Dave asks a great (rhetorical?) question here that begins with << Here’s a question: At what point in your life did what you think become important? >>
Hi Dave, great question. What got you thinking about this?
For me, I don’t think it was until I could vote (18). Not good!
UPDATE 12/3: I was thinking about this today and I think I’m wrong… there are actually LOTS of times when I was a young kid when I felt important. My parents were very good at giving us responsibility and trusting us. Some examples: given freedom and responsibility very young to 1) cook and make food including lunch for school, 2) walk to and from school on my own when in 1st grade or so. 3) own bank account. I remember saving up to by FOOTBALL II — a hand-held video game.
Other memorable experiences of “important”:
- sports: the team is counting on you to play your part. i often pitched and played goalie, so those felt especially important
- boy scouts: I was a patrol leader for several years when I was still quite young
- baby-sitting and lawn-mowing and dog-watching jobs
- In school: I went to traditional public school, but the times of feeling important were anytime I worked on a presentation or report where I knew I knew more about the particular subject than anyone else in the class, including the teacher.
- I will add to this list as I think of more
This question was so important to my wife and I that we moved so our kids could go to Sudbury Valley School (sudval.org) where they can do what they want (all day long!) as long as they are not infringing on other people at school (other students or staff) or doing something dangerous, illegal, etc. The adult staff (no “teachers”) obviously have years of often valuable life experience and as paid employees they have responsibility to take care of the school. So no one is saying the kids are just little adults — but like you say, “what you think matters as much as what anyone else thinks.” So indeed, equal opportunity and one-person one-vote is embedded in the legal by-laws of the school. No puppet strings. 4 year-olds can vote if they want to. They know this, but are mostly happy to not vote until they are older.
Daria: What types of things do the children learn at Sudbury School?
Mimsy: Well, I think they learn every type of thing but there are some things that I think every kid has to learn here because you can’t be here and not learn them. One of those things is to love the outdoors. Kids can spend as much time outside as they want here and that’s very healthy for their minds, their hearts, their souls, their bodies. There’s not a kid who’s gone to school here who doesn’t afterwards talk about how important the outdoors was to them.
(from a radio interview transcript here)
Some typical examples of outdoor/nature play at Sudbury Valley School and other Sudbury Schools:
- Forts and outdoor play at The Circle School
- Some very elaborate outdoor pretend play that goes on for days and weeks at a time
- Outside at Sudbury Valley
- A few photo galleries: The Slate Store, Fishing, Rocks, Forts, Sandbox
- I regularly catch glimpses of basketball, football, ultimate, wiffleball games with kids as young as 4 and as old as 17.
- … Kids still outside doing pretend play or nerf-gun pretend battles or home-brew tag games or playing in the stream, etc. etc. even though it is a late fall afternoon and starting to get dark and is less than 40F. It’s not uncommon to arrive at around 4pm to pick up my kids and there to be 20-30 kids outside. Or to arrive and have only a few kids outside — already eating lunch at the picnic table even though it is 10am and cold.
Just depends on the day.
Here’s a comment from a parent about the musical that SVS students wrote/produced/direction/performed this spring…. I hadn’t thought about that, but they’re right! BTW, the musical was so so amazing. I really loved it.
“After the play, I told the writers that I was impressed they used Kurosawa’s method used in the 1950′s film Rashomon. Where did they learn about the great Japanese master and his pioneering story structures? They told me they never heard of him. I was disappointed, but then I had a revelation. These SVS kids developed a sophisticated technique behind which there is unique philosophical view on what the truth is (or is not) by searching for the most effective way to tell their story. They understood Rashomon without ever seeing or hearing about it. It is a great example of how the SVS experience stimulates high levels of inquiry and understanding(and may save some parents $200K for NYU Film School tuition.)”
Today Jess had a few things to say about a blog post (and comments) linked below about a new Sudbury School that is hoping to open in the Boston metro area in Fall 2014: Continue reading
L (age 5.9): Is it a school day tomorrow?
L: Oh good!
“Like most people I like to tell stories, to talk about things that I know and find interesting and to pass on my skills to others. Most of us do it all the time to the people we interact with closely: to our elders, our peers and especially to children. This makes life in a group interesting and exciting. And that is how we all learn a great deal about new ideas and new ways of thinking or doing things. Seeing others is so fascinating because that is how we enlarge our understanding of the world. It is a natural aspect of the human communal experience and it is the greatest way to acquire knowledge.
However, this is all fine until adults start to impart their knowledge to children, before they are asked for their input. While teaching works like magic when a person asks for information, it is toxic and disruptive when the adult seizes the moment to teach a child something without the child’s consent.”
from: “The Evil Of The Teaching Moment”
Hanna Greenberg, Sudbury Valley School
“At first a number of kids divided the coins into clearly unequal piles. It sparked a debate among the students about what one-half meant. Juárez Correa’s training told him to intervene. But now he remembered Mitra’s research and resisted the urge.”
“… by letting them elect leaders who would decide how to run the class and address discipline. The children elected five representatives, including Paloma and Usiel. When two boys got into a shoving match, the representatives admonished the boys, and the problem didn’t happen again.”
from: “How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses”
(BTW, since this Wired article mentions Sugata Mitra and the “Granny Cloud” let me just state that I am not a big fan, at least as demonstrated in various videos I have seen on youtube. It to me seems like hype/novelty effect/a waste of money. Better to set up some sort of Sudbury School/ Library/ Hackspace sort of environment. The idea I suppose is that an internet connection and volunteer Grannies are much cheaper than doing school right? But I don’t think it has to be expensive. Let the local teachers foster the school community directly — like Sergio Juárez Correa did… mentioned in the article. Connecting with long-distance penpals via Skype… well… “the Grannies” might be fun once a week, but can hardly be thought of as a central part of the school community. But I think that’s the part that Wired is stoked about because it’s the technology part. Too bad. The kids doing their own thing is the actual interesting part, IMHO.)
“The big mystery is why so little student talking goes on in traditional schools. Here are young people who want to know about the world and are desperate to talk about things who are told to be quiet and control themselves. Traditional schools ask students to show restraint at precisely the wrong time in their lives, when they should be questioning and discussing and discovering.”
(Erik: I got in trouble regularly for talking in elementary school and onward…)
The World Happiness Report — a UN analysis of average happiness of countries — has an item that is one of maybe 7 factors they use to gauge overall (average) happiness:
“Freedom to make life choices” is the national average of responses to the question “Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with your freedom to choose what you do with your life?”
Guess what? The US doesn’t do all that well on that measure. So much for Land of the Free. I suspect it is because we think things like cars and single family homes in suburbia are desirable things. But it actually feels freer to live WITHOUT a car in an area with access to great public transportation, health care, etc. There’s probably a psychological or sociological term for this but it’s not coming to me right now.
This was a great note from Mountain Laurel Sudbury School. But it’s in Facebook, so I include it here so it doesn’t get lost…
IT’S NOT ABOUT ALTERNATIVE
October 3, 2013 at 4:03pm
We try very hard to make sure we’re clear about our model. That it isn’t about a rigid dogma, but about trusting children with responsible freedom. Yet, for all our talk, some prospective parents will only hear what they want to hear. That we’re alternative. That if we’re alternative, we must subscribe to a certain set of alternative beliefs and practices.
Yes, in a place where there is freedom, all walks of life will be welcome. This will include people who would be considered alternative. But it does not guarantee it.
So, these potential parents will become quite distraught the first time they see something that doesn’t fit within their own particular alternative ideology. When a kid eats processed food. When there’s screen time. When the students don’t all have to do the same thing together. And we’re left explaining, yet again, that Sudbury schools don’t police students’ actions like that.
It’s not about being alternative. It’s about being free.
ORIGINAL WAS HERE: https://www.facebook.com/notes/mountain-laurel-sudbury-school/its-not-about-alternative/584913244878917