In 1999, Prof. Sugata Mitra had asked his employees to tear a big hole in the wall that separated his offices from the neighboring overcrowded slum. In its place an internet station was installed – a permanent gear that included a touch-screen computer and free internet connection. The idea was to enable the kids and teens of the impoverished neighborhood to come in direct and uninterrupted contact with the new technology, without any guidance or supervision. The station became immediate success among the neighborhood’s residents, and mainly among the kids, who began using the computer without any pre-training. Within hours, the kids started to surf the internet. Since then, the Hole in The Wall Project has gained momentum and spread out to additional cities, becoming a well-known project that generated worldwide astonishment. Is it possible that kids without any guidance or previous knowledge can gain entry into new worlds of knowledge, if provided with the appropriate conditions?
Following these experiences, Prof. Mitra developed the SOLE (Self Organized Learning Environment) which operates and develops in Newcastle University in the UK. The SOLE is an environment which is based on asking “Big Questions” and on initiating shared research and learning. Mitra describes how kids, without any guidance, move in a very short time frame, from a chaotic activity to an organized, exhaustive and creative learning. The only one thing that has been added is the “Granny” – a supporting and encouraging adult who does not interfere with the learning process and contents at all, and only creates a warm and supportive environment.
Another issue which is being promoted and developed by Prof. Mitra today is – tests with open internet. He believes that the meaningful change in education will transpire only when assessment methods are changed. Tests with open internet will lead to a crucial change in the structure of school curricula, and to completely new perceptions on what should be learned and how.
In addition to the development of bold and innovative methods of action that change education systems in the 21st century, prof. Mitra specializes in asking questions that challenge everything that has been clear and obvious for hundreds of years. He is calling for reevaluation of the fundamental education curricula – is reading, writing, and mathematics still constitute the basis for everything?
He is proposing to examine three new fundamental subjects, which might address the needs of the new era in a much more relevant way – understanding (the ability to communicate as a basis for cooperation), cooperating (networking – the ability to work in a network); and computing (the ability to understand and develop computer strategies).
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.
In 2010, Hecht founded “Education Cities – the Art of Collaborations” an organization that promotes collaboration and networking in the classroom, in the school, in the city, in the country and in the world.
WIRED magazine has selected the MOOC learning model of Education Cities as one of the leading trends in 2015.
Yaacov Hecht has served as an advisor to Ministers of Education in Israel, both past and present, as an expert in creating connections and interfacing between the state and alternative education.
Yaacov is a distinguished and sought after speaker around the world, and lectures on issues that are close to his heart: artificial intelligence, social networks, Big Data, Disruptive Innovation, Augmented reality, and the ways these issues influence our life.
Yaacov regards the preparing and directing of the educational system towards the future as his main mission today.
Sir Ken Robinson has been named as one of Time/Fortune/CNN’s ‘Principal Voices’. He was acclaimed by Fast Company magazine as one of “the world’s elite thinkers on creativity and innovation” and was ranked in the Thinkers50 list of the world’s top business thinkers. In 2003, he received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for his services to the arts.
His book The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything (Penguin/Viking, 2009) is a New York Times bestseller. It has been translated into 23 languages and has sold over a million copies worldwide. A 10th anniversary edition of his classic work on creativity and innovation, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative was published in 2011. Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life (Viking, 2013), also a New York Times bestseller, is the acclaimed companion to the Element, and provides readers with a practical guide to finding and developing their own talents and vocations. His latest book, Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education (Viking, 2015), tackles the critical issue of how to transform the world’s troubled educational systems and is now available in 15 languages.
Ana Yris Guzmán Torres is Executive President of Nuestra Escuela (Our School), a nonprofit organization founded in the year 2000 with her husband and educator, Justo Méndez Arámburu. Nuestra Escuela offers alternative and democratic education for teens and adults, from marginalized communities in the island of Puerto Rico, who have left school without obtaining their high school diploma.
The organization has several educational centers in the country, and is recognized as a national and international reference for the alternative education movement. With a strong international presence, Nuestra Escuela hosted the 20th IDEC Conference in 2012, has sister school in Nairobi, Kenia, named Shule Yetu, and is founder of the Encuentro de Nuestra América (Gathering of Our America) conference.
Being able to work and participate in the creation of a new education model that meets the talents and needs of children and young people is for Ana Yris her greatest inspiration. She is a solid defender of public education, sharing practices, experiences and ideas with Puerto Rico’s public education system, universities and policy makers.
Peter Gray, Ph.D., research professor at Boston College, is author of Freedom to Learn (Basic Books, 2013) and Psychology (Worth Publishers, a college textbook now in its 7th edition). He has conducted and published research in comparative, evolutionary, developmental, and educational psychology. He did his undergraduate study at Columbia University and earned a Ph.D. in biological sciences at Rockefeller University. His current research and writing focus primarily on children’s natural ways of learning and the life-long value of play. His own play includes not only his research and writing, but also long distance bicycling, kayaking, back-woods skiing, and vegetable gardening.
“Children come into the world with instinctive drives to educate themselves. These include the drives to play and explore”. Peter Gray, in his blog in Psychology Today, talks about these drives and ways by which we could create learning environments that optimize rather than suppress them.
Mr. Henry Readhead, A.S.Neill’s grandson, was a Summerhill student and years later a music teacher at the Summerhill school in Suffolk, UK. Today he is running the school and is a very sought after speaker all over the world, telling the unique story of the oldest and first free school.
Summerhill is a democratic, self-governing school in which the adults and children have equal status. The daily life of the school is governed by the school Meetings, usually held twice a week in which everybody has an equal vote. The school’s philosophy is to allow freedom for the individual – each child being able take their own path in life, and following their own interests to develop into the person that they personally feel that they are meant to be.
Mr Jerry Mintz has been a leading voice in the alternative school movement for over 30 years. In addition to his seventeen years as a public and independent alternative school principal and teacher, he has also helped found more than fifty public and private alternative schools and organizations. He has lectured and consulted in more than twenty-five countries around the world. In 1989, he founded the Alternative Education Resource Organization and has helped found over 50 alternative schools and organizations. He has been on National Public Radio, the major TV networks, in The New York Times, Newsday, and many other publications. He was Editor-in-Chief for the Handbook of Alternative Education, and the Almanac of Education Choices. He is the author of No Homework and Recess All Day: How to Have Freedom and Democracy in Education and editor of Turning Points: 35 Visionaries in Education Tell Their Own Stories.
Marko got interested in educational change through reading the Summerhill book over 20 years ago. He applied to the Helsinki University teacher education in order to be able to influence how teachers are educated. After half a year of studies, as a student he initiated a project, which ended up becoming an alternative teacher education line at the University. After the new teacher education was started, he began visiting various democratic schools around the world in order to start his own school in Finland.
In 2005 Marko started the first democratic school in Finland, called Phoenix School (Feeniks-koulu in Finnish). It was a small experimental school which ran for three years. During this experience Marko got many requests from people around Finland if they could join the school online. So, in 2009 Marko started planning the Phoenix School Online, which opened in 2011 and is still running.
In 2016 Marko hosted the IDEC@EUDEC conference in Finland. During the preparations for the conference Marko started a school/learning center in Pakistan together with a local STEP-organization aimed for the slum area children who don’t have access to schools or education. In June 2016 Marko and the STEP-organization started the second center and now they’re planning a third one. The centers are open in the evenings, since many of the children need to work during day time. There are laptop computers with good Internet connection available for the students so they can teach themselves in small groups. In both centers there is one voluntary teacher/tutor who helps the students to get started.
Lasse Leponiemi is Partner and Chief Operating Officer at HundrED.org. HundrED seeks and shares 100 inspiring innovations in K12 education worldwide every year. Lasse has been working with youth education and career planning since 2003. Currently he is focusing on how to help teachers to implement HundrED innovations across the world. He is leading the innovator support functions and hundred.org platform development to serve HundrED network of teachers and innovators. As a part of HundrED he has been developing and implementing education innovations such as Triplet News, Campus Seminars, Xprt application and many others. As a hobby he has been building NGO Mentors of Finland. The non-profit organization mentors unemployed young people free-of-charge to find a job. The organization helps annually 700 young people with the 87% success rate. Earlier Lasse co-founded at the age of 23 an e-student counseling service whose clientele included everyone in Finland that was interested in university studies, reaching over 100.000 students monthly. After 2012 Lasse has been focusing on working with HundrED related innovations. About HundrED: HundrED is a non-profit company initially started in Finland, but has now grown global to seek and share inspiring innovations in K12 education worldwide. HundrED aims not only to make innovations and good practices spread between teachers and schools, but also between countries. More information: www.hundred.org
https://twitter.com/hundred_en Linkedin: https://fi.linkedin.com/in/lasseleponiemi Www: www.hundred.org
Education consultant, was a Special Advisor to the Minister of Education of Brazil. Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Sao Paulo, with a post-doctorate in Education from the University of Campinas. Singer was visiting scholar at Coimbra University (Portugal) and University of Pennsilvania (USA). Author of books and articles on education and human rights published in Brazil and abroad.
Kageki Asakura is working both in practices and in the study of democratic education. He has worked at the oldest free democratic school in Japan and founded the first Japanese democratic university, Shure University. Asakura is Dean there. He has been an active member of IDEC for two decades. Kageki studies and writes about democratic education, history of education and ethnography of youth. He is an also leading scholar of “self-ology”, a study about the self and by the self.
Yotam started working at the IDE in 2007, following an extensive military career as a pilot in the Israeli Air Force and as a Project Manager in a multimedia company.
Yotam holds a BA in History and Philosophy and an MA in Education. His educational and social roots are based on his childhood on a kibbutz and his years of community service working with at-risk children in the Negev which he continued to deal with during his military service.
Yotam’s decision to leave his career as a pilot and move into the world of social change stemmed from a genuine desire to influence this arena and strengthen Israeli society as a democratic, egalitarian and just society.
Yotam brings integrated capabilities, experience in initiative education, systemic and strategic thinking as well as management skills. Since his appointment as Co-Executive Director together with Michal, the IDE is undergoing significant specialization processes, creating new organizational infrastructures, entering new areas of social activities and working with new populations in Israel.
Avshalom was born and raised Haifa, Israel. He served as an artillery officer in the Israeli army and then perused a career in the high tech industry as a software engineer in two start-up companies. In 2007, Avshalom decided to move into the education sector and took part in founding the MEA educational program in Alon high school. Avshalom earned a bachelor degree in computer science at the IDC center in Herzelia and in 2015 a master’s degree in educational leadership at the University of Pennsylvania. At the University of Pennsylvania Avshalom researched the influence of schools’ structure and culture on the development of personality traits that promote success in life at the 21st century.
Since 2015 Avshalom is the head teacher of the Democratic school of Hadera. The Democratic school of Hadera facilitates an educational environment that consists of personal freedom for each student, partnership in school governance, interest based learning and one on one mentoring. At Hadera, Avshalom aims to support each teacher in his journey as an educational entrepreneur and each student in his journey to develop the personality traits and capabilities that leads to a happy and successful life.
Avshalom is happily married to Anat and is the proud father of Aviah and Yochai.
Ran has been involved with ECE his entire adult life, he holds a Master’s degree in Education from Ben Gurion University, where he specialized in curricula and teaching. More recently, at the Ofek Institute in Tel Aviv, he studied Organizational Consulting and Development using a psychoanalytical-systemic approach. He has earned his B.Ed. in Early Childhood Education at HOFEN- the Open and Experimental Education Institute at the David Yellin Academic College of Education in Jerusalem.
Ran is an entrepreneur in education; he partnered in the establishment of the ‘Kessem’ environmental open school and established his own network of progressive preschools and ECE training programs.
Ran is also an artist, he has written six children’s books and two children’s music albums, which are the basis for a TV series to be broadcast this December.
Two children’s plays based on his books were performed at the Mediatech Theater in Holon, and one of them (Hannke and Fiet), won the Israeli prize for best children’s theatre play.
Ran has been working at the IDE since 2008, and over the past six years has developed and directed its ECE department. Currently, together with his co-director Noa Shefi, they are striving to lead a change through implementation of both a democratic culture and 21st century skills in the ECE system in Israel and abroad..
Noa Shefi – Co- Director of Early Childhood Education Dept.
Noa started working in an ECE framework teaching drama and creative play. As a B.A. graduate of Community-based Theatre, she promoted acting and playing in preschool as a tool for actualizing initiative, critical thinking and self-expression.
Observing young children attempting to use drama, Noa continued her studies and completed her M.A. in Art Therapy at Haifa University.
For over 10 years, Noa work as an individual and group therapist in private and public institutions.
In 2007, she joined the Institute for Democratic Education and worked in various roles including training B.E.D students in Democratic Education and provided personal and group mentoring in educational institutes.
Three years ago, she joined Ran Cohen-Harounoff in directing the ECE department at the IDE.
Co-founder and partner principal of the democratic communal school “Givol” in Givat Olga, Hadera
A researcher, author and corporate lecturer with expertise in developing creativity and leadership skills. His post-doctorate focuses on developing new models for enhancing creativity, resourcefulness and self-worth among children and teens. He has served as head-consultant to the Israeli government’s division of gifted and outstanding students. He is the head of the “Creativity in Action” program at the IDC (Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya), as well as a lecturer in the School of Psychology and the School of Communication there. Dr. Doron has also worked with leading companies in Israel and abroad on addressing the following issues: Creative intelligence, Problem Solving in Uncertain Times and Creative Leadership Skills.
Lior Zoref is a writer, a speaker, and a researcher.
He first started studying the phenomenon of the Wisdom of Crowds when he worked on his doctoral dissertation after serving in several management positions in Microsoft.
His friends on Facebook have encouraged him to pursue his dreams and suggested that he recreates, in the prestigious TED conference, the first crowd wisdom experiment which was originally conducted a century ago.
Zoref arrived at the conference in California, brought a huge ox onto the stage, and asked the audience to guess its weight. The average weight calculated from tallying the hundreds of guesses was almost a perfect match with the actual weight.
This lecture kick-started Zorefs career as an international consultant and speaker, and led to the publication his internationally acclaimed book Mindsharing which has been published in many languages.
Graduate of the Mandel School for Educational Leadership, BA in General Literature and Theater History from Tel Aviv University and a MA in Public Policy from Tel Aviv University.
Michal previously managed the Incubator for Volunteer Initiatives for Youth of the National Council for Volunteering in Israel, was involved in the development and implementation of content as a Senior Instructor at the Rabin Center for Israel Studies, and was also the principal of the Democratic School of the Ono Valley.
Michal started working at the IDE since 2006. She brings to her role as Co-Executive Director in-depth management experience and intensive social democratic thinking which she is trying to implement and apply in Israeli society, together with Yotam, her Co-Executive Director. In addition, they are applying this method of thinking to day to day life in the IDE in a manner demonstrating the uniqueness of the organization which is managed and operates democratically, while acting in a responsible manner to ensure the existence and economic independence of the organization.