Blogs

There and Back Again: through Sudbury's doors

Associated School: 

When I was seven, I found myself at the Sudbury Valley School, in Framingham MA, and knew I had found the perfect school for me. I spent the next four years there. During my time there I was the free to play and be a kid. I played all day, everyday. I learned by asking others for help when I needed it, by being in a social environment with peers of all ages, by being hands-on in the art room, and by participating in a fully democratic society. Whenever I tried to force myself to learn something because my parents told me I had to, the attempt inevitability failed.

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Sudbury and the Quarter-life Crisis

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As most of you know, I am a new staff member this year, and I don’t know many HVSS graduates personally.  The school is still so new there aren’t many graduate anyway.  But, I did recently catch up with HVSS’s first graduate, Alex Delia, now 26, to see what he’s up been up to lately, and I wasn’t disappointed, to say the least.

Since graduating, Alex has started a successful recycling business - Mr. e-Waste, based in Hudson.  He says, “it was a crash course, really sink or swim kind of thing...and I’m swimming.”  When I spoke with Alex he was in Chicago at the airport, preparing to fly home from a business trip he spent working to identify oxidized metals in the waste-stream of a local company.  He thinks it could become a lucrative partnership.  He’s also trying to get Mr. e-Waste on autopilot so he can explore metal trading and recycling solutions.  Alex never attended a traditional school (though he has been inside of a few as a recycling contractor).  I asked him how - if at all - his Sudbury education was helping him succeed so impressively.  He didn’t mention any content he studied, or projects he worked on, or accolades he earned.  He said, “I learned how to be really present with myself, and therefore with others - to be open and receptive.  Basically, to communicate well.  I had a lot of opportunities to sit down with people, talk things over, and figure out how to work together to make things happen.”

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State of the School

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Associated School: 

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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Why are you sponsoring that motion, Matthew?

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Associated School: 

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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Perspective from an Alumna (Part 2)

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Associated School: 

This blog is the second part of an Alumna's perspective on her HVSS education.  The first part can be read here: http://sudburyschool.com/blog/perspective-alumni-part-1.  This installment largely focuses on what Marina has done since graduating from HVSS.

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Perspective from an Alumna (Part 1)

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Associated School: 

I am not the kind of person who is good at sitting around doing, “nothing,” and when I was younger I was even worse. After enrolling I suddenly had endless amounts of time during the day to…choose what I wanted to do? What a strange concept. How wonderful! How incredible! Okay, so, what do I do? Hmm…. Um, can someone please just tell me what I’m supposed to do? There’s got to be something that someone thinks I ought to be doing. Someone? Please? Anyone?  No? Okay, I guess this means I really have to think for myself. 

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Giving

This week's blog is a joint effort from Staff Members Vanessa Van Burek and Matthew Gioia.  They both reflect on their recent experiences with gifts, giving and community.

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What do Staff do at HVSS?

A parent suggested an informational blog post on "what staff do at HVSS." He added that when he explains the school to people they often infer that, because no one has any formal teaching duties, the staff members are essentially "babysitters." That tickled me, because when I worked at a public school I used to joke that, due to bureaucratic restraints, sloppy scheduling, and copious testing, I was often merely performing a minimal social service akin to - yes - babysitting.   

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Uncommon Core

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One of the biggest ongoing stories in education today is the debate over the Common Core, a set of K-12 standards dictating what students should learn and which has been adopted by 45 states.  Objections to the rollout of the Common Core have been numerous and vocal, but one in particular was highlighted for me at our Gift Sale on Saturday: having a "common" curriculum built around intensive testing is an attack on creativity.

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Chase and Pursuit

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Associated School: 

Recently, a staff member made a motion to put a defunct law called “Chase and Pursuit,” which forbids indoors chase games, back onto the books.  It passed to Second Reading, which means that it can be made into official school law at the following meeting.  But this law proved to be controversial, and the debate that followed revealed how in a democratic community even a seemingly simple proposition involves a complex web of implications.  In a small direct democracy, different perspectives inform and balance each other; it’s harder to get things done than in autocratic systems, but what’s done generally has more consideration behind it.

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Hudson Valley Sudbury School

84 Zena Road
Kingston, NY 12401
 
Phone: 845-679-1002
Fax: 845-679-3874