Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] compulsory element of sudbury model

From: Brenda in Louisa <>
Date: Tue Oct 11 09:33:01 2005

I had been thinking about commenting on this thread, and
the mention of Blackberry Village (below) is certainly my

We have been or will be part time only as a transition into
becoming full time, which is our ultimate goal. We are a
group of unschooling families who's children want to attend
a Sudbury school full time -- so part-time is not our goal,
only the necessity while we don't have the facilities and
resources to be full time right now.

Several Sudbury schools have likewise started as only part
time before they evolved into full time -- some for
several years even (Fairhaven and Clearwater, maybe

This, however, is quite different from a school that is
operating full time, but taking part-time students. When
EVERYONE is only going, say, three days a week, it does not
present the same problems as when some are and some aren't.
We did look into the possibility of taking in part time
students even as a three-day school --- taking in students
who wanted to come only one day a week or sporatically.
We, however, heard too many negative things from schools
who had tried allowing some students to routinely come
fewer days than others.

From what I understand, it's just too disruptive of the
overall culture, though not so much more disruptive of
specific group or individual activities. Such disruptions
probably happen all the time in a regular Sudbury school
even with all full-time students, and, as Molly pointed
out, learning to deal with such disruptions is part of
life's learning. However, I've heard from other schools
that have tried it that there are some truly unwanted kinds
of "disruptions" that are less tangible.

It seems that it takes a lot of community building to
nurture a good Sudbury culture. Part time students miss
the indefinable day-to-day flow of life that contributes to
the formation of this culture, which is unique to each
school. This day to day flow includes bonding, decision
making and all the experiences of the school that lead to
the need to make decisions/rules. A part time or "random"
student may either not be there for the actual decision-
making process or for some or much of the community life
that led the school towards the need for making making
proposals. The student cannot make informed decisions nor
can always understand the reasons behind decisions. They
therefore can't as easily take seriously the school and its
ever-changing ways. Some schools have resultingly found
that part-time kids were more likely to present behavior

There may be schools that have incorporated part-time
students with some success, but there's obviously a price,
as well as some benefits (such as more children). It's
really up to each individual school as to whether they want
to experiment with part-timers or not.

Molly wrote "the forced attendance still seems at odds with
the rest of the sudbury philosophy, and doesn't feel right
to many of us unschoolers." If one really believes this,
then there should never be any rules whatsoever in a
democratic school. However, having no rules is simply not
what a democratic/Sudbury school is about. A democratic
school is about students and staff having equal voice in
the running of the school. If that means seeing the need
to make a rule against, say, forms of physical violence,
then that is still in keeping with the school democracy.
The key is that the rule is made democratically. A school
can likewise democratically decide against part-time or
random attendance. An outsider, or even some school members
may not like all of the rules, but it is not fair to take
any certain rule that one does not like and call it at odds
with the philosophy.

I do believe, however, that most Sudbury schools are fairly
flexible about attendance. I've heard of many instances of
students involved in internships, apprenticeships, and
other interests outside of the school during school hours.

Our group has thus far taken the stance that we only want
students who are committed to the school and generally wish
to attend daily. We do, however, want to honor and
accommodate individual needs, whether they include being at
the school or not. A student might decide to occasionally
work on a "project" at home or do a family field trip. They
might still be counted as "in school" that day, but they
would need to call in or pre-plan such occasional non-
school activities. This would, however, ideally be a
student who generally wants to attend the school full time,
but occasionally wants/needs to do activities outside of
the school. On a case-by-case basis, the school would
consider any student's interest in being involved regularly
in some activity that takes them away from the school for
larger chunks of time. So, what I'm saying is that I think
a Sudbury school can be somewhat flexible on school
attendance, but still only take students who are generally
committed to attending, who are there because they want
that experience of being a major part of the group culture.
 Sometimes, and perhaps particularly as children get older
there are other community experiences that they need that
can yet be accommodated.

I believe, though, if a school's policy was that anyone
could attend as much or as little of the school as they
wanted and thereby accept lots of students who aren't
interested in taking the time to building the group culture
--- then what you have is a different kind of school. It's
not the kind my children want. They want to be around lots
of kids every day --- the same kids, not a sporadic group
here and there. Sporadic or once or twice a week groups has
been their experience with unschooling (they are 12 and 14
and life-long unschoolers). They now crave the opportunity
to develop deeper relationships with children. This simply
can't happen as well with 1 to 3 days a week or random

Certainly there is nothing wrong with a group of
unschoolers wanting to come together occasionally, yet
spend much of their time spread out in community
activities. This is asking for a different experience, I
believe, than a full-time Sudbury school. Those wanting
such a less intense group experience might look towards
creating a homeschool co-op or a permanent 2-3 day Sudbury
school that doesn't have aspirations towards becoming full
time. There may be some Sudbury schools out their willing
to make the sacrifices of taking in part-time/random
students, but I believe those who don't want to make that
sacrifice are not at all at odds with the Sudbury

Brenda Callen
Blackberry Village School (In formation)

From: "cheryl huff" <>
Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] compulsory element of sudbury model
Send reply to:
Date sent: Tue, 11 Oct 2005 06:57:25 -0400

> Molly, there is a school starting in central Virginia called
> "Blackberry Village" that is, I believe, attempting to do
> what you are suggesting - create a co-op of sorts for
> unschooled kids so that they can have a part time SVS
> experience...I am not sure what their plan or status is just
> now, but they have a website:
> They may have some
> interesting ideas about the possibilties you are considering
> for your future.
> I just have to mention that I am a very committed part-time
> employee working for four different colleges, for very
> substandard pay, because I believe my students and I have
> something to give each other - but the truth is, I can avoid
> some of the "scut" - committee work, administrative junk-
> because I come in, teach, and leave. So I fulfill both sides
> of your discussion...
> Your conversation has given me much to think about, so thank
> you, Shelli, Carol, Molly.
> cheryl huff
> > [Original Message]
> > From: Shelli Buhr <>
> > To: <>
> > Date: 10/11/2005 2:24:07 AM
> > Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] compulsory element of
> > sudbury model
> >
> > Carol,
> >
> > Very well said. I am not stating I agree with you and not
> > Molly. I identify with what you have written.
> >
> > I am having a hard time identifying with unschooling. I
> > have a hard time getting the concept of part time or drop
> > in participation in school even though I know it was
> > merely thrown out there in context with attendance.
> >
> > I guess I equate my understanding of school as 'in
> > preparation of' adult life. I dont know if my judgment of
> > 'being responsible' enables me the flexibility to be a
> > drop in employee, or a part time parent as I equate a lot
> > of emphasis on responsibility.
> >
> > I can see that clearly it is working for Molly, in
> > fact, I really like how it is opening your children to
> > really become part of their community and I think that is
> > fantastic.
> >
> > But here is my inner critic asking questions... How do
> > individual needs get addressed? Is there a lack of
> > structure (foundation) necessary to build on? Are they
> > doing what they want or what the group is doing, or are
> > they doing this because this alternative unschooling is
> > incomparable to the concept of any kind of structured
> > education?
> >
> > It comes down to this... I personally dont know if I
> > am that courageous to simply allow that much freedom.
> >
> > I guess there are times in life when part of my growth
> > came when I have to do things that are not good or fun or
> > pleasing, but are good for me and are in my best interest.
> > Only then, I would have lacked the experience or knowledge
> > or simply thought that I knew better or enough to make the
> > right choice for me at that time.
> >
> > Carol, something else that you said triggered and
> > "Aha" sense in me. "it disrupts the flow." The process of
> > "IS" the flow.
> >
> > For me, I tried imagining myself at work; it would be hard
> > to get something accomplished, especially if there was a
> > pre-defined group effort, if an outside force came in and
> > lended its influence without regard to 'the flow' of what
> > already was.
> >
> > Shelli
> >
> >
> > --- Hughes <> wrote:
> >
> > > What if I asked you to let any of the kids at an SVS
> > > school join in with your kids projects or activities
> > > whenever the mood struck them? What if your child
> > > didn't happen to particularly like the personality of
> > > the child who wanted to jump in with your child's
> > > activity? If you paid for the supplies, how would you
> > > handle the expenses? I just don't get why you think
> > > this is a good idea. If I had a job and someone wanted
> > > to participate in my work whenever they liked, it would
> > > drive me nuts. SVS frequently has people who want to
> > > come have a look and participate in the school day.
> > > When the adult, child, sibling, visitor, media or
> > > whatever is not a day-to-day part of the community it
> > > disrupts the flow. SVS is a community, a way of life, a
> > > home, a work in progress. Changing that balance that is
> > > created among the students by their own enormous effort
> > > is very frustrating. A part time job, a part time
> > > family, a part time anything just doesn't have the same
> > > results as a full time commitment. If my kids had had
> > > their way, SVS would have been year round. It is
> > > incredibly ironic to me that you want to have some of
> > > this "school" experience when you are so firmly commited
> > > to unschooling? What is it that you are not getting
> > > from your experience that makes you want this
> > > connection? Tis a puzzle. Are you aware that students
> > > sign their own committment to attending SVS when
> > > enrolled? Carol
> > >
> > >
> > > ----- Original Message -----
> > > From:
> > > To:
> > > Sent: Monday, October 10, 2005 2:08 PM
> > > Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] compulsory
> > > element of sudbury model
> > >
> > >
> > > In a message dated 10/8/2005 12:58:41 PM Pacific
> > > Daylight Time, writes:
> > >
> > >
> > > Molly,
> > > If unschooling kids could benefit from going to
> > > Sudbury Schools, how do the kids who are choosing to be
> > > there more often benefit from the unschooling kids? Do
> > > you want everyone else to create a community for your
> > > children that they can drop in here and there to
> > > participate? Doesn't seem balanced to me. Attendence
> > > has to be there for the school to thrive. Part time
> > > attendence assumes that one could reap the rewards of
> > > other people's efforts.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Carol,
> > >
> > > This is not reflective of my intent at all, when I
> > > wrote about opening sudbury schools to unschoolers, who
> > > may choose to not enroll because of compulsory
> > > attendance policies.
> > >
> > > Maybe because of the nature of their lifestyles,
> > > folks who unschool understand the important
> > > reationship between freedom and responsibility.
> > > Therefore, these are not people who are out there
> > > trying to benefit at the expense of others. I'm
> > > sorry if I somehow inadvertantly painted that
> > > picture.
> > >
> > > Speaking for my family and the dozens of
> > > unschoolers we know, these are people who are often
> > > enthusiastic about working (often in democratic
> > > settings) to make their communities better places. This
> > > was the reason for my statement that I thought an
> > > infusion of unschooling kids could actually be a
> > > positive rather than a negative thing for sudbury
> > > schools.
> > >
> > > I understand that if all kids used sudbury as a
> > > drop-in center, the school could not thrive. But
> > > shouldn't an institution as worthy as a sudbury
> > > school should be able to attract attendance based on its
> > > own merits - not on forced attendance policies? I know
> > > it sounds counter-intuitive, but by removing the
> > > compulsory aspect, perhaps a sudbury school would
> > > enhance its daily culture by attracting those
> > > unschoolers who are currently deterred because of the
> > > perceived forced attendance policy.
> > >
> > > It could follow that kids who want the flexibility
> > > of being able to "drop-in", and who spend fewer
> > > hours a day on campus than others, might end up
> > > being more involved and active in the school
> > > meetings - or, might make more positive
> > > contributions in other ways - than even some kids
> > > who choose to spend every hour on campus. In any
> > > case, the forced attendance still seems at odds with the
> > > rest of the sudbury philosophy, and doesn't feel right
> > > to many of us unschoolers.
> > >
> > > Molly Mancasola
> > >
> > >
> > >
> >
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Received on Tue Oct 11 2005 - 09:32:47 EDT

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