DSM: [SVS Discussion Board] Converting to Sudbury Model

Mon, 8 May 2000 07:54:40 -0400

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   MESSAGE: (#128) Converting to Sudbury Model
   AUTHOR: Tom Smith <tomsmith@laf.cioe.com>
   DATE: Monday, 8 May 2000, at 7:54 a.m.

The New Community School a parent-directed school in Lafayette that emphasizes
whole child development and individualized learning, but something is not
working. Currently we only go up to about age 11, and many of the older kids
who have been there for 5 or 6 years are sick of same kids, same building etc
and not coming back unless something changes. Some of the parents want a more
structured curriculum I have been encouraging parents and staff to consider
the Sudbury model. I have read Free At Last and The Sudbury Valley School
Experience. I have been very surprised by the number of people who have been
receptive to the idea. Our education committee has approved a transitional
model for next year because many people felt that there was insufficient time
to do the model justice for next year (in 4 months) Also this would give
parents more time to study the model. The transitional model includes some
"academic time" (2-3 hours fairly loosely defined) and the remainder
completely free choice. Also an effort will be made to "infuse" the school
with more democracy. In addition, one family has purchased a property (this is
what really got it going) on 7 acres about 1 1/2 miles out of W. Lafayette for
the explicit purpose of leasing it to the school. It has a nice house on it
that the school could use. Now my questions: Has any tried a transitional
model with the express purpose of preparing the way for a Sudbury model? The
catchment area for the school (those within a half hour drive) is only about
100,000 people. Is this enough to support this model? I have been hearing that
the Sudbury model schools are run by the older kids and the little ones join
in when they have issues that pertain to them. Are our kids old enough? The
recommendation of the education committee called for expanding the school up
to "8th grade" partly to pull in some older kids. I have arranged for 1 adult
and 2 kids to visit Fairhaven and 5 people will be going to The Liberty Valley
School. We will be screening The 25th Anniversary Retrospective followed by an
open discussion of the Sudbury Model in 2 weeks. Any more ideas about ways to
inform people about the model? People seem excited but leery. Should be bring
it up to high school age? and if so how soon? What are the legal questions?
One of our struggles over the years has been working in a vacuum, so I invite
anyone with thoughts or comments of support to post a note or write me at my
email address. Thanks.


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