Matthew Gioia

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Matthew began seeking alternative educational environments halfway through his college experience. He participated in Naropa University's "contemplative education program" in Boulder, CO,  and studied at St. John's College in Santa Fe, NM, which offers a Great Books curriculum.  From there, he moved to Mississippi to teach in a rural middle school and attend the Ole Miss on weekends.  Matthew came to HVSS by way of a search for a place where he is permitted to respect children and teenagers as fully human beings.  At school these days, Matthew loves to play sports, run the Judicial Committee, teach history and writing, and try making jokes.

Articles by the Author

Why are you sponsoring that motion, Matthew?

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Last Thursday as I put together the School Meeting Agenda I noticed that it was thin - it outlined what would surely be a quick and boring meeting.  I wanted something more interesting, so I thoughtlessly sponsored a motion to ban the use of smart phones, tablets, and similar devices at school, chuckling to myself.  I posted the agenda in the Lounge Extension, and went about my day.  Soon, students began addressing me, “Why the hell are you sponsoring that motion, Matthew?”

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State of the School

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I would like to suggest that perhaps - just maybe - if more of our nation's children had the freedom, trust, and responsibility that students at HVSS have, other addresses given this week assessing states of affairs might be able to be more honestly positive.  Perhaps, if children and teenagers were respected as complete human beings - inexperienced, but complete as they are at any age (imagine!) - many, many problems  assaulting our nation and our earth would begin to soften and diminish.

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The Education of a Sudbury Staff Member

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One of the best things about a Sudbury School is Age Mixing.  This allows people of all ages to learn from other people of all ages - whether the person doing the learning is 5 years old or 30 years old.  Here is another episode in the continuing saga of one of our staff members "getting schooled".  One would thank that participating in a Milkshake sale would be simple, well one would be wrong...

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Why So Many Song About Rainbow

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Perhaps it’s because rainbows operate in our psychology as a symbol of plenitude, especially for children, most of whom spend a great deal of their time under strict surveillance in secure pens called “schools,” which is ominously defined in Meriam-Webster’s online dictionary as “an institution for the teaching of children.”  Rainbow-land is where we will finally be free to do as we please and be respected as complete human beings.  But more on rainbows later.

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Can't Wait Until Music Night

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"This is the kind of gig I had in mind when I moved to the Hudson Valley." That's what Jason from the King of Rome said when he took the stage at the January 2014 Music Night, and everyone who has ever been knows what he meant: Music Night is suffused with the kind of intimate ambiance lent by the glow of warm embers in a friend's fireplace

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It's Up to You

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"Claiming responsibility for your own life, for your own community, for your world is glorious.  “I am responsible!” That’s heart; that’s love. Something extraordinary is happening today, and we need responsible people."

 
Find out what else Matthew said at the 2014 graduation ceremony!

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Commencement Speech 2015

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I am really honored and flattered to be asked to speak again this year.  It’s always a pleasure for me to fabricate heady rhetoric. So, thanks guys.  But actually, you know, after they asked me to speak, I went to them - maybe it was just Kiran, and I asked him who he would really like to speak, and he said Steve Buscemi, of course.  I found Mr. Buscemi on americanspeakers.com and there was a form to request him as a speaker - the lowest fee you could offer was $5,000, so I offered that and added a note that really I was really only offering $250.  We didn’t get a response.  So you’re stuck with me.  

So, when I was working on this yesterday at school one of our youngest students approached me and asked if he could help, and I accepted the offer, and I’m going to begin with his contribution:

"Here ye, here ye, I am a pirate.  You will be missed.  Maybe see you on a visiting week."

Alright.  Here we are: you’re about to graduate.  Though, it’s a little weird to even call it “graduation” here, isn’t it?  Because - as we all know - at this school the curriculum is responsibility and the method is freedom, and so the content of what a student actually does here - what they “work on” - is different for each one; and ultimately, the curriculum is just their own person, their own genius.  

So - what does it mean to graduate here?  The transcripts we give you say that really only you can tell us.  When I was thinking about this I was reminded of a passage from the prologue to East of Eden by John Steinbeck, which I read over and over again in high school.  (I have done some slight editing to bring Mr. Steinbeck up to date politically.)  Goes like this:  A [person], after [they] have brushed off the dust and chips of [their] life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?”

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Pursuing your Passion

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“Having space and time to develop and pursue a genuine passion” is one of the aspects of HVSS that gets a lot of airtime in our PR materials and Open Houses.  Yet, it can be a little misleading - it may give the impression that every student at school is constantly engaged in a specific and well-

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Apprentice Learning

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One of the most effective ways of learning a new skill is through an apprenticeship.  This style of learning is essential to a Sudbury model school and is practiced naturally all day, every day.  This blog entry gives a couple examples of this style of learning in action.

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Open Letter (rant) to Those Who Advocate the “Tough Love” of Traditional Schools

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One criticism of the Sudbury model that comes up again and again is that it fails to “prepare kids for the ‘Real World’” because Sudbury provides too ideal an environment.  Sudbury spoils them by daring to respect children and teenagers as full-blooded human beings.  In contrast, the Real World is anti-human and is going to disrespect, subjugate, and crush them as soon as it gets its hooks into them.

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