Sea Levels

Did you know?

Not an unusual event, now just a regular occurrence:

“The city of Miami Beach floods on such a predictable basis that if, out of curiosity or sheer perversity, a person wants to she can plan a visit to coincide with an inundation…. Knowing the tides would be high around the time of the “super blood moon,” in late September, I arranged to meet up with Hal Wanless, the chairman of the University of Miami’s geological-sciences department. …Water gushed down the road and into an underground garage. We stopped in front of a four-story apartment building, which was surrounded by a groomed lawn. Water seemed to be bubbling out of the turf.”

and generally…
“Seas Are Rising at Fastest Rate in Last 28 Centuries”

Good luck to us!

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Filed under climate change, person: Elizabeth Kolbert

Why history and not botany?

“Why school subjects ever came to be standardized I cannot guess.  Why history and not botany?  Geography and not geology?  Maths and not civics?  I think the lesson may lie in the words of the old public-school headmaster: ‘It doesn’t matter what you teach a boy so long as he dislikes it.’  — A.S. Neill from p104 of Summerhill School: A New View of Childhood

“All that any child needs is the three Rs; the rest should be tools and clay and sports and theatre and paint and freedom. … I am not decrying learning.  But learning should only come after play.  And learning should not be deliberately seasoned with play to make it palatable.” p102

“Creators learn what they want to learn in order to have the tools that their originality and genius demand.  We do not know how much creation is killed in the classroom with its emphasis on learning.” p108

Summerhill School: A New View of Childhood by A. S. Neill

SEE ALSO: Guest Post by Jess
“…I’d just like to point out that the subjects that are chosen are, well, chosen…why biology and not botany, why algebra and not agriculture…”

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Filed under curriculum, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

Woohoo! Yeah!

“Woohoo! Yeah!” (yelled at the top of his lungs)

This is my (newly) 8-year-old son’s reaction to his realization that tomorrow is Monday and there is school (Sudbury Valley School).

What joy this joy brings to his dad’s heart!

Not that he is always this totally pumped for school… he’s a home-body kinda kid, so “transition-time” can be difficult for him even, but he’s never particularly fussed once he gets in the mood and gathers his gear and projects he’s working on. And there’s never really been “Sunday-night-blues” (in anticipation of the coming week) to speak of with either of our kids.

But turning 8 means a few new “big kid” privileges and responsibilities at school, and he is excited and ready for them!

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Filed under journal, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

Causes of Students’ Emotional Fragility: Five Perspectives

“I am not interested in blaming students, or parents, or teachers, or anyone else. I am interested in understanding what is happening, and why, and what we as individuals and as a society can do to improve the situation.”

Peter Gray

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Filed under person: Peter Gray, structural, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

School for entrepreneurs?

Our family loves SVS, but I am not sure I buy the argument that there are (FOR SURE) a higher percentage of graduates who are entrepreneurs than there are at other schools.

At least not BECAUSE OF Sudbury Valley. Well, maybe. But… here’s what I think:

1. Many students who attend SVS or other Sudbury schools probably are correlated with types of people who go on to be entrepreneurs. So it’s not SVS… it’s the people.

2. Also, many of the parents who choose to have their young kids attend SVS even before they have an inkling of their personalities, but rather based on the ideals of the school only (like my wife and I who knew we wanted SVS for our kids even before it existed) are probably also skewed toward entrepreneurial dispositions, so their kids inherit some of that.

I say “probably” in 1 and 2 above, but who knows. Switch that with “maybe” if you wish. Point is, we don’t know.

If you look at Table 14.7 on page 241 of “Legacy of Trust: Life After The Sudbury Valley School Experience”, 7 of 27 of the “SVS ONLY” category are classified as “Entrepreneurial Occupations (Any Category)”. That’s 26%. That’s probably still high (no way are 26% of the population entrepreneurs**…), but is it high among kids whose parents who are similarly entrepreneurial and able to afford private school but attend other schools? (SVS is very inexpensive as private schools go… ~$8,000, but not free).

Anyway, I guess my point is that this is an unknown as far as I am concerned, but this doesn’t concern me. What I *do* care is that my kids ARE FREE. AND HAPPY. RIGHT NOW. At ages 4-18. Not waiting for age 18.

So for me, SVS has some huge “every day, right now” positives, which will also certainly pay benefits for my kids in later happiness as well. And sure, it might have some “some day in the future, maybe” negatives. But for me the positives FAR outweigh any potential negatives, especially because they are completely uncertain.


10,000 Hours

Hal Sadofsky — Sudbury vs traditional school — the risky choice

**NOTE: I am also not sure what the definition anyone is using of entrepreneur.  To me it’s not simply being self-employed.  It has to (for me) include a business venture where one is taking on more risk with most of the work being delegated to employees and such.)  See discussion: LINK

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Filed under entrepreneurs, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School, SVS alumni

Sudbury Valley School – a risky choice?

Q: “Is Sudbury Valley School for everyone?”

A: (former student, Hal Sadofsky): “Lots of times I talk to people about the school and they sorta say, “Well, didn’t your parents worry about this? Didn’t they worry about taking this big chance by sending you to this really weird place and what was going to happen?” And I try to sort of turn it on it’s head–I say, “Well, it seems to me that the people who should be worried are the people who are sending their kids to a traditional school. It’s not that you can be *sure* that if you send your kids to a traditional school that something terrible will happen, but you’re taking a big risk. [Be]cause what you’re doing is you’re taking this kid and you’re saying ‘OK, from now on, you don’t get to decide things, other people decide things for you.’ And maybe, maybe after 12 years of that, your kid comes out all right, but it’s a big chance to take. Sudbury Valley–I think–is no risk at all.”

Q: “…I don’t think it’s quite so black and white…”

A: (Hal Sadofsky) “I don’t think it’s black and white that if you go to a traditional school that something disastrous will always happen to you. But to me, it does seem black and white that traditional school is the risky scenario where things can come out in many unfortunate ways, and that Sudbury Valley is a sort of relatively healthy and safe scenario. That’s the sense in which I see it as black and white.”

— Hal Sadofsky, former student

from video: Part 11 of 13, 25th anniversary talk by alumni about SVS

SVS 25th ann Restrospective 11 – Questions pt2 (at 1min15sec)

(And there’s more great stuff in there as well of course…)

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Filed under Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School, SVS alumni

Harkness/Exeter vs Sudbury

I was recently reading about the “Harkness Method” first used at Phillips Exeter Academy in the 1930s.

Seems to basically be the Socratic Method/graduate school seminar style teaching with ideally no more than 12-13 people.
The basic idea makes some sense but lots of complaints too.
Here’s one rant:

Pros: able to discuss ideas not just facts, not just teaching to the test, discussion not lecture. (I think a flipped-classroom could do this too. As could a larger lecture using an electronic “Student Response System”.)

Summary of Cons:
– if teacher lets clueless and extroverted people talk too much
– if quiet students don’t speak up but grades depend on it
– if students aren’t prepared
– if students like to learn on their own

So I guess like just about anything, something that seems like it could be very useful if done properly, is still probably bad or at best useless or more-of-the-same to many people depending on their preferred learning style. Oh, and their interest in a topic.  I don’t think it’s going to magically make you interested in history if that’s not your thing.  Ken Burns maybe.  Probably not Harkness.

In other words, I still find that FREEDOM is the way to go. Choose a book or textbook, choose a seminar, choose a youtube video, choose a friend to talk with. And freedom to be a little interested, somewhat or very — without someone full of expectations and looking for teachable moments. And ultimately, the freedom to quit. Where else can you get that at the K-12 level except a Sudbury School or Democratic Free School?

Researchers know now that lots of behavior and goals (and bad habits!) are socially contagious. (See for example the myriad of references in Chapter 8 of “The Willpower Instinct” by Kelly McGonigal. So being surrounded by a group of free peers for a few hours each day is likely to be a pretty ideal situation — that’s a Sudbury School.

I also think that there is something difficult to describe about being in situations for 5-6 (or more!) hours a day for 180 days times 14 years of your life where there is someone who is the authority and expert (the teacher) that really warps the mind in ways that are difficult to fully appreciate.  Someone tell me because I don’t know: “Do I know enough yet?” and really “Am I fully a person yet?” So extrinsic.  

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Filed under kids -- freedom and responsibility, kids are complete people, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School, teaching