Re: DSM: When is a school a Sudbury Model school?
Wed, 13 Dec 2000 22:53:34 EST

Hi Jeanne,

This is Stuart Williams-Ley, a staff member at Cedarwood Sudbury School in
Santa Clara, CA. Yes, the Second Foundation School sounds a lot like a
Sudbury school. . . but from the web page I detect some significant
differences, and there may be others not apparent on the web page.

Here are a few differences:

--Second Foundation has a director. Although I cannot be sure of this from
the web page, my guess is that he has powers that are not subject to School
Meeting control. This was (and is) the case at Summerhill, too.

--Second Foundation has an explicit agenda for its students that includes
academic accomplishment. In order to carry out this agenda, the school must
have some sort of strategy to get people to do academics. This could involve
informal staff expectations or formal requirements. It apparently involves
someone, probably adults, deciding that certain hours are for play and other
hours are not. It also involves. . . .

. . . Staff evaluation of students (albeit "informal" ones instead of
grades), which Sudbury schools do not do.

--Second Foundation is to some degree based on the work of Jean Piaget.
Piaget specified what kinds of knowledge children of each age can and should
learn. Sudbury schools do not attempt to guide children into learning
"age-appropriate" things. We have no preconceptions about what children
should do.

Despite these differences, it sounds like Second Foundation has a fair amount
in common with Sudbury schools. At some point a school like Second Foundation
might decide to become a Sudbury school; that has happened a couple of times.
Once they decided to go down that route, they would feel internal pressure to
conform more closely to the model, as Joe suggested.

Take care,


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