Houston Sudbury School: Where passion and purpose are the "curriculum"

Enjoy this insight from Kimberly Kraft, a parent of one of our older students.

I was talking with my neighbor the other day. A young man in his 30’s. He mentioned being tired of work. So I said you know they say if you do something you love you never work a day in your life! He kind of laughed, and I then proceeded to ask him a question. I asked, if you could do anything you wanted, what would that be? He said, you know, that’s just it. I don’t know what I want to do. I don’t know what I like. I’ve never had the time to figure that out. Then he asked me the same thing! I told him I had been working on me and finding myself this year (since I went through a divorce after almost 19 years of marriage and selling my company). I told him I was trying to take the time and really figure out what I want to do, but the easiest thing to do would be to settle and take a job that had benefits. He agreed that I should take the time to figure out what kind of work makes me truly happy if I have the time and resources to do that instead of settling.

At that point, I told him about my son’s school, Houston Sudbury School. I told him how I was so happy my son was going there because he was one of the lucky ones who get to take the time to figure out what they are truly passionate about. He asked me some questions about what the kids study, and I said they can study, practice, or do whatever they are interested in doing all day long. And he was perplexed, as everyone is when you try to explain that there is no specific curriculum! Then I told him the school was democratically-run and explained the judicial system of equal say between staff and students. The students create all the rules that govern the school and write each other up when not following an established rule. He was amazed at how they really hold each other accountable and have a lot of responsibility and freedom at that school. I said that’s their motto: Freedom + Responsibility! He said he could remember still having to ask permission to go to the bathroom when he was 18 years old.

Then he told me about training some young guys at work and how they just could not think for themselves and make decisions, He told me how he had to direct and guide their every move even after he took a white board and listed every step they needed to complete their jobs. We also talked about how the public school system really doesn’t teach anyone to be independent thinkers and how the school system teaches the students that they have to ask permission for everything they do, so it’s no surprise the young guys at his work require so much guidance and support. He said he had read that the school system came to be the way it is today from the Industrial Revolution with the goal of creating factory workers. I said yes, and they are still creating drones for the big machine even though what we need now are independent thinkers to solve the problems that the industrial age created.

My neighbor went on to say that he noticed that my son seemed so much happier and calmer since going to Houston Sudbury School. This was great to hear because, when enrolling him, my family was up in about Josh going to a school without a curriculum. Not too long after having to defend my decision to send him to a school that offered so much freedom, I got a call from my sister saying what a turn-around he has made (he had offered to meet her at his work to put a new battery in her car). And just this morning, my brother in law sent us both a text saying how proud he was of Josh, how exciting it was to see his passion for cars, and how cool it was to see how excited he was to help others (he had worked on a friend of the family’s car at my brother-in-law’s house the night before.)

Since going to Houston Sudbury School, my son now has a passion for creating music and working on hot-rod cars! He is also a computer geek and can fix about any problem you have with a computer, he is a DJ at 90.1 KPFT Houston radio (his show is called The Chill Zone and airs Fridays from 8-9pm), he works at an auto parts store on the weekends (to get discounts on the parts he needs for his vehicle work and money to pay for them) and, in his free time, he is composing beautiful electronic music on his computer. I can already see him releasing his first album and on stage in concert! He has also taught himself to learn to play the piano and is now learning to play the guitar. I look back to a year and a half ago when I was worried about him being so unhappy and worried he would be a school dropout. Now, I am so proud of him and so excited to see him flourish and find what his passions are. I am so very thankful we found Houston Sudbury. It has truly changed his life for the better.

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