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

From: Jesse Gallagher <>
Date: Wed Oct 12 23:02:01 2005

Hi Jeff,

Let me start by telling you how closely I have been
following you folks in New York, and how often I've
considered relocating the sixty-or-so miles that would
bring my family into your immediate area. The HVS
story has been exciting for me.

Your question is an important question, and one that
was addressed at length in the Lost Gallagher
Manuscript. ;-)

I should make clear that I speak only for myself and
for a few close friends when I answer your questions.
To presume to speak for other unschoolers, or, perish
the thought, for the unschooling community, smacks of
a hubris that even *I* can't generate.

I think there were three primary reasons that we core
families attempted to create an unschooling
cooperative rather than sending our kids to the
Sudbury model school 25 minutes from our homes (the
still not-so-stable Mountain Laurel Sudbury School in
New Britain, CT, whose founding I was originally
involved with).

The reasons are, of course, related.

In order of importance:

1. We wanted to be able to participate with our young
and very young children, not just our school-age kids

2. We wanted the flexibility to attend when it was
appropriate for our children and ourselves

3. We couldn't justify spending thousands of dollars
to pay a stranger to unschool the children that we
were already successfully unschooling

I'll flesh those reasons out a little more for you.

All of us have multiple children, and the families
that we see several times a week also have multiple
children. We have enjoyed our children growing and
learning with us and their siblings and do not want to
deprive our 0-5 year olds of their older brothers and
sisters. This is *the* reason that we chose a
cooperative over a Sudbury type school. I can’t
stress that enough. I have few doubts that our
school-age kids would benefit from the inter-age
interaction that Sudbury schools afford their
students, but they currently receive those benefits
and their departure for a school would deprive their
younger siblings of them for years. This is simply
unacceptable to me, my wife, and several other parents
whom we have come to know intimately.

The schedule is also an issue for us and our kids.
Full-time attendance at a Sudbury school would limit
rather than expand the opportunities for our children.
 We are quite active, both as individual families and
as a group. I simply can’t imagine going to the same
place every day (which probably explains the
difficulties I have working in the corporate world),
and neither can my children. This touches on a theme
that I’ll address in a moment, which is also a relic
of the Lost Manuscript.

Finally, unschooling is free. That is, it’s as free
as having kids gets. For single income families--who,
with multiple children, are committed to years of only
one income--there isn’t a lot of cash to throw around.
 Even the moderate $100/month that we needed to secure
the space we were looking for was more than most of
our prospective members were willing or able to pay.
The families who were willing to pay that (or more)
weren’t willing to unschool! They had expectations of
class offerings, rigid scheduling, etc.

This is all related to the primary difference between
unschooling and free-schooling, which I’ll discuss
briefly here but which I’ll be happy to discuss at
great length with those who are equally interested in
the matter.

Free-schooling, including Sudbury model schooling, is
an awesome and inspiring alternative to traditional
schooling--but it’s still school. Children are still
traveling to one location to do their learning. Their
learning is, thus, still institutionalized.

A Sudbury school, like every institution, presents an
environment that must be understood and
mastered--students must adapt themselves to the
environment in order to thrive and be happy.
Fortunately, this is an easier task at a Sudbury
school than at most others. Still, it is in the
context of the school setting that students exist.

In contrast, an unschooler exists within the context
of the community in which he lives. He lives and
learns, grows and fails, in the same matrix in which
his parents live and learn. He shares a context with
his neighbors, his mail carrier, his firefighters, and
his clergy. There is no distinction between learning
and living, because no distinction can be made.

I think all parents hope that their children will be
able to transfer and apply the skills they learn in
school to the everyday “real” world when they leave
school--and I have no doubt that Sudbury students are
exceptionally adept at this--but unschoolers live and
learn *in* that real world (whatever that real world
may be--a question I’ll leave for now but will also be
happy to take up with the bold and unemployed). Their
learning environment is whatever unique place they
find themselves in space and time--they have no stable
of specialized “school-skills” that they must adapt to
an often hostile universe. There is no graduation,
short of death itself.

Let me be clear that I believe the free-school model
to be the closest approximation to real life amongst
existing educational models. It accomplishes what it
sets out to accomplish, and in an admirable fashion.

But the elements of the free-school that remain
unavailable to unschoolers are the elements that
remain unavailable to the wider American
society--consensual justice, egalitarianism, and group
self-determination, sadly, still escape this ailing
nation, and may ever do so.

I hope my answer has been helpful.


--- Jeff Collins <> wrote:

> Jesse,
> I am sorry you lost it Jesse, I would have loved to
> read it.
> I do have a question for you to consider. If you
> were to start an
> unschooling group or cooperative or whatever it is
> called, in what ways
> would it differ from a Sudbury school? I don't mean
> this to sound
> argumentative (if it does), I am curious what
> aspects of a Sudbury
> school you find that you would like to change.
> I find that some home schooling parents cannot get
> over the fact that a
> Sudbury school is a school. I am not saying you
> fall into this
> category, just that some parents do.
> Jeff

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Received on Wed Oct 12 2005 - 23:01:31 EDT

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