DSM: Sudbury Schools in an Urban setting

Wed, 31 Jan 2001 12:57:42 EST

Robert at Cedarwood responding to Stuart, below:

<<<< This is Stuart Williams-Ley at Cedarwood Sudbury School in Santa Clara,
responding to Cindy K's question:

<< For those of you with schools, do
> you find that the country setting lures them or sends them away? Are
> there any schools with no space for the kids and how well have they
> done? >>

Cedarwood is located in an urban, middle-class residential area, a couple of
blocks from a main commercial street. We have chosen a location that is
relatively central rather than a rural location that would be distant from
many of our families. For some of us, the choice is a reluctant one, as we
would love to have better access to nature. However, even without creeks, big
rocks, etc., our students generally find plenty of things to do.

Stuart >>>>

While I trust Stuart knows in what sense Santa Clara is an ""urban area",
even with the modifiers "middle-class," and "residential," I think his
description belies our actual setting. We are not located in a bucolic
"country" scene by any stretch. But, neither is Santa Clara a bustling city.
Nor does it benefit from the sense of "neighborhood" that can imbue smaller
communities. We are in the middle of a giant span of suburban sprawl that
has sprung up around silicon valley industry. Nobody's first choice, when
dreaming up locales. But, as Stuart says, we are located centrally tou our
students' families.

Still, as a person in the model who feels a strong commitment to cities and
city-kids, I long to see Sudbury schools in true "urban settings." Cities
have much unexplored potential to offer Sudbury schools, in terms of spaces
to be, and explore. Granted there is something about nature and time to be
in it, that can be synergetic with the exploration of self undertaken by many
in the model. But what about city living? In addition to the museums and
parks, and restaurants, and zoos, (etc.) there are thousands of people to
encounter, interact with and learn from, on any given day. Certainly, in
terms of educational environment, what cities lack in some areas, they could
more than make up for in others. And given the desperate plight of many city
school systems (in the U.S. at least,) I find it hard to imagine a sudbury
school in a true urban setting would have difficulty attracting a critical
(tired, poor, huddled?) mass of students, yearning to breathe free.

In any event, the real treasure of these schools is the freedom to explore
the space between one's own ears.
By that measure, I'd say that Cedarwood students do about as well as any.


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