EUDEC2012: Programme for the public session

Simultaneous translation between English and German will be provided for all prepared talks and workshops advertised here in this programm. (This cannot be promised for the "open-space" sessions.)

What is open space
Learning is most effective when it is self-directed - not only in schools but also at a conference! For this reason we will offer time and space for conference attendees to initiate workshops and discussion groups themselves. This represents a chance to focus on your own individual questions right at the conference, to make sure that what matters to you definitely gets addressed. Do you have a burning question? Or is there a topic which you feel isn't being covered by the talks/workshops on offer? Or do you have a great idea that you would love to present? Then write your topic down and hand it in to the open-space organisation counter at the conference (as early as possible). There will be time reserved for self-initiated workshops on both days of the public session.

Table of contents

Friday, 3 August 2012

9.30 - 10.15 am

Greeting and introduction

10.30 am - 12.15 pm

A) Self-managed learning at a democratic and inclusive school: the Kapriole

(Niklas Gidion and pupils of the Kapriole; Friday 10.30 am -12.15 pm)

Founded 25 years ago, granted approval as a school 15 years ago, the Kapriole is one of the oldest democratic schools in Europe and, with its 150 pupils, also one of the largest. For many years now, the Kapriole has been actively engaged in exchanges and partnerships with other schools and was one of the founders of EUDEC in 2008. Over the years, the school has successfully grown and developed by learning from practical experience, exchanging ideas and evaluation.

All Kapriole pupils have the right to individuality, uniqueness and self-determination at all times in the way they live and learn at school – whether it’s in a class, alone with a book, on the football pitch or in a conversation with a friend on the sofa. In order to safeguard this right to free learning and be able to flexibly adapt learning opportunities to the ever-changing needs of the school body, the pupils have an equal share in the decision-making as to how the school is run.

No classes, no marks, no curriculum that is considered better or even compulsory, weekly school meetings, autonomous conflict resolution, personal assistance for all etc. – all of these are keywords describing the educational concept of the Kapriole. In their presentation, Niklas Gidion and several Kapriole pupils will describe in concrete terms how this concept is put into practice.

B) Democratic Schools. Why we need them and how we can assure ourselves and others that they are working successfully.

(Derry Hannam; Friday 10.30 am -12.15 pm)
It is beyond dispute that official state school systems around the world are failing to develop the creative potential of large numbers of young people. This is a personal loss for those young people and a social, political and economic loss for society as a whole. Alternatives are necessary and many of these take the form of some kind of democratic education. In many parts of the world state systems attempt to apply accountability processes that they believe to be appropriate for their official schools to alternative democratic schools where they are usually greatly inappropriate. Alternative models of accountability are needed for democratic alternative schools. This talk will consider what this might involve, drawing on examples with which the speaker has been personally involved such as Summerhill School in England and the Sudbury model schools in Denmark and the Netherlands.

C) Democratic and inclusive education – innovative siblings

(Ines Boban and Prof. Dr. Andreas Hinz; Friday 10.30 am -12.15 pm)
Both approaches share a number of characteristics, namely that learning is an individual process and, ideally, should be decided upon by the individual concerned. Another prerequisite of both approaches is an intensive dialogue between the people involved.

D) The democratic education phenomenon in Israel

(Ramit Avidan and Meital Hershkovich; Friday 10.30 am -12.15 pm)
22 km2, 7 milion people, 30 democratic schools – the future is already there!?...
Zooming out and in on the democratic education phenomenon in Israel.
In this session we will look from a macro and a micro point of view at the different shows of the democratic education in Israel like: diversity of schools, IDE institute, the Israeli EUDEC; and academy programs. We will also share our personal experience as teachers and students and would like to answer your questions and hear your comments.

E) Open spac;

Also in parallel to the prepared talks and workshops, conference attendees have the possibility (and are encouraged) to initiate their own discussion groups and advertise them via the open space info boards.

12.30 - 1.00 pm

Guided planning of open space; in the afternoon

After the first round of talks/workshops, many new questions will hopefully have arisen. That is the perfect time to ensure that your own questions will get addressed during this conference: use open space for this and initiate your own discussion group/workshop. Just how this can be managed at a conference of a few hundred people in a transparent and practical way will be explained in more detail here.

1.15 - 2.45 pm


3.00 - 4.30 pm

A) Informal Learning - becoming educated without knowing

(Alan Thomas; Friday 3.00 - 4.30 pm)
When most people think of alternative methods of education they tend to think of schools such as Summerhill and Sudbury Valley. In this talk Alan Thomas will focus on parents who educate their children informally at home. They have much to tell the world about the real nature of learning.
Informal learning in the first years of life is undoubtedly of paramount importance.
How does this learning occur? Infants and young children are driven to learn a great deal for themselves as they come to grips with the world around them. Of course parents play a crucial role in providing opportunities to learn. They talk to their children, draw attention to what might be of interest and respond to children’s interests, read to them, provide toys, games and other materials, take them out into the wider world, and introduce them to people.
Although the effectiveness of informal learning is beyond doubt, hardly anyone has asked how far it might be extended into the years when nearly all children go to school in order to learn.
Informal home education gave Alan Thomas a unique opportunity to do just this. The curriculum is the world around; children follow their own interests; parents are not teachers; they are resources and conversational partners.
This kind of education has been shown to be effective, certainly through the primary and early secondary years.
Moreover, children who have experienced informal learning do not appear to find it a hindrance when they go on to study formally in school or college.
Alan Thomas will also

  • compare informal learning with learning in school.
  • explore how democratic practices in school involve a great deal of informal learning.
  • show how informal learning puts philosophical aspirations into practice.
  • consider how far informal learning can take place in a school.
  • argue that informal home education itself is a good training ground for democracy.

B) Hostility to Democratic Education

(David Gribble; Friday 3.00 - 4.30 pm)
A few examples of the irrationality of the widespread hostility to democratic education that leads to head teachers being dismissed and schools being closed. Included is a suggestion for an energetic response.

C) Independent A-level project methodos

(pupils from methodos; Friday 3.00 - 4.30 pm)
The group methodos is a pupil initiative in Freiburg in which we prepare for our A-levels independently. In order to manage our own learning programme we are no longer enrolled in regular schools.
Five years ago 10 pupils started this project by founding the non-profit organization methodos.
Every year a new group of pupils gets together to learn independently.
If you would like to find out what a completely pupil-managed school looks like, please join our workshop!

D) Living with Democratic Education for 50 Years

(Lynette Gribble; Friday 3.00 - 4.30 pm)

As a:

  • Froebel student
  • Young teacher
  • Wife, parent, grandparent
  • Slightly older teacher
  • Primary school founder
  • Director of The Open School
  • Attendee of IDECs and EUDECs

-> Who thinks I’ve been wasting my life?

E) Open space;

Also in parallel to the prepared talks and workshops, conference attendees have the possibility (and are encouraged) to initiate their own discussion groups and advertise them via the open space info boards.

5.00 - 6.30 pm

exclusively open space

That means: self-initiated by the conference attendees. Your question here. - The programm is built collaboratively by all and will be displayed at the conference venue.

6.30 - 8.00 pm


Starting at 8.15 pm

Open-air cinema with several films about democratic education

Saturday, 4 August 2012

8.00 - 9.15 am

Breakfast at the Kapriole

9.30 - 11.00 am

A) Creating a Common Bond between Democratic and State Education. How can that be put into Practice?

(Ute Siess; Saturday 9.30 -11.00 am)
Everybody who works with children and young people in an educational setting aims to help them prepare for leading independent lives and discover their unique talents, skills and passions. Educational approaches, as well as their implementation, can be completely different. This aim can be achieved in a variety of ways.
Networking among democratic schools is very constructive, but unfortunately non-state schools are often seen and treated differently from state schools.
What possibilities are there to join forces? Everyone has a lot to offer, and we can profit from
each other. How can we achieve this aim together?

B) Democratic School - and then?

(several ex-students of democratic schools; Saturday 9.30 - 11.00 am)
Ex-students from several different European democratic schools talk about their experience after leaving school and answer questions.
(Because we expect a lot of interest in this talk, it will be offered again at 11.30 am.)

C) What a miracle: the school system was blown away ... and people could educate themselves freely!

(Bertrand Stern; Saturday 9.30 - 11:00 am)
The time is nigh when people shall feel astonishment at the nonsensical idea that education was once associated with school and people were turned into pupils.
It has become obvious that education can only be free, humane and meaningful if it avoids any form of dispossession and paternalism through means of force - especially pedagogical.
The demand Schluss mit Schule (An end to schooling!) represents an opportunity for the innovative design of landscapes of free education: Who could resist this most human and natural desire for education?

D) Each child is unique - and learns in many different ways.

(Karen Whitescarver; Saturday 9.30 - 11:00 am)
Karen Whitescarver will address learning at its core - a person's basic interaction with their environment. Learning incorporates all of life; it should not be compartmentalised. The difficulty lies in our apparent need to talk about it in the traditional way so that we have a language to discuss the paradigm shift of democratic education. Learning is social, academic and personal. Karen will address the concerns many parents have about their child doing well in life, in spite of not being taught in a traditional environment. One of the most difficult issues that parents have with democratic education is that it does not mesh with their own experience of childhood, nor with the wider culture's view of childhood. The ability of students to interact freely, determine how they spend their time and be responsible for their own choices is part of a process of natural maturing. Whether a student is in a meeting, investigating the forest or debating with a friend - that individual is pursuing something they view as meaningful, relevant and interesting. When children make meaningful choices, it allows them to become responsible adults who can create successful lives.

E) Open space

Also in parallel to the prepared talks and workshops, conference attendees have the possibility (and are encouraged) to initiate their own discussion groups and advertise them via the open space info boards.

11.30 am - 1:00 pm

A) "Peer Reviews" for purposes of evaluation and school development - experiences from the school network "Blick über den Zaun".

(Axel Backhaus; Saturday 11.30 am - 1:00 pm)

Blick über den Zaun (literally v"iew over the fence") is a network of progressive schools founded in 1989 to promote bottom up school development.
Its professed aim is to help schools learn from one another by sharing ideas and experiences by means of organising seminars and attracting new schools. Schools can inspire, encourage and support one another through exchange visits known as Peer Reviews.
In this workshop we will discuss the value of "Peer Reviews" based on experiences from the school network Blick über den Zaun.

B) Authoritarian schooling - a Catalogue of Damage

(David Gribble; Saturday 11.30 am - 1:00 pm)
In this workshop, David Gribble concerns himself with the damage caused by traditional schooling, e.g. constant comparisons of performance levels which undermine self-esteem; constant pressure which encourages the tendency to use untruths; teachers being in a position of power, leading pupils to feeling inferior.

C) Safe havens for children – prevention of sexual abuse in institutions

(Meta Sell; Saturday 11.30 am - 1:00 pm)
The sexual abuse of minors can occur in any setting where children and young people spend time - even in schools.
The group "Netzwerk Spiel/Kultur Prenzlauer Berg e.V." works in youth centres, nurseries, day-care centres and schools and has developed a safety concept with the aim of protecting minors from sexual abuse and employees from false accusations.
The workshop will deal with the following issues and include time for questions and discussion:

  • What gave rise to this concept’s development?
  • What strategies do perpetrators use?
  • Who are their victims?
  • What are the main points of the safety concept?
  • Why is it of particular importance for democratic schools?

D) Democratic School - and then?

(several ex-students of democratic schools; Saturday 11.30 am -1:00 pm)
Ex-students from several different European democratic schools talk about their experiences after leaving school and answer questions.
(Because we expect a lot of interest in this talk, this is a second chance to hear this talk, which was held at 9.30 am)

E) Open space;

Also in parallel to the prepared talks and workshops, conference attendees have the possibility (and are encouraged) to initiate their own discussion groups and advertise them via the "open space" info boards.

1.15 - 2.45 pm


3.00 - 4.30 pm

Exclusively open space;

That means: self-initiated by the conference attendees. "Your question here." - The programm is built collaboratively by all and will be displayed at the conference venue.

5.00 - 6.30 pm

A) Citizen-centred future celebrations with circles of supporters

(Ines Boban and Prof. Dr. Andreas Hinz; Saturday 5.00 - 6.30 pm)
Our experience shows that "future celebrations at the micro level" can change the world. They have great potential in terms of furthering inclusion and democracy.
The term "future celebration" refers to the following: a person, group, institution or region calls upon the support of people from their area to help clarify future prospects. This circle of supporters acts as a "round table", offering either ad hoc or continual advice over a period of several years on "major issues" and helping to implement new projects.

B) StudentVoice - Supporting students to have their say

(Rachel Roberts; Saturday 5.00 - 6.30 pm)
The Phoenix Education Trust is a small national charity in the UK which supports democracy in education. This work includes researching pupil participation, supporting relevant organisations (such as EUDEC) and working with emerging and exisiting democratic schools. Phoenix is also the parent body for 'StudentVoice'. StudentVoice is a rapidly growing student-led membership organisation. It is to hold democratic elections in the new year when its members will elect regional representatives for the national council, who will in turn govern the overall organisation. StudentVoice supports all young people of secondary school age in developing skills, expressing their opinions, being represented and, most importantly, being heard, both locally within their schools and on a national level. This talk will focus on some specific examples of how StudentVoice does this, especially in relation to exams, curriculum and teaching standards.

C) Mainstream school, Free school, Democratic school - An examination of practice using ritual analysis

(Robert Hamm; Saturday 5.00 - 6.30 pm)
In every school one can observe everyday rituals which are performed unconsciously. Becoming conscious of these is an important instrument for understanding the "school climate".
Please note: This workshop does not promote rituals as didactical means which are increasingly being used by teachers in various schools.
Instead the aim is to make concepts of ritual/ritualisation fruitful as analytic tools for understanding school practice.

D) Guided tour through the building of the Kapriole School

(Pupils of the Kapriole; Saturday 5.00 - 6.30 pm)
Pupils of the Kapriole will give a guided and tour of their school building with a commentary.

E) Open space;

Also in parallel to the prepared talks and workshops, conference attendees have the possibility (and are encouraged) to initiate their own discussion group and advertise them via the "open space" info boards.