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Sudbury Valley School

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A different perspective on the future is found at this school in Massachusetts. Here the future must start by getting away from the past. The Sudbury Valley School has swept away everything that's conneted with the beginning of mass education. Classrooms, timetables, and teachers. Other traditional schools are based on the idea that, in order for a person to learn you have to feed him information; information that you've pre-digested and pre-choosen, and that has nothing to do with the 21st century where people are really in control of their own destiny. Your saying that model was created for the industrial revolution. When the industrial revolution started there were no schools of mass education. That was something that was developed when people realized that machines, back in the early industrial age, did not have the kind of feedback that machines have today. You had to have somebody man them. They could do just a certain amount of the work, and the rest had to be done by people. That meant you'd have to get people that were parts of the machine. There are 200 on roll aged between 4 and 19. And so long as they keep within the rules, they can spend their day doing whatever they please. I don't see any reason to treat children different from other people. My experience is that they are human beings just like everybody else. Around ages 4-5 children become articulate and can decide what they want to do with their time. To view a child as any less competitent to make decisions for themselves, than adults is ridiculous. The school is open between 8:30 and 5:30. The children can arrive at a time that suits them, so long as they stay for 5 hours. The freedom and being able to do what you want is all very nice, but what I think has helped me the most, is that I've met people, and befriended people here who actually treated me well. In my old schools for whatever reason, the majority of my friends, weren't really friends. Show us your uniform. It also has increased my confidence. Do you know that there are some people that might be a bit shocked that your spending the school day playing cards. Bridge is a good intellectual exercise. There's some math involved and there's a lot of logic. So it's not just a game, it's useful for learning and stuff. I'm making the 5th scarf this week. Why? Because I can and I just learned how. I like Shakespear. It's just really cool. Are you happy doing this by yourself rather than getting in a teacher? Yeah. It's not that hard. I've been listening to it on youtube, and I'm also reading it at the same time. It gives you sort of an idea of how you should say it. What teachers can do sometimes if a person wants a specific answer to a specific question, they can give them that. But for most of us in life, we go about learning things. I mean, you and I, and anybody else really, if think about their lives. They'll realize that most of what they got out of life they've learned somehow on their own and they've found ways to find out what they want to know, rather than sitting in front of someone who is telling them. So you except then, a child to sort of stumble across Shakespear? Well, no not really, because there sitting and talking and hearing other people stumble across these things. The whole of humanity stumbled across these things. I mean imagine yourself in Shakespearian England. He wasn't even that much more famous than the other people. All of humanity has stumbled over time, over the kinds of things that we now treasure. There's no reason to think that people won't pick out of all the world of information, new things that people will treasure. There are 11 members of staff employed by the school, who keep an eye on the children and their activities. I spend a lot of time walking around and just seeing what's going on. So that if people need anything, they can find somebody and get the help that they're looking for. Do they ever ask you any questions? Oh Sure. Sometimes there more theoretical questions like: "Why are the leaves turning orange?" and sometimes it might be a question about: "What to do about contesting a traffic ticket?", or pretty much anything. Another member of staff is a former pupil who went on to find success in two separate careers. One as a chef and the other as a rock star. Cowboy Macbell is on the left as lead singer with the Joe Perry Project. James Brown says, "I don't want nobody to give me nothing. Just open up the door and I'll get it myself." That's my philosophy. I try to help maintain the music rooms, show people where the door to the music room is, get them in there, and then I kind of stand back and let them get it themselves. This is a place where the teachers don't do it for you. There's no workbook to follow, it's really learning in the trenches. This gives them the freedom to develop their innate ability to learn, and to be prepared for that unknowable future. It's a great experience, it's a real experience. Next to the music rehearsal rooms is an area dedicated to another popular pursuit, video games. Can someone explain to me how this helps you with your learning? I think it helped me a little with my reading abilities, because when I first came here, I wasn't very good at reading because I didn't really find anything that very interesting. And when I first came here, the video games were pretty much text based, you had to be able to read to use them properly, so I basically taught myself how to read with the video games. And with the help of a few interesting books. Books can be found in almost every room in the school, but children are not taught to read. They become literate like everything else, when they want to. What are you working on? Just a story. What is it about? I'm not gonna say. Pupil empowerment extends to running the school. All school meetings make the policy decisions, while a judicial committee enforces the rules. Today, these pupils have been charged with chalking on the pathway in front of the school. The committee decides it amounts to littering. Sudbury Valley is unimpressed by moves toward greater personalization, or negotiated learning. It has to be all or nothing. It's still patronizing. As a matter of fact, it's worse than the most traditional and rigid of the other schools. Traditional schools that are rigid, at least 90% of the people that go there hate them and they know the enemy. A school that is allowing you to have a little bit of freedom, seduces you into thinking that a little bit of freedom, where your really being manipulated, is the real thing, and that opens you to being manipulated all your life. The Sudbury Valley model has been adopted at more than 30 other schools. Mostly in North America, but also on a smaller scale in Denmark, Holland, Belgium, and Germany. Nowhere is it considered the soft option. It's the hardest school to be in, and you ask the kids and they'll tell you it's the hardest school to be in. Why? Because if you're told what to do all day, it's like taking care of you all day, right? You don't have to make decisions. Here, a kid has to make decisions. The kids aren't happy here all day, the kids are thriving all day, and they're active all day. But they go through all the ups and downs of mistakes, of learning from mistakes, of falling on their face and picking themselves up again. It's a very very hard existence, and they have to prioritize their time, and they have to sit and say, "Well, what is it that I really want to do?" They have to really find out who they are. If current trends continue, learners will be taking much greater responsibility for their education. If predictions are correct, technology will emerge to support autonomy in learning, at home, in school, or in the community. Personalization and technology, two drivers for change which are coming together, and creating the potential to revolutionize education for the next generation. It's really a question of where the personalization line will be drawn. But more importantly perhaps, who draws the line, politians, parents, educators, or children themselves.

Video Details

Duration: 9 minutes and 13 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Teacher.TV
Director: Unknown
Views: 265
Posted by: phobe on Apr 11, 2009

The Sudbury Valley School Since 1968

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