Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Newspaper Article Mountain Laurel Sudbury School

From: Ann Ide <ann.ide_at_rcn.com>
Date: Thu Jul 15 21:07:00 2004

Yea, good point. I think one term for that is "cognitive dissonance":
convincing ourselves that what we are doing is right...because that feels
better than confronting the possibility that what we are doing isn't right !
We all do it ! I do it all the time with Sudbury Valley, too ! Hey, we're
just human.

I realize, too, and experience, that many people just aren't going to "get"
what we "get". All I can do is at least try to get them to understand what
my beliefs and concerns are regarding my childrens' education. They don't
have to agree; but it will be the framework from which I answer their
questions. Sometimes I'm lucky :) .

Ann
----- Original Message -----
From: "Karen Locke" <klocke_at_mn.rr.com>
To: <discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org>
Sent: Thursday, July 15, 2004 8:37 PM
Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Newspaper Article Mountain Laurel
Sudbury School

> I appreciated very much both Carol and Ann's points.
>
> I once heard someone say that you should never let someone from the old
> paradigm judge something of the new. In that case they were talking
about
> charter schools, which have contracts with traditional institutions and
then
> have to prove that they're doing a good job every few years---to their
> competition!
>
> I think we can always offer a new framework for thinking, but I'm not
> surprised any more when others don't see it that way. Or at least I try
not
> to be. They often have a lot invested in the alternative; a career, a
child
> they've pushed through the current system, a sense that at least something
> needs to stay stable in this messed-up world.
>
> I'm glad I'm back on this board and hearing about things from this point
of
> view. Thanks for sharing.
>
> Karen Locke
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Carol Hughes" <hughes0005_at_comcast.net>
> To: <discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org>
> Sent: Tuesday, July 13, 2004 8:04 AM
> Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Newspaper Article Mountain Laurel
> Sudbury School
>
>
> > Okay everyone,
> > I sent the letter to the Courant. I was going to re-write it to be ever
> so
> > tactful, but David's comment reminded me how much the media loves
conflict
> > so what the heck. I sent it as is.
> >
> > November of 2003 I sent the following letter to the San Francisco
> Chronicle.
> >
> > So, this is me agreeing that letters put out there may make a
difference.
> > Anyone going to join me?
> > Carol
> >
> > Hi Jason,
> > I read your article with interest. My three children attended Sudbury
> > Valley School in Massachusetts for 15 years. It is always a certain
irony
> > to me that articles about Sudbury schools necessitate a comment from
> > traditional educators as to the validity of these methods. Would you,
if
> > doing an article about writers, consult a novelist for their opinion
> > regarding methodology in writing for the press? Time and again the
> opinions
> > expressed by traditional teachers/administrators are based on cursory
> > information at best. I am curious how much exposure and knowledge
Shepard
> > has first hand about a Sudbury Model. The reservations are expressed
> based
> > on what?
> >
> > Shepard said school staff would have to take extra care to ensure that
> > students do not shy away from subjects they may not like." I would want
to
> > see to what extent they pursue interests over time,'' said Shepard. "Can
> > they choose not to involve themselves in math and science? That could be
a
> > problem.'' Tis a myth, it seems to me, that students who do not have an
> > interest in a subject will over time get interested, if forced to study
a
> > subject. Everyone has a subject that doesn't interest them. This kind
of
> > quote simply shows a mindset which is looking for the Sudbury Model to
be
> > accomplishing the same goals as a traditional school. Wrong measuring
> > stick!
> >
> > The problems with modern day schools, in my opinion, stem from a fixed
> idea
> > of the educational model. I feel passionately that we must all take a
> good
> > hard look at they quality of students being produced by traditional
> models.
> > The media can take a very positive role here if they would also try on
new
> > methods of observation when viewing something different from the typical
> > mainstream existence. Wouldn't it be grand if the media asked for input
> > from those of us knowledgeable about alternative means of approaching
> > education whenever there is an article about traditional schools?
> >
> > Thanks for listening,
> > Carol Hughes
> >
> >
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Mike Sadofsky" <sadofsky_at_comcast.net>
> > To: <demstartup_at_aramis.sudval.org>;
> > <discuss-sudbury-model_at_aramis.sudval.org>
> > Sent: Friday, November 21, 2003 9:50 AM
> > Subject: [Discuss-sudbury-model] In the news
> >
> >
> > > In today's San Francisco Chronicle:
> > >
> > > >>Concord school lets students rule
> > > >>At Diablo Valley, kids guide the curriculum
> > >
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Mike Sadofsky" <sadofsky_at_comcast.net>
> > To: <discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org>
> > Sent: Monday, July 12, 2004 2:45 PM
> > Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Newspaper Article Mountain Laurel
> > Sudbury School
> >
> >
> > > Hey Carol,
> > >
> > > So what do you expect from what passes for a journalist today?
> > >
> > > Just think about how ineffective most of those who rise to the top of
> > > their profession are at asking probing questions and constructing a
> > > picture of anything out of the ordinary. But how about a letter to
> > > the editor that asks these same questions? Perhaps enough of them
> > > might get someone thinking? Maybe this is a strategy worth
> > > consideration.
> > >
> > > Mike
> > >
> > > On Mon, 12 Jul 2004 14:28:06 -0400, "Carol Hughes"
> > > <hughes0005_at_comcast.net> wrote:
> > >
> > > >Is it just me or does every single article about Sudbury schools
sound
> > the
> > > >same? The limitation time and time again is that the interview is
most
> > > >likely the journalist's first and only exposure to alternative
> > educational
> > > >views.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >The number one comment is always "there are no tests, grades or
> > homework".
> > > >Just kinda bugs me that the first thing stated is what they don't do
at
> > > >Sudbury Schools. Here's my suggested line instead. All learning and
> > growth
> > > >is student-driven. Values placed on knowledge are in the student's
own
> > > >mind. All the relationships among student and staff are relied upon
> for
> > > >feedback on the fulfillment of a chosen path of learning. The
students
> > are
> > > >keenly aware of each other's activities and areas of interest.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >Predictable comment number two, "no teachers, formal classes or a
> > > > curriculum". Egads did the word shepherd really appear in this paper
> > > >without the editor throwing it out?
> > > >
> > > >"Students are guided by staff members who shepherd them toward
> resources
> > and
> > > >information." In truth, everyone is a "teacher" at a Sudbury school.
> > Just
> > > >my opinion.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >Comment number three "lack of structure". Well, yeah, lack of the
> > structure
> > > >you remember and know about, but there is definitely a structure of a
> > > >different kind.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >Then of course we have the "expert" who has his doubts about this
sort
> of
> > > >school for everyone. "experts question their effectiveness for all
> > students"
> > > >Pulllleeze. Can we talk, as Joan Rivers would say, about the
> > effectiveness
> > > >of traditional schools?
> > > >
> > > >Okay, so is this about home-schooling in this journalist's eyes?
> Perhaps
> > > >since the enrollment is so small at this school we can over-look this
> > one.
> > > >A Sudbury school is definitely NOT a home-school.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >"On any given day, you're as likely to see them climbing trees as
> reading
> > > >books." Now there ya go, we're really "getting" the Sudbury concept
> now.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >"Students shoulder the ultimate responsibility for acquiring the
> > knowledge
> > > >needed to reach their goals." How successful these students are
depends
> > on
> > > >the child and his or her family, said noted author and educator
> Theodore
> > > >Sizer. Those who fare best are instinctively curious, stubborn and
> highly
> > > >self-motivated. Hmmmmmmmm, am wondering how this is different from
any
> > > >school, students, family, er ah life.
> > > >
> > > >"There are some kids who will simply drift and flounder," Having
been
> to
> > a
> > > >private fundamentalist high school, I can assure you that drifting
and
> > > >floundering is a normal state for many young people. Say who is this
> > Sizer
> > > >and how much time has he spent at a Sudbury school?
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >"despite the lack of direct supervision." Tain't so, this lack of
> > > >supervision. Oh well, if you can't see it you can't see it.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >"Ultimately it comes down to the individual and how well they apply
> > > >themselves." Now there's a radical idea.
> > > >Okay, I fell better now,
> > > >Carol Hughes
> > > >----- Original Message -----
> > > >From: <brenner1_at_att.net>
> > > >To: <discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org>
> > > >Sent: Monday, July 12, 2004 9:34 AM
> > > >Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Mountain Laurel Sudbury School
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >>
> > >
> >
>
>http://www.ctnow.com/news/education/hc-sudbury0712.artjul12,1,3722036.story
> > ?coll=hc-big-headlines-breaking
> > > >> Ultimate Unschool
> > > >> ByLORETTAWALDMAN
> > > >> Courant Staff Writer
> > > >>
> > > >> July 12 2004
> > > >>
> > > >> Every so often Nick Marshall-Butler gets a call from a former
> classmate
> > at
> > > >Sedgwick Middle School in West Hartford. Almost always, they want to
> know
> > > >when he's coming back.
> > > >>
> > > >> "Why would I come back?" he asks.
> > > >>
> > > >> At Mountain Laurel Sudbury School in New Britain - where Nick is
now
> a
> > > >student - there are no tests, grades or homework. Students have a say
> in
> > > >every decision and choose what they want to study.
> > > >>
> > > >> There are a total of five pupils and no teachers, formal classes or
a
> > > >curriculum. Students are guided by staff members who shepherd them
> toward
> > > >resources and information.
> > > >>
> > > >> "Most of my friends think it's crap," said Nick, a self-assured
> > > >14-year-old with braces and spindly legs. "They are entitled to their
> > > >opinion. I like it. It's good for me."
> > > >>
> > > >> Everyone involved with this private alternative school founded in
New
> > > >Britain two years ago seems to feel the same way. Despite the lack of
> > > >structure, they are confident there is as much or more learning going
> on
> > as
> > > >in a conventional private or public school setting.
> > > >>
> > > >> But Mountain Laurel is struggling to survive. Operating expenses
are
> > > >covered almost entirely by the $5,000 annual tuition, and, with just
> five
> > > >students, the school is barely viable.
> > > >>
> > > >> Board members host monthly open houses to attract new students -
the
> > next
> > > >one is scheduled for July 21 - but if more don't enroll the school
will
> > > >close, said Marie Sampson, a retired public school teacher and the
only
> > paid
> > > >member of Mountain Laurel's six-person staff.
> > > >>
> > > >> "It's a challenge until you get going," Sampson said. "It's a new
> idea
> > and
> > > >it can be scary to people."
> > > >>
> > > >> Looking For An Alternative
> > > >>
> > > >> Mountain Laurel is one of the many "unschools" popping up across
the
> > > >nation. The growth of these alternative educational opportunities -
> > though
> > > >experts question their effectiveness for all students - has been
> > explosive
> > > >and is expected to continue. Increased emphasis on standardized tests
> and
> > > >ever more rigid standards in public education are among the reasons,
> they
> > > >say.
> > > >>
> > > >> "What's happened is people are fed up with the dregs of the old
> > system,"
> > > >said Jerry Mintz, director of the Alternative Education Resource
> > > >Organization, a New York-based resource center for home-schoolers and
> > > >alternative educators. "Thanks to `No Child Left Behind,' people are
> > > >abandoning [conventional] schools in droves."
> > > >>
> > > >> In the last two decades, the number of parents home-schooling their
> > > >children has grown from 20,000 to about two million - a 100-fold
> > increase,
> > > >Mintz said. He estimates there are about 12,000 alternative schools
> > > >nationwide, which includes Montessori, charter and public alternative
> > > >schools.
> > > >>
> > > >> Of those, about 300 follow the democratic - one person, one-vote -
> > model
> > > >of Mountain Laurel Sudbury. The fledgling operation is one of about
30
> > > >"Sudbury" schools in the nation - and two in Connecticut, New Britain
> and
> > > >Hampton - modeled after Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, Mass.
> > > >>
> > > >> Founded 35 years ago, that school sits on a wooded estate near
> Boston.
> > > >Mountain Laurel occupies a rented portion of the religious education
> > > >building of St. Mark's Episcopal Church.
> > > >>
> > > >> Students and staff - a mixture of former home-schoolers and
refugees
> > from
> > > >the public school system - point to the success of the original
school
> > when
> > > >asked about their prospects. Close to 90 percent of Sudbury Valley's
> > nearly
> > > >700 graduates have gone on to colleges and universities in the United
> > States
> > > >and abroad, said Mimsy Sadofsky, a staff member and spokeswoman.
> > > >>
> > > >> Everyone Has A Say
> > > >>
> > > >> The Sudbury model includes weekly school meetings. At Mountain
> Laurel,
> > > >they are laid back, free-form affairs.
> > > >>
> > > >> At a recent meeting, Sampson and Beth King, a parent and part-time
> > staff
> > > >member, ran through items on the agenda. Nick stood over a stool
nearby
> > > >alternately playing cards and offering feedback and commentary.
> > > >>
> > > >> Two other students, Emily King, 16, and Shae Nethercott, 13, played
> Old
> > > >Maid at a nearby table. Nick's 5-year-old brother, Liam, the school's
> > > >youngest student, twirled in circles in his stocking feet, swatting
the
> > air.
> > > >>
> > > >> Students draft school laws, and at this meeting - the last one of
the
> > > >school year - they revised a policy on leaving campus. King dragged a
> > pink
> > > >highlighter across a map to mark the boundaries of the downtown area
> > where
> > > >students are now allowed to visit.
> > > >>
> > > >> The next item: Voting on whether to use student activity funds for
> > > >everyone to have lunch at a downtown diner. Approval was unanimous.
The
> > > >outing was to celebrate the end of the school year.
> > > >>
> > > >> King said she home-schooled Emily and her 18-year-old sister, Alex,
> > before
> > > >enrolling them at Mountain Laurel.
> > > >>
> > > >> "What we were looking for was for her to be able to direct her own
> > > >learning but to have a community around her everyday," said King, who
> > heard
> > > >about the school from a professor at Central Connecticut State
> > University.
> > > >>
> > > >> Nick was bored and stressed out attending Sedgwick, said his
mother,
> > > >Melissa Marshall, a trustee of Mountain Laurel. "Schools are so
focused
> > on
> > > >standardized tests that it takes away from real learning."
> > > >>
> > > >> Since transferring, Nick seems more responsible, more independent
and
> > more
> > > >in charge of his own life, Marshall said. "I've seen so much growth
in
> > every
> > > >single kid at the school."
> > > >>
> > > >> The school maintains regular hours, but full-time students are
> required
> > to
> > > >be there only 25 hours a week. On any given day, you're as likely to
> see
> > > >them climbing trees as reading books.
> > > >>
> > > >> But equipment is sparse: a couple of donated computers, a VCR and a
> > > >television purchased when the school opened. Bookshelves are filled
> with
> > > >mostly donated books and supplemented by the collection at New
Britain
> > > >Public Library, where students also rent videotapes and use the
> > computers.
> > > >>
> > > >> There are no graduation requirements. If students want one,
however,
> > they
> > > >could propose it and bring the matter to a vote at a school meeting.
> > > >>
> > > >> "We create rules as we need them," Sampson said.
> > > >>
> > > >> Not For Everyone
> > > >>
> > > >> Such liberties come with a price. Students shoulder the ultimate
> > > >responsibility for acquiring the knowledge needed to reach their
goals.
> > If
> > > >Nick, for example, wants to attend a college requiring a diploma or
the
> > SAT,
> > > >it's up to him to master the material needed to pass either test.
> > > >>
> > > >> How successful these students are depends on the child and his or
her
> > > >family, said noted author and educator Theodore Sizer. Those who fare
> > best
> > > >are instinctively curious, stubborn and highly self-motivated.
> > > >>
> > > >> "There are some kids who will simply drift and flounder," said
Sizer,
> > > >former dean of Harvard University's graduate school of education and
> > founder
> > > >of the Coalition of Essential Schools, a school reform initiative.
> > > >>
> > > >> Some youngsters mistakenly think "democratic" means "I can do
> anything
> > I
> > > >want," said Sizer. "There is another side, a very difficult side,
that
> > > >involves pitching in and working together to make the community
> > collectively
> > > >function. The whole thing rests on the paradox of having a structure
in
> > > >place that allows kids to learn how to work as a community in a
> > democratic
> > > >way."
> > > >>
> > > >> Whether that's happening at Mountain Laurel is hard to say.
Students
> do
> > > >appear happier, though, and extraordinarily mindful of rules despite
> the
> > > >lack of direct supervision.
> > > >>
> > > >> On one warm June afternoon, Nick, Shae and Emily huddled on the
stone
> > > >stairs outside the church chatting and reading paperbacks.
> > > >>
> > > >> "Here you're not going to be forced to read a certain thing and
then
> > tell
> > > >everyone about it," said Shae, whose mother describes her as a
bright,
> > > >strong-minded kid with a thing about rules.
> > > >>
> > > >> Shae, who transferred to Mountain Laurel from Chippens Hill Middle
> > School
> > > >in Bristol, battled with her mother nightly over homework. She took
> three
> > > >different medications for a collection of learning and behavioral
> > problems,
> > > >including attention deficit disorder, sad Liz Shupe, her mother.
> > > >>
> > > >> "In public school, you have to fit into a box otherwise you're in
> > > >trouble," Shupe said. "You're not to question anything. She's not
that
> > kind
> > > >of person."
> > > >>
> > > >> At Mountain Laurel, Shae is "functioning beautifully" and no longer
> > > >requires medication. "She's much easier to deal with and much
happier,"
> > > >Shupe said. "It's such a relief."
> > > >>
> > > >> Nick, who is fascinated with politics, spends one day a week doing
> > > >volunteer work for U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd's office in Rocky Hill.
> > Emily
> > > >is enrolled in a pottery class at Wesleyan University in Middletown.
> > > >>
> > > >> If such freedoms seemed radical when alternative schools such as
> Summer
> > > >Hill appeared on the scene 40 years ago, they don't anymore. For more
> > than a
> > > >decade, public educators have been using the approach to deal with
> > so-called
> > > >"high-low" students - low performers with high intelligence - or
those
> > not
> > > >finding success in a traditional school setting.
> > > >>
> > > >> Colleges have come around, too. Receiving applications from
students
> > who
> > > >lack grades or traditional transcripts is not a new phenomenon, said
> > Reggie
> > > >E. Kennedy, senior associate dean of admissions at Trinity College in
> > > >Hartford. Instead of transcripts, administrators rely on interviews
and
> > > >recommendations.
> > > >>
> > > >> "We just take those on a case-by-case basis," Kennedy said of such
> > > >students. "You never want to close the door. Ultimately it comes down
> to
> > the
> > > >individual and how well they apply themselves."
> > > >>
> > > >> Trustees at Mountain Laurel have set July 31 as the deadline for
> > > >bolstering enrollment. Whether the school survives hinges on how well
> > they
> > > >convey their vision to parents like Heidi Alletzhauser.
> > > >>
> > > >> The Bristol resident and her husband were among those attending one
> of
> > two
> > > >open houses at Mountain Laurel last month. They are weighing whether
to
> > > >register three of their four sons and concede they are still
undecided.
> > > >>
> > > >> "What draws us is the egalitarian nature of the culture there: the
> > ability
> > > >of the kids to be able to pursue deeply what interests them," said
> > > >Alletzhauser, who moved to Connecticut from California two years ago.
> > > >>
> > > >> The lack of a permanent facility, the school's small student body
and
> > its
> > > >uncertain future are among their concerns, Alletzhauser said.
> > > >>
> > > >> Melissa Marshall hopes the school can be saved. She is certain that
> > both
> > > >Nick and Liam will come away from their education there better
equipped
> > than
> > > >they would from a public school.
> > > >>
> > > >> "I think they are learning a broader set of skills to be
> > self-sufficient,"
> > > >she said. "Instead of working on tests, projects and getting A's,
they
> > are
> > > >focused on self-examination and what they want in life."
> > > >> Copyright 2004, Hartford Courant
> > > >>
> > > >>
> > > >>
> > > >> -------------- Original message from Mike Sadofsky : --------------
> > > >> > >July 12, 2004
> > > >> > >Ultimate Unschool - Hartford Courant
> > > >> > >At Mountain Laurel Sudbury School in New Britain there are no
> tests,
> > > >> > >grades or homework. Students have a say in every decision and
> > > >> > >choose what they want to study.
> > > >> >
> > > >> > These are the opening words in an article in today's Hartford
(CT)
> > > >> > Courant. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to make it through
> their
> > > >> > *registration* process in order to access the entire article.
> Perhaps
> > > >> > someone else will and will post the entire text here.
> > > >> >
> > > >> > Mike
> > > >> > _______________________________________________
> > > >> > Discuss-sudbury-model mailing list
> > > >> > Discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
> > > >> > http://www.sudval.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/discuss-sudbury-model
> > > >> _______________________________________________
> > > >> Discuss-sudbury-model mailing list
> > > >> Discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
> > > >> http://www.sudval.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/discuss-sudbury-model
> > > >>
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >_______________________________________________
> > > >Discuss-sudbury-model mailing list
> > > >Discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
> > > >http://www.sudval.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/discuss-sudbury-model
> > >
> > > _______________________________________________
> > > Discuss-sudbury-model mailing list
> > > Discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
> > > http://www.sudval.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/discuss-sudbury-model
> > >
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
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> > http://www.sudval.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/discuss-sudbury-model
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Received on Thu Jul 15 2004 - 21:06:56 EDT

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