Sudbury Valley Schools - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 06-16-2003, 09:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi!
Anyone here with kids in a Sudbury school that would like to share their experiences and thoughts?

Thanks!
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#2 of 12 Old 06-18-2003, 07:31 AM
 
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Hi momw2. thanks for your question. I was wondering if you wanted to do a quick search since no one is responding. The sudbury valley discussion has come up a few times over the last few years, and there are a few people who like to discuss it, but it seems that most of us do not have much experience with it. Go to the search button and type in sudbury valley. I just did this and quite a few threads from the past couple of years popped up. Let me know if you try it and if it's helpful. Good luck!

Lauren

 
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#3 of 12 Old 06-21-2003, 01:22 PM
 
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Well, I'm your man!

There is probably no question that I have not fielded now, and I'd be only too delighted to explore, debate and relate on MDC.

We have been in the process of establising an SVS model for some years now (gosh, more than ten, and I can hardly believe that!), and took the plunge (more like dipped our toe carefully in, actually) last year when we openend for our first part-time student.

We decided that for this year (accademic year starts in April in Japan) we would run 3 days a week. We suddenly have 7 part-time kids, and others (parents) craning their necks to see what is going on.

a

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#4 of 12 Old 08-26-2003, 09:23 PM
 
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Alexander,

We had decided to homeschool until I heard of these Sudbury schools which sound wonderful to me. Would love to hear your experiences with it. Did your children go to Sundbury school? Thanks!
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#5 of 12 Old 08-27-2003, 10:21 AM
 
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We have established our own for our (and other) children to go to. We have been running for about 4 months (stopped for August).

Everything is running smoother than I had expected. probably because we began 3 days a week, with only a very few students.

a

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#6 of 12 Old 10-03-2003, 02:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, since I asked about Sudbury Schools I thought I'd share our experience. We enrolled our son, soon to be 6, in the Chicago Sudbury School, and it turned out to be a very disappointing experience. The older children that I had hoped would be positive role models for our son sat lethargically (or lay down, more often) watching TV or reading novels.

We were not allowed to ask what our son spent his days doing, but it was clear that the physical energy he had left when he came home (he was climbing the walls) meant that he sat down all the time, and the constant headaches and neckaches turned out to be a result of how he spent his days there; playing games on the computer. There was nothing else for him to do there, some toys for much younger kids, books for older kids and an art room, that was it.

When he developed an excessive interest in his toy guns and fears related to guns (once he wanted to leave the park because he feared someone was going to shoot us from underneath the park bench...) we became worried; this all happened within the first "visiting week". He still liked the school, so we signed up for the next 60 days, as this was the next step in the enrollment procedure.

2 days later I finally found out what kind of games he was playing there; extremely violent ones, where the sole purpose is to use the mouse to manipulate a hand holding a gun in order to shoot to kill as many victims as possible . That was it, if this is what they thought was appropriate for 4-5 year-olds, what else was going on?? Since parents aren't allowed to ask, we had no way of finding out. Parents are also not allowed to be present, the goal is really to protect children from parents, which are seen as a negative force in children's lives (an "outside force", as the teachers, i.e. staff members called it)

We pulled our son from the school, but despite the circumstances and the fact that our son had only attended for 2 days of the 60 days we paid for, they refuse to return our money. Instead we have been belittled as controlling parents (because we didn't wish for our son to play these games) treated with nothing even remotely close to the respect they purport to treat kids with.

All in all the experience was one that I wouldn't wish on anyone. What a surprise, and what a disappointment!
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#7 of 12 Old 10-03-2003, 11:22 AM
 
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momw2,

Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I find it incredible that parents aren't suppose to ask what children are doing during the day (Is this common amongst all sudburys?). I also find it amazing that they did not refund you your money.

We visited one of our area Sudbury Schools for a tour. I was super excited about finding a school that seeemed so wonderfull (we had been planning to homeschool until we hear of sudbury). During our tour, I found it really hard to picture my children in that environment and have turned back to my original plan to homeschool.

Thanks again for posting! It's good you were able to realize how unfitting the school was for your son before much time had passed. I'm curious to know if any intuitive voice was speaking to you against the stituation from the very beginning, if you don't mind my asking.
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#8 of 12 Old 10-03-2003, 06:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Kateri!

>I'm curious to know if any intuitive voice was speaking to you >against the stituation from the very beginning, if you don't mind >my asking.

That's an interesting question. Not from the very beginning, when we first visited, which was during the summer break, the school was empty so there wasn't much to go on and the teacher that oriented us painted a very different picture of the school than the one we got from our experience .

But once school had started it felt very wrong to just leave my 5-year old at the door, with people I didn't know. That alone did feel intuitively very wrong. When I found out - they don't even tell you this from the start - that I wasn't allowed to ask any questions about what was going on during the day the whole thing started feeling very cultlike and that's when I did feel that this wasn't right. The attitude towards parents; as people that are mostly a hindrance to children, pounded very negative and rather inappropriate, too, not to say disrespectful!

But I didn't allow myself to go by that voice right away because our son seemed happy and we didn't feel we had any great alternatives.

It all sounds so great on paper, doesn't it! We really thought we had found the near perfect place for our children, and were ready to pay the price and drive the distance to let them experience it.

Unfortunately we found that democracy and freedom were but beautiful words that staff hides behind and uses as a way to avoid taking personal responsibility.

The violent games were explained as an outcome of "freedom", but a small child doesn't really have that much freedom, no matter how nice the word sounds like to an adult. *I* was taking him to a specific place, this school, and the only freedom our son had was to choose between the activities available to him there; violent computer games or the art room. If he would have been going to a horse ranch or a hockey camp, again the environment would have defined the borders of what he would be able to choose from.

The fact that he was choosing to play this game in that school doesn't mean that that would be his #1 choice among all the things in the world, it was only his choice in that very narrow context; draw alone or play violent computer games together with other boys.

The impression I got was more of a situation where the "freedom", i.e. exploring lots of things usually not considered age-appropriate had a therapeutic value for the adults involved, the "staff" as they are called, and wasn't as great for the actual children, IYKWIM. I thought the idea was to allow children to grow up *in* society, not stored away apart from it like they usually in schools, but the students stayed indoors all the, and field trips anywhere were a rarity. They mostly just sat around in a rather dreary-looking apartment, so maybe it's not surprising that the air wasn't buzzing with energy and activity at all.

I think it is only by homeschooling that he is going to be able to choose his own path and be able to experience society in all its variety. Well, at least we gave it a shot!
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#9 of 12 Old 10-09-2003, 05:42 PM
 
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I was favorably impressed by the Chicago Sudbury School when I visited. I think it's best to realize, though, that no one educational theory will provide THE answer to all of our problems.

Mommy to eyesroll.gif (age 7) and mischievous.gif (age 3)

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#10 of 12 Old 10-09-2003, 07:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Juliacat:
[B]I was favorably impressed by the Chicago Sudbury School when I visited.

So was I, very much so! But unfortunately the reality at the school was very different from the impression I was given while I visited. Live and learn, right? Too bad this lesson was so expen$ive, though!
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#11 of 12 Old 11-17-2003, 08:47 PM
 
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Could I ask how long ago this experience happened? Thanks!
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#12 of 12 Old 11-17-2003, 11:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi 'beccaboo' -
it happened this fall.
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