Category Archives: Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

Bored of Directors

Interesting… reading the corporate bylaws of the kids’ school — Sudbury Valley School​. They are on the board of directors — all students and staff “teachers” are. And yesterday at their weekly meeting, the board (“School Meeting” — like “Town Meeting”) elected the new officers and clerks of the corporation thru next Sept. Some positions are commonly held by staff, but others, including the president of the corporation “School Meeting Chairperson”, the law clerk, and the elections clerk are usually students.

But also interesting… my kids aren’t yet interested and didn’t know about the election, which is fine too.

Related and funny:
Nikole Beckwith (SVS alumna) tells the story of her becoming JC Clerk (judicial committee) and telling the principal of her former school

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Filed under Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School, SVS alumni

curiosity not passion and vocation

Elizabeth Gilbert — her book “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear,” which is part memoir, part how-to for living a life that’s less routine and more curiosity-driven.

A few notes from the interview:

–Greek word: Eudaimonia — the happiness that comes when you are engaged with your creativity at the highest level.
–We more commonly call it “being in the zone” or “a state of flow”

Gilbert on passion and vocation — scrap that and “focus on the tiny, friendly impulse of curiosity which is within all of us”

Her friend who takes up ice skating at age 40… “this is the only thing that makes her feel so alive…”

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Filed under art, creativity, play, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

A for effort. Can a growth mindset itself be developed?

Is teaching a growth mindset possible? (In other words, does a person think their intelligence/talents are fixed traits or that they can be developed?)

“In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.” — Carol Dweck

Dweck thinks so. 10 minute TED talk below complete with brain scans.
(Or play at 1.25 or 1.5 speed! :-)

In the face of difficulty: “I love a challenge”
“You know, I was hoping this would be informative”

The math video game she mentions I guess is this:

Another way of looking at it is… maybe we are all born with a growth mindset, but many of our experiences can pull it out of us. So the idea should be to not so much teach it, as to not suck it out of people in the first place? Flip side of the same idea I guess.

So that’s why I think Sudbury Schools are approaching things in a reasonable way. Whereas I think most traditional schools are very risky in that it is quite likely that they will suck the growth mindset out. Some kids might make it through intact, but it’s a serious risk.

Hal Sadofsky on which is the riskier approach — Sudbury or traditional school

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Filed under growth mindset, mentoring / apprenticeship, nature vs nurture, person: Carol Dweck, raising kids / parenting, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School, talent vs skill, unconditional love, underestimating kids, video games

Whatever you do, don’t go into debt for college

Excerpt from an interview with Ran Prieur at Boing Boing:

Avi: What advice would you give to a smart kid in high school right now?

Ran: My first advice would be: Whatever you do, don’t go into debt for college. This is a point about college that some people don’t understand. And that is, the main thing you learn in college is how to think and act like an educated person.

If your parents both went to college, then they raised you, then you already know how to think and act like an educated person. You don’t need to go to college to learn that. If you come from a lower class family and your parents did not go to college, then college is much more beneficial to you.

People who’ve been to college and learn to think and act that way get a lot more respect in the dominant society. Just the way you say words, the way you carry yourself. So that’s a big benefit of college. You don’t necessarily have to pay tuition to do that. You could learn that by osmosis. Hanging out in a college campus.

When I was in high school, I was completely unmotivated. I did not know how to motivate myself at all. I was just going through the motions. So I went to college because college was the thing to do. It was a lot cheaper back then in the late 80’s when I went to college. My parents had some money saved up so I didn’t have to go on debt for college.

But, boy, I would not want to be a smart kid in high school right now because unless you’re tremendously good at self motivating, it can be hard for you to quit high school and not go to college and find something to do and not just crash and burn.

Maybe I would say go to community college to get your basic stuff out of the way or hang out at a college campus. If you could get a staff job at a college campus, then you can kind of get the college experience, and even take a few classes.

I don’t know. I would not want to be a kid in high school right now. The generation that is coming up now is going to have a really tough time. Be adaptable, that’s the advice I’d give.

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Filed under advice, alternative education, college, person: Ran Prieur, raising kids / parenting, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

Shel Silverstein rockin’ the SVS vibe

The Voice
poem by Shel Silverstein


Sudbury Valley School and Sudbury Model Schools

The Voice

There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel this is right for me,
I know that *this* is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you–just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.

― Shel Silverstein

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Poor Claude (Monet)

“I was born undisciplined. Never, even as a child, could I be made to obey a set rule. What little I know I learned at home. School was always like a prison to me, I could never bring myself to stay there, even four hours a day, when the sun was shining and the sea was so tempting, and it was such fun scrambling over cliffs and paddling in the shallows. Such, to the great despair of my parents, was the unruly but healthy life I lived until I was fourteen or fifteen. In the meantime I somehow picked up the rudiments of reading, writing and arithmetic, with a smattering of spelling. And there my schooling ended. It never worried me very much because I always had plenty of amusements on the side. I doodled in the margins of my books, I decorated our blue copy paper with ultra-fantastic drawings, and I drew the faces and profiles of my schoolmasters as outrageously as I could, distorting them out of all recognition.”

== Claude Monet, quoted in: Denis Rouart (1972) Claude Monet, p. 21 : About his youth

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Filed under outdoors, quotes, school = prison, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School, The three Rs

Ergo, Sudbury Valley School

“Children learn to read the way they learn to talk. Reading, like speaking, is a social activity best taught by communities and through relationships. Children learn by watching older people, especially older children, read. They learn to read by discovering that important things they want to know are in the symbols. They learn to read because of the pleasure of discovery and praise from parents, teachers, siblings, and friends for their achievements. They learn to read because it both makes them part of a broader community and because they become independent of others, more grown up. Children learn to read because it gives them a private place to visit, and because in the end, they learn to love to read because it opens their imaginations to unseen worlds.”

Ergo, Sudbury Valley School

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Filed under collaboration, communication, community, motivation, private, reading, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School