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A Sudbury school is a type of school, usually for the K-12 age range, where students have complete responsibility for their own education, and the school is run by a direct democracy in which students and staff are equal citizens.Students use their time however they wish, and learn as a by-product of ordinary experience rather than through coursework. There is no predetermined educational syllabus, prescriptive curriculum or standardized instruction. This is a form of democratic education. Daniel Greenberg, one of the founders of the original Sudbury Model school, writes that the two things that distinguish a Sudbury Model school are that everyone is treated equally (adults and children together) and that there is no authority other than that granted by the consent of the governed.
While each Sudbury Model school operates independently and determines their own policies and procedures, they share a common culture.The intended culture within a Sudbury school has been described with such words as freedom, trust, respect, responsibility and democracy.
The name 'Sudbury' originates from the Sudbury Valley School, founded in 1968 in Framingham, Massachusetts, near Sudbury, Massachusetts. Though there is no formal or regulated definition of a Sudbury Model school, there are now more than 60 schools that identify themselves with Sudbury around the world. Some, though not all, include "Sudbury" in their name. These schools operate as independent entities and are not formally associated in any way.
Sudbury schools are based on:
"The fundamental premises of the school are simple: that all people are curious by nature; that the most efficient, long-lasting, and profound learning takes place when started and pursued by the learner; that all people are creative if they are allowed to develop their unique talents; that age-mixing among students promotes growth in all members of the group; and that freedom is essential to the development of personal responsibility."
All aspects of governing a Sudbury school are determined by the weekly school meeting, modeled after the traditional New England town meeting.School Meeting passes, amends and repeals school rules, manages the school's budget, and decides on hiring and firing of staff. Each individual present—including students and staff—has an equal vote, and most decisions are made by simple majority.
School rules are normally compiled in a law book, updated repeatedly over time, which forms the school's code of law. Usually, there is a set procedure to handle complaints, and most of the schools follow guidelines that respect the idea of due process of law. There are usually rules requiring an investigation, a hearing, a trial, a sentence, and allowing for an appeal,generally following the philosophy that students face the consequences of their own behavior.
The Sudbury pedagogical philosophy may be summarized as the following: Learning is a natural by-product of all human activity.Learning is self-initiated and self-motivated.
The educational model states that there are many ways to learn and that learning is a process someone does, not a process that is done to him or her;According to the model the presence and guidance of a teacher is not necessary.
The free exchange of ideas and free conversation and interplay between people provides broad exposure to areas that may prove relevant and interesting to students. Students are of all mixed ages. The older students learn from younger students and vice versa. The presence of older students provides role models, both positive and negative, for younger students. The pervasiveness of play has led to a recurring observation by first-time visitors to a Sudbury school that the students appear to be in perpetual "recess".
Implicitly and explicitly, students are given responsibility for their own education: The only person designing what a student will learn is the student. Exceptions are when a student asks for a particular class or arranges an apprenticeship. Sudbury schools do not compare or rank students—the school requires no tests, evaluations, or transcripts.
Reading is treated the same as any other subject: Students learn to read when they choose, or simply by going about their lives.
"Only a few kids seek any help at all when they decide to learn. Each child seems to have their own method. Some learn from being read to, memorizing the stories and then ultimately reading them. Some learn from cereal boxes, others from game instructions, others from street signs. Some teach themselves letter sounds, others syllables, others whole words. To be honest, we rarely know how they do it, and they rarely tell us."
Sudbury Valley School claims that all of their students have learned to read. While students learn to read at a wide variety of ages, there appears to be no drawback to learning to read later: No one who meets their older students could guess the age at which they first learned to read.
The model differs in some ways from other types of democratic schools and free schools, but there are many similarities:
Unschooling is an informal learning that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. Unschoolers learn through their natural life experiences including play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction. Often considered a lesson- and curriculum-free implementation of homeschooling, unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the more personal learning is, the more meaningful, well-understood and therefore useful it is to the child. While courses may occasionally be taken, unschooling questions the usefulness of standard curricula, fixed times at which learning should take place, conventional grading methods in standardized tests, forced contact with children in their own age group, the compulsion to do homework, regardless of whether it helps the learner in their individual situation, the effectiveness of listening to and obeying the orders of one authority figure for several hours each day, and other features of traditional schooling in the education of each unique child.
The Sudbury Valley School was founded in 1968 by a community of people in Framingham, Massachusetts, United States. As of 2019, there are several schools that state that they are based on the Sudbury Model in the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Japan and Switzerland.
An alternative school is an educational establishment with a curriculum and methods that are nontraditional. Such schools offer a wide range of philosophies and teaching methods; some have strong political, scholarly, or philosophical orientations, while others are more ad hoc assemblies of teachers and students dissatisfied with some aspect of mainstream or traditional education.
Minimally invasive education (MIE) is a form of learning in which children operate in unsupervised environments. The methodology arose from an experiment done by Sugata Mitra while at NIIT in 1999, often called The Hole in the Wall, which has since gone on to become a significant project with the formation of Hole in the Wall Education Limited (HiWEL), a cooperative effort between NIIT and the International Finance Corporation, employed in some 300 'learning stations', covering some 300,000 children in India and several African countries.
Democratic education is an educational ideal in which democracy is both a goal and a method of instruction. It brings democratic values to education and can include self-determination within a community of equals, as well as such values as justice, respect and trust.
The Circle School is a self-directed democratic school located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and founded in 1984, and is operated similarly to the Sudbury Valley School and Hudson Valley Sudbury School. It enrolls pre-kindergarten through high school aged children. The Circle School currently has approximately 80 students enrolled and 6 full-time staff members. It is one of three Sudbury-like schools in Pennsylvania and one of the oldest in the world.
Human rights education is defined as the learning process that builds up the required knowledge, values, and proficiency of human rights of which the objective is to develop an acceptable human rights culture. This type of learning teaches students to examine their experiences from the human rights point of view enabling them to integrate these concepts into their values and decision-making. According to Amnesty International, human rights education is a way to empower people so that they can create skills and behavior that would promote dignity and equality within the community, society, and all over the world.
Sands School is a democratic school in Ashburton, Devon in England.
Critical consciousness, conscientization, or conscientização in Portuguese, is a popular education and social concept developed by Brazilian pedagogue and educational theorist Paulo Freire, grounded in post-Marxist critical theory. Critical consciousness focuses on achieving an in-depth understanding of the world, allowing for the perception and exposure of social and political contradictions. Critical consciousness also includes taking action against the oppressive elements in one's life that are illuminated by that understanding.
Freedom to Learn (FTL) is a statewide education program in Michigan helping schools create high performing, student-centered learning environments by providing each student and teacher with direct, consistent access to 21st century learning tools.
The Beach School was a democratic free school in Toronto based on the Sudbury principles of education. The model has two basic tenets: educational freedom and democratic governance. Small and independent, The Beach School was a community of self-motivated learners, aged 4–19, who determined their own curriculum, and each had an equal voice in school governance. Located at 42 Edgewood Ave near Kingston Road and Dundas Street East, the school opened in the fall of 2003 and closed in June 2008 owing to a shortage of students. The Beach School was incorporated as a co-operative and, at the time of closing, was one of two Sudbury schools in Canada; the only one in Ontario.
Student-directed teaching is a teaching technology that aims to give the student greater control, ownership, and accountability over his or her own education. Developed to counter institutionalized, mass, schooling, student-directed teaching allows students to make their own choices while they learn in order to make education much more meaningful, relevant, and effective.
Fairhaven School was founded in 1998 in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. It is one of over 30 schools based on the Sudbury Model. The model has two basic tenets: educational freedom and democratic governance. It is a private school, attended by children from the ages of 5 to 19. The school was founded by Mark and Kim McCaig after learning about Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, Massachusetts.
Yaacov Hecht , is an Israeli educator and worldwide pioneer of democratic education.
Daniel A. Greenberg, one of the founders of the Sudbury Valley School, has published several books on the Sudbury model of school organization, and has been described by Sudbury Valley School trustee Peter Gray as the "principal philosopher" among its founders. He is a former physics professor at Columbia University, and is described by Lois Holzman as the school's "chief 'philosophical writer'".
An ungraded school is a school that does not formally organize students according to age-based grade levels. Students' achievements are assessed by teachers, and each student is individually assigned to one of several fluid groups, according to what the student needs to learn next.
The Philadelphia Free School also known as Philly Free School or PFS, is a Democratic Free School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Philly Free School operates on the democratic education or Sudbury school model. The school opened in the fall of 2011 and offers a sliding scale tuition to students ages 4 to 19.
The Albany Free School is the oldest independent, inner-city alternative school in the United States. Founded by Mary Leue in 1969 based on the English Summerhill School philosophy, the free school lets students learn at their own pace. It has no grades, tests, or firm schedule: students design their own daily plans for learning. The school is self-governed through a weekly, democratic all-school meeting run by students in Robert's Rules. Students and staff alike receive one equal vote apiece. Unlike Summerhill-style schools, the Albany Free School is a day school that serves predominantly working-class children. Nearly 80 percent of the school is eligible for reduced-price meals in the public schools. About 60 students between the ages of three and fourteen attend, and are staffed by six full-time teachers and a number of volunteers.
The term learning environment can refer to an educational approach, cultural context, or physical setting in which teaching and learning occur. The term is commonly used as a more definitive alternative to "classroom", but it typically refers to the context of educational philosophy or knowledge experienced by the student and may also encompass a variety of learning cultures—its presiding ethos and characteristics, how individuals interact, governing structures, and philosophy. In a societal sense, learning environment may refer to the culture of the population it serves and of their location. Learning environments are highly diverse in use, learning styles, organization, and educational institution. The culture and context of a place or organization includes such factors as a way of thinking, behaving, or working, also known as organizational culture. For a learning environment such as an educational institution, it also includes such factors as operational characteristics of the instructors, instructional group, or institution; the philosophy or knowledge experienced by the student and may also encompass a variety of learning cultures—its presiding ethos and characteristics, how individuals interact, governing structures, and philosophy in learning styles and pedagogies used; and the societal culture of where the learning is occurring. Although physical environments do not determine educational activities, there is evidence of a relationship between school settings and the activities that take place there.