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A Sudbury school is a school which practices a form of democratic education in which students individually decide what to do with their time, and learn as a by-product of ordinary experience rather than adopting a descriptive educational syllabus or standardized instruction by classes following a prescriptive curriculum. Students have complete responsibility for their own education and the school is run by direct democracy in which students and staff are equals.
The name 'Sudbury' refers to Sudbury Valley School, founded in 1968 in Framingham, Massachusetts, the first school of this type; since 1991, about 40 schools of this type have opened around the world. These schools are not formally associated in any way, but are a loosely connected network that are mutually supportive of each other, operating as independent entities. See here the features that apply to the Sudbury Valley School.
The model differs in some ways from other types of democratic schools and free schools, but there are many similarities:
* De-emphasis of classes: There is no curriculum or set of required courses, because there are no courses. Instead learner interest guides things, with students studying what they want to study. There are generally no classrooms, just rooms where people choose to congregate.
* Age mixing: students are not separated into age-groups of any kind and are allowed to mix freely, interacting with those younger and older than themselves; free age-mixing is emphasized as a powerful tool for learning and development in all ages.
* Autonomous democracy: parents have limited involvement or no involvement in the school administration; Sudbury schools are run by a democratic school meeting where the students and staff participate exclusively and equally. Such meetings are also the sole authority on hiring and firing of staff, unlike most other schools.
Sudbury schools are based on the belief that no kind of curriculum is necessary to prepare a young person for adult life. Instead, these schools emphasize learning as a natural by-product of all human activity.
There are about 40 Sudbury-type schools around the world.
Sudbury schools are based on the belief that no kind of curriculum is necessary to prepare a young person for adult life. Instead, these schools place emphasis on learning as a natural by-product of all human activity. Learning is self-initiated and self-motivated. They rely on the free exchange of ideas and free conversation and interplay between people, to provide sufficient exposure to any area that may prove relevant and interesting to the individual. Students of all ages mix together; older students learn from younger students as well as vice versa. Students of different ages often mentor each other in social skills. The pervasiveness of play has led to a recurring observation by first-time visitors to a Sudbury school that the students appear to be in perpetual "recess".
Implicitly and explicitly, students are given responsibility for their own education, meaning the only person designing what a student will learn is the student themselves or by the way of apprenticeship. As such, Sudbury schools do not compare or rank students — the system has no tests, evaluations, or transcripts.
*****Shannon... I think this has some good points, but when the kids are deciding their own curriculum, they're doing things like going fishing all day. Playing sports all day. Drawing, whatever seems fun, not actual learning. I myself would never send my child to a "free school". Not to mention the cost is about 10,000 a yr.