Democratic Education
Conference 2016
亞太民主教育年會 in TAIWAN
July 18 - July 24


IDEC 2015 in New Zealand

Keynote Speeches

As the inaugural Asia-Pacific Democratic Education Conference, we will be offering a comprehensive introduction and discussion regarding democratic education. With visitors from democratic schools around the world, founders of alternative education groups, well-known experts on education and psychology, and Taiwanese pioneers for education reform, we have invited several distinguished individuals to give keynote speeches. We believe they will provide important context regarding the historical development of democratic education in both the East and the West.

Keynote Speeches Peter Gray
Author Peter Gray is a research professor of psychology at Boston College, and writes the popular "Freedom to Learn" blog in Psychology Today. His introductory textbook Psychology is now in its sixth edition, and is the most commonly designated textbook in the Ivy Leagues. Gray is frequently invited to speak on television as an expert on childhood development, and he's been featured on NPR, The Today Show, CNN International, and other programs. His works are also often cited in newspapers and magazines, including The New Yorker and the Boston Globe.

Keynote Speeches Simon Hulshoff
Netherlands (EUDEC Representative)
(Simon’s self-introduction) I started getting involved with Democratic Education when I went to a Sudbury school (in the Netherlands) at the age of 16. Soon after I learned about European Democratic Education Community (EUDEC) where I have been working as a council member for 5 years now. My interests are broad but my useful skills are web design and building project management tools. So I made the public EUDEC website, manage the bookkeeping and help with the daily work. Over the years I learned to know many people who are involved in Democratic Education, so feel free to connect.

Keynote Speeches Amukta Mahapatra
  • Director, SchoolScape Centre for Educators
  • Formerly founder-principal of Abacus Montessori School
  • Educational adviser to the state of Tamil Nadu
  • 2003 - 2004 Educational Consultant to UNICEF for development of Quality Package
  • Organiser of the 2004 IDEC in Bhubaneshwar
  • Keynote Speaker of 2011 [email protected] in England

Keynote Speeches Fong, Tsao-Lin 馮朝霖
  • Founder, President of Formosa Alternative Pedagogy Association
  • Professor of Education at National Chengchi University; Principal of Hsin-Chuang Community University
  • Chief Editor of Alternative Pedagogy
  • Former Chairman of National Chengchi University Graduate Institute of Early Childhood Education
  • Former Chair of Education Department at National Chengchi University

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

—Mark Twain


IDEC 2015 in New Zealnd

Open Space

APDEC 2016 uses the Open Space Conference format used in IDEC and EUDEC meetings past. Besides one or two keynote speeches each morning, most time segments are open for usage by participants to share their own issues and experiences in workshops, discussions, forums, and other formats. Register with the APDEC organizers, and we will take care of posters and space.

Examples of OpenSpace discussion topics:

  • Sharing about student government, student councils, and other aspects of democratic schools

  • How to start a school?

  • In a "learner-oriented" school, what role do instructors and teachers play? What's the ideal relationship between students and teachers?

  • Pros and cons of boarding schools (related discussion: why are there so few "democratic education boarding schools"?)

  • Utilizing connections at APDEC for student and teacher exchange

  • How does someone lead a child to become a free person (democratic, mutually respective) without similar experiences of his own?

  • What is the definition of "danger" in an educational environment? What is appropriate intervention?

  • It sounds great in theory, but do I (as a child) have the right to say "no"?

  • "Where are you now?" sharing about life after graduation

  • Why does attendance at this kind of school often lead to a household revolution?

  • I hope Taiwan can hold this kind of conference every year, how can I make that happen?

  • Is there inherent conflict between democratic education and knowledge-based education?

  • What does mountain climbing have to do with education?

  • What's the best way to promote the spirit of democratic education?

  • What's the biggest difference between children educated in democratic and traditional schools? Where does this difference come from?

  • What parts of traditional education need to be changed, and what needs to be preserved?

  • Value judgments in education

  • The best way to implement sex education

  • Proper limits for video games?

  • The definition and fine line between bullying and pranks

  • What's a good way to start a book club with the spirit of democratic education?

  • Exchange of sports, culture, and games

"Democratic education is education in which teachers and learners work together as equals."

—David Gribble

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Miao-Li County Holistic Education School


No.141-3, Neiwan, Zhuolan Township,
Miaoli County 369, Taiwan

Holistic is located in the mountains in northern Taiwan, about 500 meters above sea level. It is surrounded by fruit orchards and temperate forests filled with all sorts of wildlife. The school campus is roughly divided into two areas. The first (comprised of buildings A and B) has neighborhood homes, the girl's dormitory, a basketball court, kitchens, cafeteria, and climbing center. The second area (comprised of buildings C through E) is the main classroom area, with a library and boy's dormitory. They are connected by a small path cutting through the forest.

Google map:

Sunrise during July is roughly 5:20, and sunset is at 6:50. Please have a flashlight ready for nighttime events. The weather averages 80% humidity, so we recommend comfortable clothes that are easy to wash and dry quickly. Expect temperatures around 22-30 degrees Celsius. A light jacket for morning or evening activities is great to have, and will also be helpful for mosquitoes.

As the school is surrounded on all sides by fruit orchards, it is filled with all sorts of wildlife that share the space with us. During the daytime we can see birds, lizards, and all sorts of insects. At night, frogs, snakes, and mammals begin to emerge. The most dangerous creatures to look out for are poisonous snakes. However, they do not actively attack people, so all you need to do is maintain a safe distance. They often appear around water sources at night, or where there are frogs. Please be sure to use a flashlight when traversing paths at night time to avoid them.

"[Democratic education stems from] a free and expressive dialogue with no rules, no conventions, just honesty and sometimes bluntness."

—Jessica Cawston

-400 days to Asian-Pacific Democratic Education Conference 2016