Sudbury Schools – Democratic Learning

I have found it fascinating watching and reading about the Sudbury Valley School movement.

Wikipedia: “Sudbury Valley School practice a form of democratic education in which students individually decide what to do with their time, and learn as a by-product of ordinary experience rather than through classes or a standard curriculum.”

Something in my spirit cries out for schools such as this and deep down I believe such approaches can work and yet would be a great threat to the powers at be.

A real shame as many, many students would benefit greatly from such a free learning model.

Yet schools such as Steiner and Montessori have all struggled for their existence. They end up becoming private schools which then preclude those students whose families can’t can’t afford to pay.

A real catch 22 – the state public system will not support alternative approaches that ‘work well’ as it may cause a mass exodus from mainstream. I have noticed this happen with the great work being done by The Pavilion and Hands On Learning. Neither attract significant government funding that would greatly enable their programs to grow.

My ideas for a Big Picture Campus in Shepparton is forming…just HOW to make this a reality is a real challenge when the “system” wars against new ways of learning that contradict the ‘factory model’ of the 20th century.

Here is the bio:

At Sudbury Valley School, students from preschool through high school age explore the world freely, at their own pace and in their own unique ways. They learn to think for themselves, and learn to use Information Age tools to unearth the knowledge they need from multiple sources. They develop the ability to make clear logical arguments, and deal with complex ethical issues. Through self-initiated activities, they pick up the basics; as they direct their lives, they take responsibility for outcomes, set priorities, allocate resources, and work with others in a vibrant community.

Trust and respect are the keys to the school’s success. Students enjoy total intellectual freedom, and unfettered interaction with other students and adults. Through being responsible for themselves and for the school’s operation, they gain the internal resources needed to lead effective lives.

Sudbury Valley School was founded in 1968. Located in an old stone mansion and a converted barn on the mid-nineteenth century Bowditch estate, the ten acre campus adjoins extensive conservation lands.


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