Re: some questions regarding the SVS model vs traditional schooling
Fri, 22 Nov 1996 15:17:11 -0500

You wrote:
i am a 16 year old in medford, ma, and i am interested in going to
sudbury valley (once i get through various constraints, economic and

i have had several discussions with my therapist -- who also runs a
special needs school and does several other things (her life is a bit
hectic:) -- about SVS..
i explained to her the ideas behind SVS, and she has expressed disbelief
that the concept can work.
all of the people she has talked to about the school have spoken about
it in a negative way..
some of what she heard was that SVS teaches the bright students, while
letting others "fall by the wayside," and that graduates of SVS "don't
know how to write a term paper."

basically, what i would like to know from the members of this list is:

in your experiance with SVS-model schools, is above average
intelligence/creativity required to succeed? do these schools fail to
effectively educate students who are less intelligent or academic?

are graduates of SVS-model schools able to cope with the demands of
college and the workplace better/worse/the-same/just-differantly than
students of traditional schools?

i would appreciate any ideas you have about these, or other aspects of
the success of the SVS model relative to traditional schooling...
...even if you don't feel they are appropriate to distribute to the
list, i.e. if the topic has been covered here before (which i imagine it
might have been), i would appreciate comments/replies at :)


So hello.
24 years ago I was a sixteen year old at SVS. I stayed two years, colored in
the boxes during the SATs, defended my thesis successfully and went on to a
college or two, for what that's worth. I have always been able to write a
term paper (although I've forgotten what one is).
I would ask: Does your therapist have direct experience of SVS? Do the people
she has talked to about the school also have direct experience?
Then, if you have the opportunity to question the source of this
information/speculation, listen carefully. What are their definitions? Is
"above average intelligence" necessarily a virtue, and necessary to a good
life? What if a trade by which you can earn a living brings you joy? Is it
_better_ to graduate from college? By whose standard? Is learning academics
more important than growing up neurologically sound?
And what are your own definitions? What is above average intelligence and
creativity? What is success? Is a non-academic, happy, gainfully employed,
creative person _not_ a success in the world?
I left SVS (too soon, most likely, but by my own choice), found college to be
entirely uninteresting, fell into a trade I loved, served many, many
"apprenticeships" in the work-world, and got paid for it. (Now I'm a
dinosaur, but that's another story to be told another time.) Speaking from
only my experience, I coped with the workplace much better than the students
of traditional schools - wanting to work until the job is done, not leave it
because the clock tells me to. I signed on as a freelancer whenever I could
to relieve management of having to pay "overtime." (I was naive enough to be
shocked to learn that production increases when overtime wages are paid.) I
have yet to "end" my education.
Visit SVS. (It does work.) Examine carefully your own beliefs. Enroll if you
can and you will be exposed to other ways of thinking and being, and most
important, you will be given the chance to hear yourself, who is, after all,
the one you have to please.