More than just hands-on…
Sudbury model schools depend on self-paced, self-initiated deep learning. It is the kind of learning that doesn’t depend on bells or limits, but stretches across the day or even the academic year, and ultimately, across students’ lifetimes. There need not be an arbitrary end to the challenge, but instead students can see how one challenge leads to the next. Thus the natural inquiry associated with Sudbury schools situates problems in context, in history, and in geography. It enables deep understanding, critical thinking, questioning, and ultimately, significant learning. There are four key components to a democratic education: freedom, democracy, responsibility, and equality.
Sudbury students are free to choose how they spend their days. We believe in children’s innate curiosity, impulse to learn, and drive to become successful adults. We allow them the freedom and the ultimate responsibility to choose their curriculum. Our curriculum is the unlimited palette of life, from chess to gaming, chicken raising to mentoring younger students.
There are as many successful adult paths as there are curious children. We value all children’s paths. We respect and value all disciplines and learning endeavors. We offer a space for nontraditional pursuits as well as traditionally academic ones to exist alongside one another. We place a strong emphasis on self-evaluation, so we do not grade students but offer support when needed.
This video from the Sudbury Valley School gives an overview of what a typical day at a Sudbury school might look like:
Freedom must be balanced with responsibility to oneself, the community, humanity, and our environment. Our students will graduate into a representative democracy where they are already familiar with congressional rules of order because we use them during school meetings to vote on important aspects of school operation. Students will spend years at school voting, making the rules, enforcing them, and changing them when they become obsolete.
They will be active participants in democracy, become self-reliant, and have the confidence that comes with having a stake in the institutions that govern them and under which they live and learn. Socialization with people of all ages is another component of becoming part of a community and ultimately taking an adult role in society, building empathy, teamwork, compromise, and most of all, finding one’s own voice.
Self-evaluation, leadership, and problem solving are the by-products of participation. The support of a community and conflict resolution within that community are the stepping stones to independence, initiative, and innovation.
A DIFFERENT WAY
We are at the forefront of educational reform, offering key skills for a world in which our children are likely to hold many jobs, most of which do not yet exist. Young adults will need to know how to acquire new information, how to solve problems creatively, and resolve conflicts with others. We offer infinite practice in these skills; we offer the time, space, and community for students to live and learn!