What is a Sudbury School?
A Sudbury school is a democratically-run school where each member (students and staff) have a vote in the running of the school. Sudbury schools follow the philosophy of self-directed learning, responsibility, freedom, and age-mixing. There are no fixed curriculum, homework, teachers, or schedules to follow. Staff serve as facilitators, rather than teachers. Students determine how to spend their days in ways that most engage them in their own learning process, in community, and with the help of caring adults who recognize their innate dignity and capabilities.
A democratic government allows all those involved in the school to be invested in its success. A democratic school environment protects the rights of all individuals in the school, empowers those involved and fosters a sense of purpose and responsibility. The Sudbury environment allows children to cultivate leadership, problem-solving, and goal setting.
How is Sudbury different from Unschooling?
Both unschooling and the Sudbury philosophy share the belief in children’s natural capacity for learning and self-determination. What distinguishes a Sudbury school from individual unschooling is the democratic process, being responsible and empowered in the running of an institution, a safe and supportive space away from parents to experience independence and responsibility, and a stable community in which children stretch themselves and practice all the interpersonal skills they will need in adulthood.
How will my child learn if there is no curriculum?
Children are learning all of the time. When children are very young, they are like little scientists. This natural, driven, curiosity can continue into school age if it is allowed to thrive. Children and teens are curious about their world and naturally want to grow to become independent adults–which is unique for each of them, as it is for adults. Sudbury schools foster a child’s internal motivation, which is a much more powerful driver to learning than external motivation.
Won’t my kids just play all day?
Students at Sudbury schools spend a lot of time playing. A common misconception is that play is mindless activity. It is not. Curiosity and play propel each other, they both involve exploration of the unknown. The means by which people advance is through investigation and manipulation of that which is not yet known. Play is key to children’s learning and understanding of their world.
Won’t my child play video games, watch movies, surf the Internet or consume too much media?
Consuming media is a form of learning also. In video games, children are deeply engaged in problem-solving. As adults we surf the Internet to learn or be entertained, children model our behavior, and do the same. Technology is a crucial component of our culture, which children will seek to understand and use.
Will my child be safe?
Yes. Safety is the highest priority at the school. The students and staff make the school’s rules together, and any student can report staff or students for violations of the rules. If someone is written up they must attend the Judicial Committee where the conflict is investigated and reviewed by their peers and a staff member to decide on appropriate action. Having a small student to staff ratio also contributes to safety. Students also go through a stringent certification process to participate in certain activities.
How will my student be able to go to college after graduating from a Sudbury school?
Students who attend Sudbury schools are usually extremely well-prepared to go to college. They’re quite knowledgeable, very articulate, and very motivated. Sudbury students are able to learn all they need to know for college entrance, often in a very short time. Colleges are not as different from Sudbury schools in that students are expected to know themselves and take responsibility for their own education. 85% of the students from the original Sudbury Valley School attend college. Others pursue their vocations in a variety of ways.