Category Archives: alternative education

Sudbury Valley and Free Kids related links – 5/15/2014

When Adults Take Over Children’s Fun

“Schoolification” of Sports (from the unschool subreddit)

Interview with Hanna Rosin (news report video)
“The Overprotected Kid.”

A Useful Reminder: Louis C.K. Was Bad Before He Was Good

“I could see that the experience of meeting her was confusing to many of them. They were at the conference in support of learning through play, but here was a young woman who really had learned through play—through true, self-directed play, without coercion—and they found it hard to believe. I wish Nina had been invited as one of the principal speakers.”

The (Mandatory) Science Fair….
“Parent1: You mean I get an A on his science project?”

How to find the perfect job… from Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs)

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The post linked here talks about the types of fear we have in discussing change in schooling:

The problem I have with this is that it I think we can do quite well by simply living by example. Yes, there is even fear in this. But it doesn’t need to go the next level and be a movement like “Occupy”. We can just choose alternative options for our kids — homeschooling, Sudbury or other democratic schools, Montessori, Waldorf, etc. Others will see this and it will gradually build.

The problem with this is… parents need real choice for school for their kids without the burden of worrying about $$/tuition. I don’t think vouchers will work, because there will always be strings attached for assessment/testing and many parents don’t want that. Better to head in the direction of more local control.

Maybe ideally it would be more like college in the US. Where most people pay mostly out of pocket, but there is need-based aid available.

That way, property taxes could go way down (since in many areas, half goes to the public schools), and people would be free to use that extra money saved on school. So it would be close to “tax neutral”. And people without kids would not be penalized.

I am sure I am over-simplifying because there are lots and lots of people who work in education–teachers, administrators, textbook writers, and on and on–and many will resist because it will impact their livelihood directly. That’s understandable.

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The SVS Report: May 10, 2013

The school report according to my fired-up oldest after bursting in the door: “Tons of running! — newcomb, soccer, ultimate…”

What? No pickle or “capture”? Not today I guess. ;-) And we rode our bikes to and from today.

(I’ll report back on a rainy day when it is all inside play for comparison.)

And really, I have no idea what his day was really like. Except that he loves going to school. That’s what is important. The rest I trust will take care of itself.

And BTW, the reason it works I think:
1. People are naturally curious and have a innate desire to figure out the world and their place in it and what they want to do — day-to-day, next week, and when they “grow up”.
2. Schools don’t raise kids, families do.
3. His time at school is HIS time. No judgement.

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Experiences of ADHD-Labeled Kids Who Switch from Conventional Schooling to Homeschooling or Unschooling

“My analysis of these stories suggests that (1) most ADHD-diagnosed kids do fine without drugs if they are not in a conventional school; (2) the ADHD characteristics don’t vanish when the kids leave conventional school, but the characteristics are no longer as big a problem as they were before; and (3) ADHD-diagnosed kids seem to do especially well when they are allowed to take charge of their own education.”


Experiences of ADHD-Labeled Kids Who Switch from Conventional Schooling to Homeschooling or Unschooling

These kids and parents manage ADHD better without conventional schooling.
Published on September 9, 2010 by Peter Gray in Freedom to Learn

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How to Run a Good School

How to Run a Good School? Well I think it’s suprisingly similar to How To Run a Good Conference**.

While Khan Academy talks about “flipping the classroom” (watch lectures at home, do homework in school… or collaborate on projects?), it’s still mostly going to be on topics that someone else picks. That’s interesting, but it’s still the curriculum model.

So that’s why the conference analogy is more compelling. There we have willing participants, choosing the topics THEY are interested in. What’s on the menu?

At some point someone other than advocates of Sudbury Schools might notice. I’m exaggerating, but perhaps not much!

(**from a 16-year-old Aaron Swartz in 2002)

Dave Winer, on rebooting conferences/bloggercon/unconferences (there are several other posts by him on the topic both newer and older)
– Flipping the classroom

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The new normal

“Kids learn to speak, lose baby teeth and hit puberty at a variety of ages. We might remind ourselves that the ability to settle into being a focused student is simply a developmental milestone; there’s no magical age at which this happens.”

Raising the Ritalin Generation

It’s too bad the author didn’t know about Sudbury schools. Just sayin’.

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Jane McGonigal TED talk: Gaming can make a better world

Watch this TED talk on using gaming to “save the world”. I think it’s quite compelling. Maybe the logic falls apart if one thinks about it more than 18 minutes, but I think there is A LOT of truth to this based on what I see with my own kids and their gaming.

Continue reading

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L’s surprising first day of school… in June!

It was 4 year-old L’s second day at Sudbury Valley School today. (This after months of a complete lack of interest, and now suddenly last week, “I want to go.” What? Really? We’ll see if he really means it…)

At the end of the day today, I had to leave and come back almost an hour later to try again because… he wouldn’t leave! He was too involved in an art project and would almost not acknowledge my presence, at least when the subject of “OK, time to go!” came up. He had also said on the 10am car-ride to school, “I’m eating my lunch as soon as I get there!” Go for it, I said. (There is of course no set “lunch time” at SVS.) But he forgot by the time we arrived. He was too busy!

Older brother A would occasionally pop into the art room (or wherever) to check on him. What a sweet, caring kid. Come on people, this is beyond awesome. All around me as I walk around the school and outside are kids from families… they are not age-segregated off in separate rooms, classes or grades. They are truly together (or very much not!) but the point is it is their choice. Kids age 4 thru high school.

And some of them actually know where their shoes are when I come to round up a carpool of 4 or 5 of them from 2 families. ;-)

I’m not saying SVS is utopia. I am not saying there might not be some disadvantages. (Certainly some us of parents sometimes wish we lived in Framingham or a magic school bus could drive the kids to and fro!) But I really can’t say that any of it could outweigh the advantages. At least for our family, this is real life… now. No waiting for tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, L has asked that he stay “even longer” so that he arrives home later, just before his favorite animal TV show starts. Not so fast mister! Maybe next week… it’s only your third day! Act like you miss me at least a little. Please!?!

LINK: Sudbury Valley School

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Sudbury Valley School — Stop Stealing Dreams

Sudbury Valley School gets a mention in Seth Godin’s eBook “Stop Stealing Dreams” (2012).

Seth, your kids would love SVS!

Here is the excerpt:


34. Responsibility
The Sudbury Valley School was founded during the hippie generation, and has
survived and thrived as an independent school for forty years. From their
introductory handbook:
“The way we saw it, responsibility means that each person has
to carry the ball for himself. You, and you alone, must make
your decisions, and you must live with them. No one should
be thinking for you, and no one should be protecting you
from the consequences of your actions. This, we felt, is essential
if you want to be independent, self-directed, and the
master of your own destiny.”
While this is easy to dismiss as hype or pabulum, what if it’s true? What if you
actually built a school from the ground up with this as its core idea, not just
window dressing? This is precisely what they did.
Students ask for teachers when they wish. They play soccer if they choose. They
take responsibility for everything they do and learn, from the age of six. And it
If a school is seen as a place for encouragement and truth-telling, a place where
students go to find their passion and then achieve their goals, it is not a school we
would generally recognize, because our schools do none of this.


Also mentioned at the end is a book co-authored by Daniel Greenberg, a co-founder and current staff member at SVS.

“133.Bibliography and further reading … “Turning Learning Right Side Up” by Russell Ackoff and Daniel Greenberg”


One comment about the “founded during the hippie generation” lead in above.  I don’t know if it was Seth’s intention to characterize the school as being a “hippie school” because, really, as a parent of a student who has been there 4 years, my comment is that the student population is incredibly diverse.  There is no one type of student or family who sees the appeal of the Sudbury Valley School or any of the few dozen Sudbury Model schools world-wide.  It’s a huge mix.  The school was founded in 1968 and has been going strong for over 40 years.

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More Woodworking with Kids links

Since we (as in… the world) is going to be in an ongoing struggle between globalization and re-localization for the foreseeable future, along with it’s impact on the education of our kids and ourselves, here are a few more links on the topic of woodworking with kids that I started back here. Nothing compares to the thrill my kids get of doing real things with their bodies — skiing, cooking, gardening, sawing logs, etc. (Except Minecraft. And Wild Kratts. And… well, you see the issue.)

So here we go.

- Kindergrarten Shop Class –

Mar 30, 2011 – Teaching children construction is gaining momentum across the country as a way to develop imagination and confidence

- If you’re in the Boston area, Wood is Good occasionally offers classes for kids.

- And The Eliot School, Boston MA offers endless courses for kids including “Very Beginning Woodworking – age 4-6″

- In NC, go to “summer camp” with a 5-day workshop from Roy Underhill. Here’s an example


- Shop Class integral part of this private school for boys

- A great 10 minute video about…
The Blue Ox Mill and Community High School, Eureka CA
A custom mill and woodworking classes for kids and veterans
Eric Hollenbeck

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Filed under alternative education, education, globalization, green, health, homeschooling, homesteading, kids -- freedom and responsibility, local, makerspace, mentoring / apprenticeship, minecraft, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School, unschooling, video games, woodworking / shop class