IDEC2006 was held in Sydney and hosted by AAPAE (now ADEC).

IDEC 2006 logoThe general theme of IDEC2006 was DEMOCRACY! WHAT’S NEXT?

This was a challenging question about what form and in what direction democratic education will take in the future, initiating change to enable sustainable learning and living. If we see democracy as the first step what would be the next steps?

IDEC2006 provided an opportunity for Australia to witness and celebrate the diversity of programs and projects in democratic education that exist throughout the world, and to destroy the myth that examples of child participation and natural models of learning are few and far between.

In Australia, as in many other countries, school refusal, disengagement with learning and schools, trouble with families, police and the law, issues of drugs and alcohol, racism, living in poverty, mental illness and suicide are part of many young people’s lives despite our general high level of economic and educational prosperity.

Alienation from political and decision-making processes, even when the decisions directly impact on their lives, is also a significant experience for many. It is ironic that at the time many are recognising the central value and role of student- centred, participatory education, the general trend in Australian Education is towards a controlled, regulated, one-size-fits-all, heavily scrutinised, tested and centralised system.

IDEC 2006 was an important opportunity to highlight the advantages of a different approach.

IDEC2006 took up the theme of the UNESCO Decade for Education for Sustainable Development (DESD), running from 2005 – 2015.

UNESCO wanted to create what it sees as ‘a new vision’ of education, which respects the dignity of everyone’s human rights and gives a commitment to social and economic justice for all. It involves a commitment to intergenerational responsibility, respect and care for the diversity of earth’s ecosystems and the desire to build a culture of tolerance, non-violence and peace.

At IDEC2006 we had a conversation and built partnerships between democratic educators and those passionate about education for sustainable development. Sustainability means creating a healthy future. To quote UNESCO, “Sustainability is more about new ways of thinking than about science or ecology. Whilst it involves the natural sciences and economics, it is primarily a matter of culture. It is concerned with the values people cherish and the way we perceive our relationships with the natural world.”

As with Democratic Education, it puts people at the heart of the decision-making processes and leads to personal transformation and new social structures in the communities in which they live. Through living democracy and sustainability we learn them. This conference offered the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills for self-empowerment, lifelong learning and individually and communally sustainable lives.

Evaluation Report (PDF) of IDEC2006.