Freedom & Democracy in Education is a new discussion group in NYC exploring the Sudbury School model of education.
If you were to visit a Sudbury school, you would find individuals and groups of age mixed kids and young adults from 4 to 19 years old, talking, playing, reading, thinking, watching, exploring, doing anything they might choose to do, in different areas of the school. You would also see adult staff members present but taking a back seat and providing input only when students reach out to them for it. You would see a school meeting take place where everyone, students and staff alike, have an equal say in establishing and enforcing the rules of the school from determining how the various departments operate like the the kitchen and music room for example, to what the specific consequences for an infraction are going to be, to determining salaries, staffing and school budgets.
This is a profoundly different scene from what we are used to at school. No regimented teaching. No testing. No prescribed curriculum. No age segregated classes. No adults making the rules and administering the structure and content to kids. All of these adult-driven authoritarian constructs have been replaced by a peer-based open framework of freedom and democracy. In a nutshell, kids spending their time freely, in whatever way they choose, in a community they help run as a participatory democracy.
In existence since 1967, today there are 30+ Sudbury schools around the world and growing, and together they represent significant experience putting this model into practice. They find that their students are self confident, articulate, happy, know themselves well, are comfortable with risk, good with people, collaborative, creative, competitive with themselves but not against others, are analytical, have an inner calm, a strong sense of responsibility, tend to interact in a non authoritarian democratic mode, are good at working towards finding their passion in life, and do extremely well in post secondary education and in their lives generally.
Discussing the rationale for the Sudbury model will be a main focus of this group. We will explore how the Sudbury model fits with the way we learn and develop. We will look at questions like: What it means as a young person to have to decide what you are going to do with your time at school. What does spending time focused on your own interests do to the learning process. How does being in a free setting with a high level of trust and respect, affect ones sense of personal responsibility. What are the learning dynamics in age mixing. And the list goes on.
Unfamiliar territory to most of us, discussing and exploring the Sudbury model opens up a wealth of new experiences and knowledge. It has significant implications for how we educate and even for society as a whole at a time when we are seeing signs of needed change in our educational and other social systems.
This is a new group. If you'd like to explore this, come help get it started!