Sudbury School News From Around the World

What if there were no grades in school?

News Article From: The Clearwater School - Mon, 04/29/2013 - 17:07
At The Clearwater School, children are trusted with the freedom and responsibility to direct their own education. Without grades, groupings by age or mandatory tests, children engage wholeheartedly in their passions, and find their own standards of success. Students spend years setting and achieving their personal goals, becoming resourceful, self-confident and skilled adults with a commitment to

Clearwater Students Star in Professional Music Video

News Article From: The Clearwater School - Thu, 04/18/2013 - 01:20
by Shawna Lee photos by Matt Garrity In January, Clearwater staff member Matt Garrity, also a musician and 17th Chapter front man, heard from friend and music producer, Christian Hansen, that he needed two young people  to perform in a professional music video for the London-based duo, Still Corners. Matt offered to find a boy and girl from The Clearwater School to be in the video. He asked

Trust, Spirituality & Raising Kids - Public Conversation

News Article From: The Clearwater School - Mon, 04/01/2013 - 18:26
The Clearwater School presents a free public presentation and discussion, "The Practice of Parenting: Trust, Spirituality and Raising Kids." The presentation will be Saturday, April 13, 2013, 6-8pm, at Two Dog Yoga, 12549 28th Ave NE, Seattle, in the Lake City neighborhood. In practices ranging from Christianity to Qigong, we work to stay present, are challenged to let go, strive to be

Clearwater Profiles - Emma

News Article From: The Clearwater School - Fri, 03/29/2013 - 17:17
by Shawna Lee, Clearwater staff member Eighteen-year-old Emma is relatively new to The Clearwater School; she has attended since January 2012. Before that, she attended Woodinville High School. One day, in Emma's English class, her teacher talked about different educational philosophies, including Clearwater's Sudbury philosophy. [Her public school teacher was Christine Traxler, whose 9-

Free To Learn: An Essential New Book

News Article From: Fairhaven School News - Wed, 03/13/2013 - 19:01

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Peter Gray, research psychologist and Sudbury Valley School board member, has published a book that collects many of the insights and posts from his Psychology Today blog, Freedom To Learn.

Throughout the book, Dr. Gray champions that most essential human learning activity: play. He captures what Fairhaven School students so ably demonstrate day after day, year after year. To learn, we must play.

Check out his book here.


Fairhaven School Staff

March, 2013

Build it and they will come!

News Article From: The Clearwater School - Mon, 03/11/2013 - 22:26
by Matt Garrity, staff member Gregory demonstrates how to build a really tall tower during Clearwater's Play Group program. The part time program is designed for younger students and is a great introduction into the school environment.

Family Information Nights at Clearwater

News Article From: The Clearwater School - Mon, 03/11/2013 - 18:27
If you're curious--or know people who are curious--about how Clearwater students learn anything and become confident, capable and skilled adults when they are free to decide how to spend their time at school, Family Information Nights are for you. The Clearwater School has scheduled two Family Information Nights this spring. The first is this week: Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 6:00-8:00 PM. The

No Bullies Here: A School Culture of Respect

News Article From: Fairhaven School News - Thu, 03/07/2013 - 11:24

Three adolescent boys enter the back door and head into the Shop. They are talking a mile a minute, and they are on a mission to build or repair  something, maybe a shield for their swordplay game. Their presence is loud, physical, and energetic. Here at Fairhaven School, the moment is insignificant; however, in the landscape of American schooling, the moment embodies much, and warrants unpacking.

A first element to appreciate is  the boys’ liberty. No one has directed their activity, nor will it be measured, evaluated, or assessed by anyone but themselves. Instead, like many grownups in our post-industrial society, they are following a thread, an interest in combat reenactment that is rooted both in play and in history. Although their passage into the shop on this day is ephemeral, it also exists on a continuum, as their play and relationships span years. The late educator and process philosopher Don Oliver wrote about “concrescence,” naming the constant coming together of disparate parts to create a life form, in this case a person. Here at Fairhaven School, individual freedom enables concrescence.

Another aspect to consider is the larger, egalitarian cultural matrix of the school. We are a transparent, respectful democracy where we value all pursuits and activities. Again, the young men are going to the shop to work on their reenactment weapons, yet they are not derided for being nerdy or dorky at school, and they are not relegated to some isolated social rung. In short, nobody is shoving them up against the proverbial locker.  Likewise, the best athletes and elected school leaders here garner no special adulation, nor do the stars of the school play. I recently read a lengthy article in New York magazine that deconstructs the experiences of adolescents in mainstream American high schools. Here is a typical ... Read More

Sadness Level Over 9000

News Article From: Rising Tide School - Wed, 03/06/2013 - 15:55

Dear friends,

Last night, members of the Rising Tide School community voted to close the school at the end of the 2012-13 school year.  Despite an extraordinary level of dedication on the part of staff, students, and parents, we just don’t have the resources to keep the school going.  We are grateful for the support and generosity of everyone who has helped to build and sustain the school.  As we’ve debated the closing of the school, there have been many tears.  As one teen observed after a meeting: “Sadness level over 9000!” While we’re all dealing with an epic sense of loss and grieving for our community and the freedom it offers, we also have a lot to celebrate.

It’s been an amazing process to build a vibrant learning community run democratically by youth.  Now in our fourth year, we are really experiencing the promise of the Sudbury model.  When we began the school, we believed that it was possible for children to take charge of their own education and to guide themselves in learning everything they need to know to be successful in the world.  Now we know that is it.  We’ve seen for ourselves that young people do master the skills they need (including but not limited to reading, writing, and arithemetic) in their own time, at their own pace, largely with no instruction.  We’ve seen that kids do learn to hold their own as full participating members in a working democracy.  We’ve watched the incredible process of youth gradually taking full responsibility for the running of the school.  Students now fill many of the key administrative and leadership roles in the school, and do so with great skill and intelligence.  And we’ve had the amazing satisfaction of seeing teens move out in the larger community with the drive, ... Read More

What It’s Like To Be the Parent of a Kid Who Doesn’t Bring Home Report Cards

News Article From: The Clearwater School - Tue, 03/05/2013 - 18:22
by Karen Hyams, Clearwater parent [photos taken at The Clearwater School] I’m the mom of a 17-year-old who has only taken two tests since first grade. When, at 15, he took a test to see if he could take freshman English at Cascadia College, I was as curious to see the results as he was; we had no past test-taking experience to compare. He might have done well, he might have done poorly--

The Fault In Our Stars

News Article From: The Clearwater School - Mon, 02/25/2013 - 18:59
by Bryan A couple of weeks ago I looked over Aidan's shoulder while he was reading The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. He read it in about three days, I think. Not long after that his sister Maddy was reading it, and Aidan had moved on to another book by the same author. And then a third. Always curious, I leafed through one of them, looking as I always do for some indication about whether the

Reluctant to Enthusiastic: A Clearwater Parents' Forum

News Article From: The Clearwater School - Fri, 02/15/2013 - 15:06
You are invited to attend this upcoming event. Please invite friends, neighbors and coworkers to attend. Parents who enroll their children at the Clearwater School in Bothell grapple with thorny issues by choosing a democratic school. Providing their children with the freedom to be responsible for their own learning can be a daunting endeavor. Parents will discuss issues such as unlimited

Clearwater Students Work for Salmon

News Article From: The Clearwater School - Mon, 02/11/2013 - 15:04
by Bryan Carr Clearwater's Salmon Restoration Marathon is underway!   Clearwater staff and students are working hard on a marathon of weeding, grounds-clearing, and landscape restoration.  Gabriel and Leo weeding and mulching Every day we go out armed with clippers and shovels (and protected by gloves!) to the big field behind the school, to pull and flatten grasses around saplings

Final Preparations for the Winter Cafe

News Article From: The Clearwater School - Fri, 02/01/2013 - 19:00
At The Clearwater School today students and staff were making final preparations for tomorrow's Winter Cafe (Saturday, February 2, 2013). Everyone was full of excitement and nervousness during the dress rehearsal, and lots of kinks were identified and worked out for the staging. More work, time and attention has gone into this student performance event than ever before. There is much to be proud

A Job Well Done

News Article From: The Clearwater School - Sun, 01/27/2013 - 00:41
by Shawna Lee, staff member Every week for 30 minutes or more, between 10 and 20 students pitch in to pull thistle, blackberry and invasive reed canary grass from a large area of our campus along North Creek. Clearwater's School Meeting partnered with Snohomish County Surface Water Management and Clearwater Commons to restore and replant an area along the creek with native trees and shrubs. The

The Art of Choice

News Article From: Rising Tide School - Fri, 01/25/2013 - 17:54

When you’re free, as are Rising Tide School students, to choose how to spend your days, weeks, and life, how do you choose to fill that time?  How do you learn to use your time well, to further your goals and to have an enjoyable, engaged, experience of life?  Sounds simple, but it’s not.

Most of us, when fantasizing about what we’d do with unlimited free time, have a laundry list of ways we’d like to relax and creative projects we’d finally start.  But in fact, when we have unlimited free time, if we haven’t learned to follow our inner compass, we’re likely to procrastinate, make excuses, and let tasks fill up our days, getting no closer than before to the life of our dreams.  We’ve probably all experienced this at some point.  To actually spend our time in pursuit of our dreams takes strategy, discipline, and a willingness to confront the demons that keep us from being who we want to be.  (The real secret here is that it doesn’t take more time to start living the life we want, it takes more commitment.  Much more difficult to deliver.)

Sometimes, Sudbury kids, either when first arriving at the school, or when in a period of boredom, will choose to do nothing with their time, or very little.  They may have come to the school excited to do more art, or to read all the time, or to create huge projects that they’ve never had time for, but instead of that, they do nothing.  Sometimes they’ll do a great deal of nothing and won’t take the even small steps, for example, to get certified to use the art supplies, or the computers, or to use the school’s many interesting resources.  They’ll talk endlessly about being bored rather than take a step to do ... Read More

Winter Cafe - Sneak Peek!

News Article From: The Clearwater School - Wed, 01/23/2013 - 04:12
by Shawna Lee, staff member The Clearwater School is celebrating Groundhog Day (February 2, 2012) by hosting the second annual Winter Cafe, an inspirational showcase of student solo and group performances. The showcase will be preceded by a potluck at 12:30pm, and performances begin at 2:00pm. Donations of $5 per person are requested for the performance. Everyone is welcome, but space is


News Article From: The Clearwater School - Fri, 01/18/2013 - 18:35
by Bryan Back at Clearwater after several days' absence, stressed out about lots of things, and not really sure I had the energy to be fully present at school, I was asked to sit in with a number of students practicing on their musical act. That was something I could do. There's nothing like jamming with other musicians, and by now the group is at a very exciting point -- musicians are sure

Not as different as I thought (Part II)

News Article From: The Clearwater School - Mon, 01/14/2013 - 02:26
by Susan Milton, Clearwater parent Part I was published last week. As I was writing about some of the similarities between my own school experience growing up, and my kids' experience at Clearwater, I started to think about how both schools were opened in order to provide the community with an educational option that at the time was available at only a handful of schools around the country.

The Missing Piece

News Article From: Rising Tide School - Fri, 01/11/2013 - 23:50

Each day at Rising Tide School, there are moments of struggle, learning, friendship, and creativity that take my breath away.  Arriving at school in the morning, students are relaxed, expectant, eager.  At the close of the day they are satisfied, stretched, and ready for more.   When I worked as a top-down educator (“I tell you what to learn”), transcendent moments were rare or non-existent.  Cooperation and harmony were absent.  People resisted what I had to teach them, and most people, including many of the educators, would rather have been somewhere else.  At best it was tolerable; at worst it was dreadful.  This was true despite the best intentions of everyone in the system.  So what is the missing piece?  What gives Sudbury its magic?  And why, despite its effectiveness and the happy results, does our culture resist the Sudbury way of learning?

In a recent meeting with an graduating student, I heard an insightful explanation.  The young woman was talking about the fears she had been facing around her thesis defense and her upcoming shift to independent adult life.  She had been full of self-doubt and fear in the early part of the year, comparing herself to others and judging herself negatively.  Even when people in the school saw her positively and reflected that back, she hadn’t been able to see the positive things in herself.  However, through some recent adventures, things had shifted dramatically for her.  She had realized that she had to love herself, know who she really was, and be herself in the world.  She said that she should be pointing out her positive aspects and achievements to others and not the other way around, and that now she could do that.  She was full of confidence, power, and was able to clearly express the many, ... Read More