Category Archives: Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

In our schools… participatory budgeting?

Well I learned a new term today: “participatory budgeting”

It was being discussed on “Innovation Hub” in a segment about civic engagement

It was mentioned that the city of Cambridge MA does some participatory budgeting for part of it’s budget.
“The City of Cambridge is launching a pilot Participatory Budgeting (PB) process in which community members will directly decide how to spend $500,000 in FY 2016 capital funds.”

Both concepts seem to be alive and well at Sudbury Schools and maybe some other style democratic free schools. But perhaps pretty much at no other schools that I am aware of.

What if you asked the parents or (gasp!) the teachers or (double gasp!) the students how they think the school should spend it’s budget? How reasonable! How obvious!

At Sudbury Valley School there is a Financial Management Committee that is made up School Meeting members (students and staff). Each spring, they prepare and present the budget and it is discussed over several meetings, and approved by School Meeting.

Voila. Participatory Budgeting. No taxation without representation and all that…

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Filed under direct democracy, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

6 degrees of separation, wikipedia style

Maybe someone has already done this, but there should be a “6-degrees of Kevin Bacon” except using various entries on

For instance, it is 2 clicks from Helicopter Parent to Sudbury School

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Filed under Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

Boys looking miserable in school photos

Is it me or do schools *in their own literature* often show a classroom setting where the kids (and especially THE BOYS?) are looking either miserable, or at least, bored out of their minds? Doesn’t anyone notice and think “Hmmm, maybe we should pick a better photo to represent our school?”

I might have to start collecting some. But here is an example that came to mind so I’ll just include it here as a start.

Versus here are some typical student photos from a Sudbury School, namely Sudbury Valley School. Let me know if you see any glum, disengaged faces here:

Anyway, just an observation. Maybe I am wrong. But to me this is rather telling.

See also:
Installment 1 of the subtle (and usually not so subtle) mentions of how school is not fun, not supposed to be fun, and everyone knows it and that’s just how it is and has to be

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Filed under Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School, systemic problems vs personal problems

Things you shouldn’t have to go through just because you have a daughter

First World Problem I know… but…. When visiting Disney World or going on a Disney Cruise, get ready for employees, crew members, etc to call your daughter “Princess” 10 times a day. Are they calling my sons “Prince”. Uh no. If it were my daughter, I am not sure what I would do… since I am kinda slow with words when caught of guard with such ridiculousness, I would probably have to prepare an answer for “next time”. I know I am not going to change anything, especially since it is probably Disney company policy, but just something to be aware of if you are a parent who is sick of our kids being treated this way. I am not being “PC”… this just actually feels very wrong to me. Like constant “what a pretty dress!” comments to girls and men calling women “girls”. Uh, no. Same thing.

Examples from Google

Especially ridiculous example:
“Q: We are planning a visit to WDW the first week in May. My 4yr old daughter is not a princess. I don’t want her called that all day. It will upset her. What is the best way to handle this?”

See also: benevolent sexism
That seems like a good term for this.

Luckily my boys… 1) are boys 2) go to Sudbury Valley School where this kind of baloney doesn’t go on. And 3) (if I do say so myself) have somewhat enlightened parents who call this kind of crap out at every turn when we are watching TV or out-and-about. So they are probably pretty aware of it rather than it floating around unseen or un-examined in their brains.

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Filed under contrarian, kids are complete people, sexism, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

Blended learning at Sudbury Valley School

So… there is this thing apparently… called Blended Learning. And I am sorry, but this is just another case where I can’t help but say… yes, but students at Sudbury Valley School have been doing this for 45+ years. What’s the big deal?

Wikipedia ( ) says blended learning is when “…a student learns at least in part through delivery of content and instruction via digital and online media with some element of student control over time, place, path, or pace.”

1) partially digital/online content — CHECK
2) student control over time, place, path or pace — CHECK

That’s because:
1) There is no curriculum at Sudbury Schools
2) And there is free access to the internet and all forms of media.

So yeah, blended learning, flip the classroom, mentoring, etc. Knock yourself out. Whatever works for you. That’s the important thing.


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Filed under mentoring / apprenticeship, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

amused condescension

It’s hard to resist amused condescension, but it’s the right thing to do. It’s powerful to treat kids as equals.

Performing Monkeys

“The speech [from a youngster] was serious, yet there was an almost constant hum of chuckles and laughter throughout. At the end, she received a standing ovation. As I watched the video, I couldn’t stop thinking, “Those adults would never have responded to another adult the way they responded to Sydney.””

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Filed under Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

You have your whole life to refine your mind…

You have your entire life to refine your mind. But if you don’t refine your body when you are a kid, you might struggle your entire life! And who likes being overweight? No one, last I checked!

Does school teach the following? Do parents know?

1. Childhood obesity has been found to be the greatest risk factor for premature death due to chronic disease.
2. Many adult cancers are linked to poor childhood nutrition.
3. May 2008 in the journal Nature — “…people who got fat during childhood may find it more difficult to shift the weight later in life”

Yesterday one of my kids came home from school and informed me that he was outside and running around for “6 hours” that day — fort-building, ultimate frisbee games, a 3-way tag/capture-the-flag game that someone had invented, etc, etc. He only went inside to sign-in and out, use the bathroom, and grab his lunch (which he ate outside).

More at:

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Filed under play, sports and outdoors, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School