2013 – Democracy and School

Participants in our Symposium came from a variety of backgrounds. Lecturers in teacher education, parents of young children, home educators, teachers and members of the board of management … all took part in the lively discussions of the topic of ‘Democracy and School’.

The program of the day:We are delighted to announce the 4th annual Symposium of SSP. It will be held on Saturday, 18th of May. This year our topic will be ‘Democracy and School’.

The program consists of three sessions.  For each session a period of 90 minutes is scheduled. At the beginning of the sessions there will be a presentation of approx. 20 minutes followed by an open discussion. Between the sessions there are breaks of half an hour. Refreshments are available. Childminding will be available on request. For organisational details see also below.

We are happy to announce for this year the following sessions:

11.00 h – Session 1

Brian Ruane, Centre for Human Rights and Citizenship Education Ireland (link to CHRCE)

Democracy and School – Adult’s perceptions and children’s experiences

Brian will present research results of a study conducted in Irish schools since 2010. The research deals with questions of human rights education in Irish schools, focussing on areas like children as rights holders and teachers as duty bearers with regards to children’s rights. In his presentation Brian will look at adult’s (teacher’s) concepts and beliefs in relation to democracy in school. These concepts and beliefs are a determining factor for the children’s experiences.

Brian is lecturer in history education and citizenship education in St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra. He is programme leader in the CHRCE. Prior to his appointment, Brian was a primary teacher and subsequently, Human Rights Education Manager with Amnesty International Irish Section. He has managed a range of national and international projects in Human Rights Education and has written and edited resource materials, articles and manuals on a range of related subject.

13.00 – Session 2

Eva Haas, co-founder and teacher of Kapriole Free Democratic School, Freiburg, (link to Kapriole).

Niklas Gidion – European Democratic Education Community, and teacher at Kapriole (link to EUDEC).

Self-directed learning in a democratically run school, the example of Kapriole (Freiburg, Germany)

The concept of self-directed learning is a guiding principle for Kapriole Free Democratic School. Eva and Niklas will describe experiences within a school that is run by a direct democracy of students and teachers. Children at the Free Democratic School Kapriole learn when, where, what, how and with whom they wish. All issues concerning the everyday running of the school are discussed and decided upon at the weekly “School Assembly” attended by pupils and teachers alike on the basis of one person one vote.
Eva is one of the founding members of Kapriole and teaches in the school for over 15 years. She is part of the team that developed Kapriole from a small initiative to a thriving school with 150 students.

Niklas teaches in Kapriole for the last eight years. He is also a member of the Council of the European Democratic Education Community (EUDEC). In EUDEC schools are represented from all over Europe who are committed to the principle of self-directed learning and to the idea of a learning community based on equality and mutual respect.


15.00 – Session 3

Aideen O’Hara – Sligo School Project

Robert Hamm – Sligo School Project

Democracy and School – Teacher’s experiences in a tricky field of relationships

In a school setting various levels of relationships evolve amongst adults: parents, management, colleagues. Aideen and Robert will look at experiences that can be made on these levels and relate them to the term democracy. In a critical appraisal they will refer to concepts of democracy and adult relationships, and how they influence the everyday life in a school. Sligo School Project will be used as a constant point of reference in the presentation.

Aideen is a graduate from NUI Galway. She trained as a primary teacher at the University of Manchester. Aideen currently teaches 1st and 2nd class at Sligo School Project.

Robert is a member of the Executive Committee (Patron body) of SSP. In his most recent work he conducted a research project on reflection processes of teachers on rituals in schools.


Organisational details:

The symposium is open to all people who are interested in the topics presented. There is no participation fee (although donations are always welcome, schools are much underfunded at present …).

It is possible to attend one, two or all three sessions depending on your own interest.

There will be light refreshments (tea, coffee, sandwiches) available during breaks. We ask for a small financial contribution for consumption.

Childminding is available on request only. We cannot guarantee childminding for children who are not registered. Therefore, if you intend to bring your child with you on the day, you need to contact us latest by Wednesday, 15th of May, to register your child. For this purpose please ring 071 – 9150428. We ask for a contribution of € 5 for each child towards childminding.

Directions to Sligo School Project

If you like to get in touch with one of the presenters please refer to the contacts stated on their webpages. Alternatively you can send your request to soha2000@gmx.net and we pass it on.

Participants from outside Sligo: Your participation is more than welcome. Please send us a short note a few days in advance to let us know that you intend to participate in the symposium. We have a fair enough idea about participation from within our own circles, however if numbers are rising due to outside participants we would like to know so that we can prepare appropriate rooms for the sessions and also make sure that tea and coffee won’t run out on the day.