I have seen many attempts to give students limited freedom in conventional
schools, and while these steps confer limited benefit upon students, I
shudder to see these schools compared to a Sudbury School.
I send my children to a Sudbury School for what the school allows them to
become, and while I originally based that assessment on the many graduates
of the schools to whom I have experienced, I now include in that the direct
experience of seeing my children and others blossom into Sudbury kids before
In all my experience with alternative schools, schools without walls, open
campus schools, etc., I see nothing that even remotely comes close to SM
schools, not only in terms of the program, but in the culture.
IMO, the absolute right of students to run the school is the magic bullet,
and anything else is just another school that doesn't belong to them.
Everything a child does in the school is orbiting around that fact; they
cannot excape it. And no matter what, if a student stays there long enough,
that fact will *force* her to confront the fact that any limitations placed
in front of her have come from within her.
As far as fear of the parent is concerned, where the movement is right now
is in a place where the word is still getting out to people who will
immediately see the school for what it is and be unconcerned with how the
model contrasts with other schools. The kind of people that will be
frightened merely because the school currently runs counter to our nation's
educational culture mindset are a) often not "keepers", and b) will feel
more comfortable in the future when they see hundreds of SM schools with
thousands of families of the former type, rather than dozens of schools with
a dozen families each.
The problem that the latter type families have is not a problem of the
school's, but a problem they have with the larger culture contrasting with
the school. And based on our experiences, it is a mistake for the school to
try and "fix" this problem (if it is even possible), as has been pointed out
repeatedly that these families tend not to stay and often try to hurt the
school upon their departure.
Additionally, I have never in my life heard of a school which gives
token/limited power to its students transitioning to actual democratic
> Dear Bill,
> > Mimsy Sadofsky, in one of the tapes, fields the question as to whether
> > could be a hybrid school, a school between what Sudbury Valley is and
> what a
> > traditional school is. My best answer is that no, they are really two
> > different things (the 2d and the 3d). They are orthogonal.
> A hybrid school. Is this one where:
> a) some of the kids that attend belong to the "free" part of it while
> the other half of the kids attend lessons as normal (and look out
> of the window to see the others wasting their time on the grass
> while they settle back into their chairs comfortable in the
> knowledge that they will certainly "make it")
> b) A regular school that provides more choice to it's students about
> what they do during the day
> I think we can all agree that the first is un-workable.
> But the second case I give a resounding Y-E-S . . . with provissions,
> the main one being that the school allows itself to move further in
> the direction (of, say, freedom, or back to traditional learning) as the
> system evolves and shows itself to be workable.
> Free schools frighten many people simply because they have no
> idea how it can all work. Having a "all or nothing", "take it or leave it"
> approach does nothing to bring the nervous on board.
> A sliding approach needs to be provided. Interestingly enough, it is my
> observation that the more extreme and regimented a school is, the
> more easily, smoothly and successfully the school can be "converted"
> Alexander Streater
> Message to fellow teachers
> Children learn inspite of us, not because of us!
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This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0.0 : Mon Nov 05 2001 - 20:24:29 EST