ne of the
things most adults notice first about Sudbury Valley is the ease of communication.
People, no matter what their age, treat each other with easy respect.
There is a comfortable air of self-confidence, the confidence typical
of individuals pursuing the goals they set for themselves. Things are
almost never quiet, and the atmosphere is electric with enthusiasm, but
not chaotic or frenetic. Visitors speak of feeling a certain order, even
though it is clearly a place full of intense activity.
The students at Sudbury Valley are doing what they want, but they are
not necessarily choosing what comes easily. A closer look reveals that
they are always challenging themselves; that they are acutely aware of
their own weaknesses and strengths, and likely to be working hardest on
their weaknesses. Along with their ebullient good spirits, there is an
underlying seriousness -- even the six-year-olds know that they, and only
they, are responsible for their education. They have been given the gift
of tremendous trust, and they understand that this gift is as big a responsibility
as it is a delight. They are acutely aware that it is very unusual for
young people to be given this much freedom or this much responsibility.
Growing up shouldering this responsibility gives them confidence in their
own abilities -- they get a "track record". Self-motivation
is never a question; that's all there is.
Although the school has no curriculum, the reality is that most students
develop many valuable tools that will be useful to them as adults. They
learn how to concentrate. They learn to ponder ethical questions. They
learn to ask for what they want, and strive to get it. They learn how
to try something and relish success, and they learn how to try something
and fail at it -- and try again.
They learn to know themselves.
Beyond the description lies the reality of the school: a place where freedom
is cherished, where mutual respect is the norm, where children and adults
are comfortable with each other, where learning is integrated into life.
Our bright, open, lively students are the best evidence of the school's