For the Love of Learning – The World of Democratic Schools – #50


Show Title:

For the Love of Learning Episode 50

The World of Democratic Schools

Monday February 8, 2015  8:00 pm – 10:00 pm EST
Tuesday February 9, 2015 1:00 am – 3:00 am GMT


Yaacov Hecht
Missa Gallivan
Christoph Schuhmann

Just what are Democratic Schools?

According to the Alternativeness Education Resource Organization, (or AERO), “There is no monolithic definition of democratic education or democratic schools. But what we mean here is “education in which young people have the freedom to organize their daily activities, and in which there is equality and democratic decision-making among young people and adults.”

Democratic schools take many forms and include public and private alternatives and homeschool resource centers.

In essence, Democratic education is an educational ideal in which democracy is both a goal and a method of learning. It brings democratic values to education and can include self-determination within a community of equals, as well as such values as justice, respect and trust.

Tonight we will explore these ideas and more from a former student, a democratic school founder and a documentary film maker.


Yaacov Hecht

YaacovIn 1987, Yaacov Hecht founded in Hadera, Israel, the first school in the world to call itself democratic.
Then he helped to establish a net of democratic schools all over Israel.

In 1993, he convened IDEC; an annual international conference that is taking place, every year since then, in a different country all over the world. IDEC has been the motivation source of the growth of an international movement that includes more than – 1000 democratic schools in – 45 countries.

In 1996 Hecht founded the Institute for Democratic Education in Israel (IDE), which focuses on making change in the public schools system through democratic education principals. Within IDE, Hecht created an academic faculty for DE teachers, which operates in one of Israel’s largest academic institutes.

In 2005 he published his book “Democratic Education – a beginning of a story”.

In 2010, Hecht founded Education Cities that is developing the art of collaborations and educational innovation in the cities, regional councils, and organizations it works with.
WIRED magazine has chosen Education Cities’ MOOC learning model to one of the leading trends in 2015.

Yaacov has served as an advisor to a few Israeli Ministers of Education. He gives lectures and workshops all over the world.


Missa Gallivan

MissaMissa Gallivan is a graduate of Alpine Valley School, a democratic school located in Denver, Colorado. After a ten-year career in project management she returned to Alpine Valley School, this time as a staff member. In addition to her work at the school Missa is also a writer, photographer, and mother of three amazing kids. You can read more of her work at and find out more about Alpine Valley School at


Christoph Schuhmann

ChristophChristoph Schuhmann teaches Physics and Computer Science in northern Germany. He finished his scientific studies within half of the regular time and is currently studying psychology.

In his lessons, he once asked his students, “What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘Learning’?”. The answers he got involved words like, ‘duty’, ‘boredom’, ‘annoyance’ and ‘burden’. Even students with good grades told him that learning was an exhausting process; that they only do it for the sake of grades. Not one of the students seemed to “enjoy learning”. Christoph was shocked. He wondered how we could unfold and sustain the natural curiosity that we observe in young children in their kindergarten age.

He reduced his work load and followed his passion for psychology. He read many books about learning, curiosity and concepts of education, which led him on his quest to discover schools with innovative concepts, where children love to go to and truly love to learn. While traveling to these schools, he decided to make a documentary about it.



Lainie Liberti

As always, you can find out more about your host, Lainie Liberti at her website and the alternative education & world schooling project she runs with her teenage son at: You can also connect with her on twitter @ilainie & facebook.

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