I've been interested in the Sudbury educational model since reading Summerhill School and then discovering the American version. As much as I agree with the idea of children choosing their own course, steering their own learning, etc., though, something about it has always concerned me.
Lately I've started reading "Hold On To Your Kids" and it's helping me to nail down that concern. The premise of the book, in a poorly stated nutshell, is that much of the dysfunction that our children are experiencing today (and for the last 50 years approximately) is a result of children being primarily peer-oriented rather than adult- or family-oriented. In other words, the peer group is the child's central group - the group from which the child derives his self-image and looks to for guidance. So, a child is looking to other children at the same stage for guidance in the world which leads to an entire group floating out there with none of the anchoring that comes from having role models with real-world experience and wisdom.
Whenever I read about the Sudbury schools I always feel a little nagging concern that there are not more adults present on a routine basis, serving as a guiding force. The adults are there to support and not to impose which, in theory, is great. But I'm curious as to the actual level of support that is given. Are they there only when sought out or are they there as a continuously active, functioning part of the community, serving as an example and an anchor?
These are just rough thoughts and questions off the top of my head and I'd love it if others could help me develop them a bit more.