

Chomsky on democracy and education, 2002 by Taylor & Francis Group LLC

by Aurore Debierre

For those who don't know about Noam Chomsky, he is an American linguist, philosopher, political critic and activist. He is an institute professor and professor emeritus in the department of linguistics and philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years.
Education has been one of his main subjects of interest. Maybe because he experienced a different school when he was a child. Chomsky's primary education was at Oak Lane Country Lane School, an independent institution that focused on allowing its pupils to pursue their own interests in a non-competitive atmosphere. And you can see in this collection of texts that it's an experience he wishes to everyone.

His thoughts are really inspired by Bertrand Russell and John Dewey. Though these two thinkers disagreed on a lot of subjects, but they really concured with the humanist conception inherited from the Enlightment which said that education isn't about filling up a container, but on the opposite to accompany a plant flowering.
Russel and Dewey defended the idea that this way people could become free individuals who wouldn't cherish accumulation and domination, but rather free association in terms of equality, sharing and solidarity who would help each other in order to serve common and democratic goals.

The two philosophers' points of view are detailed and become the source of Chomsky's thoughts on Education in three different texts or speeches he made throughout the years :
For a humanist conception of education (1975)
Democracy and Education (1994)
Specific items of information and intellectual defence (1999)

The analysis is at the same time really accurate and easy to read and understand.

Funny for a French reader to notice that the translation of the book title in France was « For a humanist education », I guess for many reasons, the publishers thought that « humanism » would have a much stronger effect on French readers than « democracy ». I wonder how this is translated in other languages...

Anyway, this book is short and can be very helpful to people who need some theorical bases about democratic education, so if you have a chance to read it, don't hesitate.

Interviews with students from Sudbury schools

Dear brave reader,
you now have come to the end of this newsletter. Your tea cup might be empty, or gone. You might wonder what happend with you cat. Also, the sun has set and risen many times since you started reading. You might feel like talking to someone? Yes, we did anticipate that and happily present to you some wonderful people. Students and alumni of Sudbury Schools, interviewed by Monika from Sudbury Munich. Thank you, Moni!
And please enjoy: Interviews with Sudbury students