What Is a Sudbury School?

Dreary and dull, everyone stays inside. There is the occasional band of sunlight shining through the blinds but all else is scarce. Hundreds go with this pattern. Show up, sit down, and listen. This is a place of forced participation, do what goal is personally set for you every day and leave. Some leave preemptively, drop-outs.

Those people leave without hope for their future, yet still hopeful. Those happy few that escape always seems to enjoy their decision. Self righteousness? Maybe. In a nation full of these facilities, we humble many are mute. They call this phenomenon ‘school’. Here’s a question though, is there a better way? Can we have our cake and eat it too? Education is important, but can it be interesting, engaging, and something we want to do as opposed to something we have to do? There is something called a Sudbury School, and this Sudbury School thing is exactly what we’re looking for.

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An education system that is based entirely on being what the kid wants to do. Sounds great right? Well maybe if you’re a carefree student, but no, it gets better then that. The system is based on the kids being bored all day until they decide to do something. This sounds more like normal school, but hold on. The purpose of this is to have the child decide to pursue what they like, eventually just deciding to do what they enjoy, that thing being anywhere from music to gaming.

From there kids do get curious, asking more of what they love. This can’t be real! OH but it is! These kids in sudbury schools don’t just sit around being unproductive on video games either. Eventually you’ll think of what you want to do, those things changing constantly just because it’s natural to get bored of something. So this child decides ‘Eh, I’m bored of this videogame, I wonder…’ and pursues something a lot deeper than mashing buttons. Does it actually work? Do these kids get their education? Well, depends what you mean.

If you mean standard core algebra, then only a couple kids did. If you mean did the kids learn something productive that will put them into the workforce ready, then yes, they are more educated than us in that. Comparing data from the NCHEMS (which is an organization for ‘higher’ education) to data from Sudbury Valley on their students according to CNN we get an interesting pattern. How many students go from high school to college in the current system? 62.5% across the country, with local numbers being sometimes higher and sometimes lower. How about for Sudbury Valley? 90% of students go from school to college.

If that’s not a leap I don’t know what is. That’s insane! Them little kiddins don’t stop there. There are systems in place to be a ‘democratic’ school. Heck that’s one of the basic points of Sudbury schools. But this does not mean a student council. Oh no, that’s thinking inside the box.

In the Sudbury system, students and staff have the same power and say in school decisions. Yea, that’s exactly what I meant to say. Students and staff work together to solve problems and make decisions. May I throw into the equation that Sudbury schooling is 1st-12th grade. There are 10-year-olds, 5-year-olds, 18-year-olds, and 30-something adults voting on the same thing. ‘Oh but that sounds like a bad idea’, well yea, it WOULD be if we freshly implemented it, but these kids aren’t like us.

These kids have a VERY high social intelligence. Basically they talk to people better than we ever could. According to British Psychologist N.K. Humphry, the Sudbury kids are like “‘natural psychologists’ who are able to take into account the consequences of their own behavior, to calculate the likely behaviors of others, to calculate benefits and loses – all in a context where the relevant evidence is ephemeral, likely to change, even as a consequence of their own actions.

” No wonder they can vote! But what about teachers and staff? Surely this sucks for them, from unemployment to overworking, they have to hate their jobs! Well, no. Staff at Sudbury schools are actually a lot more at ease given the lack of work, but they also do keep working. Basically according to the Hudson Valley Sudbury School, staff are put into ‘clerkships’, to which specify a task that is their job. So an office clerk would do printing. Doesn’t sound like a teacher right? Well no, there are no ‘teachers’. The ‘teachers’ are there to be role models and examples of functional adults, as well as being assigned their own clerkships.

So while they aren’t really ‘teaching’, they still kind of are by being an example. They help kids to learn and progress the system. They really are a mix of daycare and teacher, but that ‘daycare’ is more for direction and less for taking care of children. But in that general school is just like a daycare, isn’t it? Okay, I get it. School is expensive, and surely this system costs too much to implement, right? Well, no. Getting tired of hearing this yet? Sudbury schools do get minimal, but negligible grants from government.

But besides that they have an entry fee. Now, hear me out. According to the U.S. census, the state that spent the least of schooling per student in 2013 is Utah, at $6,555. That is the LOW number.

The average was $10,700, and the highest was New York $19,818 PER STUDENT. So yea, New York gets it. To give example of this being scalable, Massachusetts is $14,000 to $15,999 spent per pupil according to the census on average. This being said, Sudbury schools cost about $18,000 per student according to data from Massachusetts’ own educational documents. This is negligible to what we we currently spend. But oh, it gets better than this.

The amount given was for 2014-2015, but 2010-2011 seems to be BELOW standard. Lincoln Sudbury was about $17,500, while Sudbury Valley was an astounding $13,000 to which yes, was lower than most other schools in MA at the time; and considering the data we have from the census about 2013, that is below average from MA. When kids are told what to do, when to do it, and are not told why they need to do it because there is no reason, it’s clear there’s a major problem. So in an era of millennials trying to make it in the world and reform the education system, so those who come after can get a better start, can we not look to the other options and attempt at funding those instead. Oh, and trust me, the next generation will prefer Sudbury Schools.

But hey, I would prefer prison to the current system so I guess that’s not that good of a selling point. No matter what way you spin it, this system just seems better for the future of children, the workforce and staff, and education in general. “What Do Staff Do at HVSS?” Hudson Valley Sudbury School. N.p., n.

d. Web. 19 Oct. 2016. Wilson, Jacque. “Unschoolers Learn What They Want, When They Want.

“CNN. Cable News Network, 03 Aug. 2011. Web. 19 Oct. 2016.

@PsychToday. “Children Educate Themselves IV: Lessons from Sudbury Valley.” Psychology Today. N.p., n.

d. Web. 19 Oct. 2016. By Now, the Notion of Social Intelligence–or, Rather, the Acute Intellectual Demands of Complex Social Life [emphasis Added]—has Become the Leading Paradigm among Anthropologists” (Leakey, 1992, Pp.

286-287). Leakey Goes On:. “The Preeminent Intelligence – Social IQ | Educationfutures.org.” Educationfuturesorg. N.

p., n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2016.

“College Participation Rates: College-Going Rates of High School Graduates – Directly from High School.” HigherEdInfo: College-Going Rates of High School Graduates. N.p., n.d.

Web. 24 Oct. 2016.