Education Revolution E-Newsletter 22.04.2010

Report and Video from the 18th Annual International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC); Ash Cloud Grounds Our Flight in England by Jerry Mintz

The 18th International Democratic Education Conference was held in Israel from April 6th to 13th. Actually I’ve been on my way back to the New York office since then but have been stranded in England since the 14th. It was just supposed to be an overnight but Mother Nature had other ideas!

This was the 4th time the IDEC was in Israel, where is started in 1993 when Yaacov Hecht gathered a dozen of us after a multicultural education conference in Tel Aviv. That was at the Democratic School of Hadera which Yaacov had started about 20 years ago. Sine then there have been over 25 democratic schools started in Israel and Yaacov has set up a training program for teachers interested in democratic education called the Institute for Democratic Education (IDE). They organized this IDEC. Furthermore, mayors of cities in Israel and other countries have been asking him to help democratize not only the schools but more. It is very exciting!

More that 250 people came from 14 countries around the world from democratic schools and programs to join more than 1,000 Israelis at conference events. These included visits to two democratic schools. The Hadera school now has 400 students. It is configured in a big square of small buildings surrounding a soccer field. It is like a children’s village. We took a lot of video that we hope to make available later.

The conference itself was at the Seminar Kibbitzim, where the IDE is located, in Tel Aviv. There were a great variety of activities. There were planned and spontaneous workshops, a beautiful Shabbat ceremony, and musical performances, Isaac Graves and I did a presentation about AERO that you can see on the blog. I also taught table tennis and organized an auction to help defray their conference costs, which ran over budget.

There were 50 people from German schools, at least 35 from Netherlands, and remarkably, 15 people from the Stork Family School in Ukraine found a way to get there. A few came from Japan including Kai who has spent time at Brooklyn Free School, came by way of England and also got stuck on his way back. He flies out tomorrow. Some of you may remember his article in Education Revolution magazine.

On the way over I had stopped in England to visit Summerhill to give a talk in London. After I was stranded on the way back in England I stayed a few days with the family that had organized my talk (see their description of their school below) and then with Albert and Popsie Lamb in the Cotswolds. Albert is is a former AERO Education Revolution magazine Editor and now writes popular children’s books, among other things. They are both former Summerhill students and Albert’s children also went there and are doing very well.

The planes just started flying again so I hope to be back to New York in a few days!

Democratic Education: A Beginning of a Story (New Book by Yaacov Hecht)

Democratic Education A Beginning of a Story by Yaacov Hecht

This incredible new book came off the printers just on week ago and now we are excited to offer it to you.  These are the only copies currently available for sale outside Israel!  Yaacov was kind enough to inscribe a few of the books, which we are also offering as a special.

You can order the book (signed and unsigned) online at:

“Democratic Education: A Beginning of a Story describes a fascinating personal journey and recounts the history of the foundation of the Democratic School of Hadera, which has successfully implemented a fascinating and important pedagogical experiment: How to convert the authoritative school into a democratic community, where the students have equal rights. Anyone with interest in education should read this fabulour book, about a unique school which has justly gained a worldwide reputation.”
Prof. Amnon Rubinstein, Former Israeli Minister of Education

“Yaacov Hecht is the father of democratic education in Israel. From his school of thought emerged the democratic schools, the personal education programs and significant amount of the educational communities. Hecht puts in the center the attentiveness of the child and to his various abilities and needs. In the schools which are influenced by his ideas, teachers and students alike take responsibility for themselves and for their shared work, and create an involved learning community. The Ministry of Education sees in Yaacov Hecht’s educational path a model worthy of studying and implementing throughout the education system”
Prof. Yuli Tamr, Former Israeli Minister of Education

“Yaacov Hecht wrote an important book, which expands the concept of education far beyond the schools’ boundaries. He demonstrates how education can transform whole communities, and how the living standards of the 21st century enable all, young as old, to adopt the ‘Life Long Learning’ outlook.”
Prof. Daniel Greenberg, Founder of Sudbury Valley School, U.S.A.

“Yaacov thoroughly understands what freedom is for children. This understanding enables him to define a free framework with clear rules and boundaries. His approach to the field of education and to child raising is free, open and grounded. This is a rare approach. I am honored that Yaacov drew his inspiration from my father, A.S. Neill, and from Summerhill School, when he founded the Democratic School of Hadera.”
Zoe Neill Readhead, Principal of Summerhill School, England

You can order the book (signed and unsigned) online at:

 Summerhill & A.S. Neill (3 copies of hard to find book available) Jerry Mintz

I’ve been feeling bad that we have not been able to carry the new version of Summerhill with big sections by Neill’s daughter, Zoe Readhead and new photographs in our online bookstore. It is impossible to get it in the United States because it is costly in pounds to begin with and shipping is so expensive. So, when I visited Summerhill on our way to the IDEC I got three copies, brought them to Israel, and gave them to Isaac to bring back to the AERO bookstore in Colorado. He’s now back and we are selling them for $50 each. We have no more and it would be difficult to get more. It is called Summerhill and A.S. Neill.  For more information on the book and to order, visit:

Exciting Upcoming Conference: “The Value of Community, Teaching and Learning: The work of children and teachers together”

Voyagers’ Community School 2nd Annual Education Conferencebr />
“The Value of Community”

Teaching and Learning In Community With Children and Adolescents

 For educators, parents and professionals who work with children.

Keynote Speaker: Lella Gandini, EdD

May 18 – 21, 2010

Farmingdale, NJ for more information

Workshops Include:
Doing Democracy with Young Children
Elizabeth Baker, Founder and Director of The Patchwork School, Louisville, Colorado

Developing Genuine Relationships Through the Art of Play
Karen Chayot, CDA and Kathy Goldenberg, MEd Co-Founders, The Project P.L.A.Y. School

The Richness of Collaboration Between School Communities: The Mushroom Project
Kadi Cook, MEd, Teacher/Researcher, Voyagers’ Community School and Debra Piescor, Master Teacher, A Child’s Place School

Negotiating Learning in Community with Children: Vibrant engagement and anticipation
Karen Giuffre’, MEd, Founder and Director of Voyagers’ Community School

Democratic Education: Foundations & Practice
Isaac Graves, Outreach Coordinator and Conference Director for The Alternative Education Resource Organization

When Students Aspirations Challenge a Teacher’s Sensibility
Richard Knab, Teacher/Researcher, Voyagers’ Community School

Lego and Math: The Perfect Match
Sandy Miller, Teacher/Researcher, Voyagers’ Community School

Designing An Atelier With Children at the Helm
Kelly Sadowski, Voyagers’ Parent, Board Member NJEEPRE

Using Creative Art to Express Ideas about Where Lions and Tigers Live When They Are Not in a Zoo
SSusan Wier, Master Teacher, A Child’s Place School

 ABC’s Good Morning America’s Hatchet Job on Unschooling

ABC’s Good Morning America recently aired a segment on unschooling titled “Extreme Homeschooling: No Tests, No Books, No Classes, No Curriculums.” After a firestorm of criticism and comments on the inaccurate portrayal of unschooling, they aired a segment answering a few viewer comments. Pat Farenga from Holt Associates also briefly explains the difference between homeschooling and unschooling. For links to the videos, visit:

Please leave a comment to let us know what you think of the segments.

Family School, A Democratic School in London Polly Griffiths

We call our school the Family School because we wanted to make an environment that made a strong connection between family life and school. There was no available school in London with even a remotely similar ethos. We started thinking seriously about it when our son was six months old, about five years ago. Initially we worked with two other families and a teacher who was very knowledgeable about alternative education approaches. Also we read books about other alternative schools around the world such as Park School and Sands School in England, which we visited. We also visited Summerhill. We are now in our third year and the school is growing organically. We meet at an old pub that we bought and converted in Brixton, South London. The students now are between 4 and 7. We’ll be growing the school until we cover ages 4 to 11. We learn together through play, projects and activities. Teaching is done informally, supporting each child’s interest and development in the moment.. Weekly activities have included, woodwork, pottery, away days, tennis, cooking, swimming, library visits, museums, and walks in the woods. We do loads of reading. Academic, social, emotional and conflict resolution skills are developed intrinsically through the group’s activities. Parents are welcome to join in. We start each day with a morning meeting where everyone in the group, adults and children alike, propose their plans for the day and any problems they wish to share.

We were pleased to have Jerry Mintz here for our first public event. We hope that this will be the first of many as we attempt to increase awareness of democratic approaches to education in the United Kingdom.

Polly Griffiths, Family School,

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