Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Newbie with Question

From: Kathleen Stilwell <>
Date: Wed Dec 1 15:08:00 2004

Hi Mary,
I'm guessing that for most of us, the Sudbury approach to learning is so very different from our personal experience growing up that we have to readjust our vision to see what is happening. I'm also guessing that most of us continue to feel like a "newbie" until our child is well into adulthood. We are following a vision, not a well-worn path. Most of us grew up pleasing others with our behavior. We were judged, rewarded, punished, praised, criticized...given lots and lots of direction. Supporting a child's efforts to discover his/her own passions is a different experience entirely. From my own experience, I can tell you that this is as much a path of discovery for the parent as it is for the child.
As an adult I am still very much like your son. I'll dive into a new subject with enthusiasm only to find it is not quite as enjoyable or engaging as I had imagined. So I drop it or keep looking at experiences with similar qualities until I find exactly what I'm looking for.
My teenage son has started and stopped many pursuits in his young life. The one "discipline" he stuck with until he had some degree of mastery was taekwondo. But he stayed with that only because he had a passion for performing in combat scenes on stage. When he left the acting school, he also left the martial arts behind.
He's now testing other waters and is mostly engaged in developing his relationships within his school community.
I've learned that I have no choice but to follow my inner voice and trust that my son is the only one who can discover the things that excite him enough to engage his attention. These things he will master. Whether anyone else thinks of his choices as worthy of mastery is irrelevant.
Communication and respect for our childrens' innate intelligence is the key. I don't really know much about his interaction with staff at Fairhaven School which he attends, but I do know that there is never any pressure for him to engage in any activity, or study any subject, that he does not freely choose. There's a wonderful thing about the void that is left when no one is deciding for us how we should spend our time and energy. We seek to fill the void ourselves. And we seek to fill that void with things that we love.
On occasion, I'll still bring suggestions to my son about things I could teach him. For the most part, he says "No thanks, not now". But other times he says "Okay. Show me what you've got." In these cases he'll ask some questions, learn a few things and then lose interest. And that's as it should be. He's the only one that can make those decisions for himself.
Welcome to our adventure!
Kathy Stilwell, Fairhaven parent

Mary Torgersen <> wrote:
Hello All,

I absolutely love reading all the posts on this list. What a very interesting and passionate group! I am just thinking about Sudbury Valley for my 9 year old son. One of my concerns is that my son will not attempt things that he finds difficult. Even things he likes, like football, he is not willing or able to do his time to become better. For example, he wanted to take trumpet lessons
(totally his idea). He was so excited. He immediately realized it was "hard" and has ceased practicing. Now he has fallen behind and unless I start mandating practice, I know he will not ever learn to play this instrument.

So, my question is obvious at this point. How would he fare in the Sudbury Valley model? Sometimes I feel that the only reason he has learned as much math, science, and writing as he has is that he is required to do so in public school. If it were not required, I fear he would never be willing to work hard. Never gain the discipline to master things, but perhaps always just do enough to get by. Are some people just by nature like this? Or will everyone, given the space and time, come to master the things that are important to them.

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Received on Wed Dec 01 2004 - 15:07:57 EST

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