Derry Hannam was a state school teacher and vice principal of a large English secondary school for twenty years. and then a school inspector. As an inspector he was able to help protect Summerhill School from closure and he has continued to use his experience on behalf of democratic schools in other countries.. He studied educational science at Oxford University and has been a consultant, researcher and advisor to the Council of Europe and the governments of the United Kingdom, Malta and Finland in student democracy as an essential part of Education for Democratic Citizenship (EDC). At the request of the English ministry of education he researched and authored the “outcomes“ based ‘Hannam Report’ linking democratic methods in schools with higher academic results, less anti-social behaviour, and better school attendance, especially for students from economically and socially deprived backgrounds. He is equally committed to the “rights” agenda however. His efforts are now directed to developing dialogue between the democratic education movement, state school systems and international organisations such as the EU and the Council of Europe. This was his main area of interest during his period as a member of EUDEC Council.
Yaacov Hecht founded the Democratic School of Hadera in Israel, the first school in the world to call itself democratic. He then helped to establish a network of democratic schools all over Israel. In 1993, he convened the first IDEC. Shortly after, Hecht founded the Institute for Democratic Education in Israel (IDE), and within it, the academic faculty for DE teachers.
His book “Democratic Education: A Beginning of a Story”, which has been translated into English, Portuguese, and Bulgarian, is a source of inspiration for groundbreaking educators and entrepreneurs all over the world. Yaacov regards the preparing and directing of the educational system towards the future as his main mission today.
Teacher in Democratic School Kapriole in Germany – The Kapriole is a democratic school that received state approval 15 years ago. At the moment 150 children between the ages of 6 and 18 come here to learn whatever, whereever, however, whenever and with whomever they want – all of the time. This absolute freedom and self-directed learning is the basis on which all other rules develop at the Kapriole. These rules are discussed and negotiated at the weekly school-meetings, in which each person has one vote – regardless of age and experience.
Pina Haas is a graduate student of Kapriole Democratic School in Germany and will share her experience about self-directed learning from the perscpective of the learner.
Trainer, The Two Swords Method
Two Swords has been developed in Israel over the past 15 years, and continues to see evolution today. The therapeutic method is a form of physical psychotherapy, a mind-body therapy, where the setting is Martial Arts training.
Founder of Language school „Two fishes“ in Sofia, Bulgaria with unique creative approach and Project-based learning.
Restorative practices specialist
Known in coaching circles as a certified and ICF accredited professional coaching and as a mentor / coaching trainer.
A value to Teddy is diversity, being able to understand (different) personal points of view, „translate“ them, even in the same language, helping people communicate effectively and build bridges of peace and understanding with others.
Therapist, musician and artist. He has over 16 years of therapeutic practice as a group leader, facilitator and project supervisor.
Psychologist, founder of KoopAcademy, where she co-manages a place for communication and personal growth and development for children and parents. She plays with a bunch of kids at The Flying Classroom, a cooperative child-care center, where she shares inspiration on nature play, art and storytelling for children. Fond of the alternative education, together with Maria Yaitsarova, she leads many courses and qualifications for teachers on Reggio Emilia, Nature Pedagogic, Play Therapy and Hands-on Experience in play-based education. She works on a holistic methodology for working with children, based on the relation with nature, storytelling and natural art. She gives many lectures and courses on parenting skills as Conscious Parenting, LearnGrowLove, Nurture Love and many others. She is inspired by expressive group therapy, art therapy, poetry, yoga and meditation, contemporary art, old photography and small Rhodopean villages.
Teodor Vasilev is an entrepreneur, educational expert and innovator with more than 10 years of experience inside and outside the education system. He is currently working on developing alternative educational models, methodologies and programs, as well as training teachers and teachers. In 2011. Teodor studies under Prof. Dr. Georgi Lozanov and Vanina Bodurova as a suggestopedogist and this becomes one of the missions of his life! Graduate in Gaming in the United States, ICAL Certified Accelerated Learning and Design Educational Teacher. Teodor’s portfolio also includes teaching history, social work, facilitation of community processes, coaching and more. As one of the founders of the National Youth Forum, he acts to develop the training capacity of the organization, where he establishes and directs the NMF Training Unit in the period 2013-2015. Brussels. In 2015, Theodore delivered a series of expert culmination hearings through the European Parliament on „Transforming education systems in Europe“.
Sashka is a group facilitator, instructor and trainer. At the conference, she will share her experiences in facilitation, social interactions and group processes, communication, learning through experience and social games.
Dr. Rumen Petrov is a psychiatrist, psychodynamic psychotherapist and group relations assistant at New Bulgarian University. He holds a PhD from the University of the West of England in Bristol, UK. His scientific interest is in the fields of social trauma, social recovery, community development, local democracy and civic participation. He teaches social work.author of the book „Confused in Pain: Social Trauma and Social Responsibility“
Founder of Diablo Valley School in California, USA
My work with children started in 1986, and six years later – in 1992 – my wife and I start the process of creating DVS (Diablo Valley School) based on the Sudbury model. The school opened January 1997 and we were staff/teachers there until 2005. During that time I was in charge of training new staff, and we also spend a lot of time educating the parents about all aspects of democratic education.. My son, Yo’el, joined the school at age 5 and graduated at 17 ½. Yo’el is now 27 and is managing his life to his satisfaction.
I have more than 30 years experience working with children and more than 20 years experience with free education, supported by 30 years of knowledge and experience in human learning processes. My professional work revolves around teaching people and as a result I have a lot of knowledge about the learning process, how it happens, how to support it, how to interfere with it and how to disrupt it.
In 1992 I read an article written by one of the founders of Sudbury Valley School and realized that the educational system they were promoting is very supportive of the process of learning.
I find it interesting to note that at Sudbury Valley School students routinely learn 1st through 6th grade math in 50 contact hours or less; that is a rate about 10 times faster than in the public schools. By extension it is reasonable to infer that students can learn all the academic material of 1st through 12th grade in 1.2 years!
In contrast, the public educational system is very disruptive to the learning process, with the predicted result that most students subjected to that system will be slow to learn the material presented, fast to forget it, and resentful of the entire process (and the adults who force them to participate in it).