Summer is almost over, and that’s good news for Fairhaven students.
Fairhaven is a school kids can’t wait to get back to!
Fairhaven opens September 3rd.
Since the end of the school year, I have been busy with my building clerkship. My summer routine begins with thorough cleaning of both buildings during which time I make a list of what needs fixing. When school starts up again in 6 weeks, here are some changes that folks will see (or not see):
1. The hole (fist size) in the Lounge no longer exists.
2. Several of the walls in both buildings have fresh coats of paint.
3. New door stops and repairs to doors that always seem to opened and closed by humans with
4. New stairs in the New Building (NB). When the carpet was removed, the cracks in the risers
5. At the time of this post, a new door is being installed in the NB by the computer room.
I am constantly amazed by how these physical structures endure the love and abuse that occur day inand day out of the school year. Additionally, I am aware of the reactions of School Meeting Members (SMMs) to change. The big changes (stairs and doors) had been discussed and approved by SM. Still, I thought a “heads-up” was in order. When we begin the next school year and celebrate our 15th year, I hope that these improvements will help the buildings to serve as a the wonderful learning environment that is and have been Fairhaven School.
Building Maintenance Clerk
What an amazing year! It flew by with so much fun, learning, hard work, friendship, and more. The school is now officially closed and once again, we extend huge thanks to all of you who have supported the school with your interest, time, talent, and resources. We had three spectacular graduates this year who showed us all just what is possible with a self-directed education—confidence, passion, skills, and preparedness to move out into the world and succeed. It has been a wonderful adventure to share this learning community together, an experience to treasure forever.
—all of us at Rising Tide School
As we embark upon our fifteenth year, in my mind, certain students flash before me: the skateboarder, the actor/director, the video gamer, and the dancer. All four of them have lived full lives at school, but their school-age years were consumed with their passions. Hour after hour, day after day, year after year the skateboarder practiced his tricks. The gamer played, learned computer programming, then designed video games. The actor acted in plays, then he wrote and directed his own. The dancer, still enrolled, spends most of her free time in the studio, training for the ballet.
While some students use Fairhaven School as a place to learn and experience a variety of activities and interests, some use the independence of a Sudbury education to become specialists. Unfettered by someone else’s idea of how they should prioritize their time (and liberated from homework), they discover and pursue something with a single-mindedness that is, to this observer, breathtaking. Their dedication and growth calls to mind the older construct of apprenticing with experts, of creating a relationship to an art form or a pursuit that is all-consuming.
It comes as no surprise, then, when we hear from the gamer that he is now pursuing his Master’s in Computer Science (having completed his Bachelor of Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation.) Or when we hear the periodic updates from the professional skateboarder about his accomplishments and sponsorships. We are even not surprised when the actor/director has now set his sights on environmental science. Their discipline, focus, and dedication translate into one thing: a life with purpose.
The other day in a radio interview I heard the director Steven Sodergergh talk about his high school years:
“High school, I never cracked a book. I mean, I got by just on the fact that I read a lot and ... Read More
(Here is another compelling post from Fairhaven School parent and writer Johnna Schmidt. Enjoy!)
In a bid to try to understand how my sons may come to be educated, I’ve been trying to understand how I myself have experienced education. Always a list-maker, I’ve devised the following exercise and have found it clarifying:
Draw a line down the center of a piece of paper. On one side list 4 or 5 of the most significant life-learning, non-academic experiences you’ve had. Don’t worry if you’re not sure you’re getting the very most impactful ones. You can do this again next year and you’ll have a slightly different list. Just think of things that have changed your life, have molded you into who you are. These may be special projects or unexpected hardships, life challenges or opportunities, etc, any context in which that you feel you really learned a great deal.
On the other side, make a list of the 4 or 5 most significant teachers in your life, or academic courses that you’ve taken that have been the most important. Restrict this side to academic-context only learning. Place an asterisk next to the teacher’s name if you consider that person a mentor instead of merely a teacher, that is, you had a one-on-one relationship with that teacher, or some kind of emotional connection, or received advice from them that was especially important.
Take a moment to reflect upon your education as a whole. Looking at your list, what stands out to you? What or who has been the most important?
I have done some version of this exercise with over 20 people at this point. What stood out to me immediately was the distinction between “mentoring” and “teaching.” Very little impactful learning actually seems to occur in traditional classrooms. Most people have had special relationships with ... Read More
a vessel or craft that services others operating far from a home port or center.
Fairhaven School, like all of our sister schools, calls itself a Sudbury school because we have always been affiliated with Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, Massachusetts (“SVS” to many of its students, a “mother ship” to all of us.) Theirs is the largest and the oldest institution operating like we do, and our adoption of their model has always been explicit. Our founders and staff members have attended numerous conferences at SVS over the years, and Fairhaven School staff members have served on SVS diploma committees. We have hosted SVS exchange students, and we call the Sudbury Valley office often with questions. In numerous ways, our fiercely independent school relies upon them. Indeed, we are among the “others operating far from a home port,” and that home port is Sudbury Valley School.
So it is with much excitement and pride that we announce that Sudbury Valley School now has a blog! We encourage anybody who is interested in Fairhaven School and its educational philosophy to follow the SVS blog. Already they have published lovely, insightful posts on a variety of topics, including one of our students’ favorite games, Minecraft, and the crucial idea of agency as it relates to education.
At our recent Alumni Parent Panel, the panelists reflected not only on their children’s process, but on their own process. I left that evening’s discussion with a sense that choosing a Sudbury school education for your children requires a willingness on the part of parents to let go, to trust, to listen. As alumna parent Pat Everret reveals:
“It did make me more aware. It forced me to be more accepting of what my daughter was the way she was… I wasn’t as bent on thinking my way was right, which, I’m guilty of. And I just had to step back and realize, step back and listen… you have to step back and say, ‘Hey, wait a minute, it’s time for me to listen more.’ And I had to do a lot of that growing, I’m still trying to do it. But, you know, you’ve got to give them a lot more… I had to give them a lot more faith than I was inclined to at the beginning. I’m still working on it..”
Choosing Fairhaven School also requires faith and trust in your child, as alumni parent Robin Rice advises current parents:
“I would say, trust your child… I don’t want to sound overly fantastical, but I really believe that every child has a genius in them. And they know how to find it if they’re allowed to find it. And they will tell you what it is… they will tell you what they want and they will tell you what they need. And if you listen they’ll find their way… The more I tried to make my agenda the agenda the less it worked, and the more it worked to listen and follow and trust. And it is hard to trust sometimes, it is hard to trust what you see. But ... Read More
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
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