Let's Talk About Screens; "Screen Time" and Self-Directed Education

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There is an ongoing cultural debate about “screen time” and its effects on well-being. Most of the evidence is theoretical or anecdotal; there are no large-scale studies, meta-analyses, or longitudinal studies involving children and touchscreens. The debate is often confounded by the breadth of activity included in the term, “screen time.” This article won’t take a position on whether screen use is inherently good or bad, or on whether “over-use” even exists; instead, it describes how the Self-Directed Education (SDE) environments mitigate the potential of over-use and its associated suite of problems, while also creating a productive space for the “screen time” debate to unfold.

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Rainbow in the Snow: Another Fantastic Ski Experience at SVS

I myself am tired of my stories about SVS trips in general and of skiing trips in particular. But I just can’t help it! The truth probably is that what I see happening on trips happens all the time at … Continue reading
Author: 
Hanna Greenberg

Welcome Back to Choice

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That school bell’s ringin’! Giddap! Whoa! Welcome back, everyone.

As I write this, the rest of the staff are scurrying around, collating files, scrubbin’ tiles, and wrastlin’ crocodiles, puttin in dat elbow grease, while I tap away on my keyboard, 33 tabs open in chrome, planning next summer.  Just kidding - I’m working harder than anyone else, I’m sure you’ll agree.  I happen to be drinking coffee, too, and for some reason today my coffee tastes like grilled cheese, and strangely enough, I love it.  I’m just slurpin’ it down.  Go figure.

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Secret Worlds of Learning at SVS

Over the past few months I have noticed, and been fascinated by, the proliferation of “secret worlds”. As I’m an invited guest to these meaningful and sometimes sacred endeavors, I must omit names, locations, and other details, so as not … Continue reading
Author: 
Wendy Lement

Sudbury and the FEAR OF FALLING BEHIND

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Not long ago a parent told me that her son had “never been happier” since he enrolled earlier this spring.  And indeed, that very morning I had seen him running across the back hill with his arms outstretched and his head thrown back; it was like a scene from Free Willy.  His parent told me that, while his former school had stretched itself to make things work for him, he remained miserable there.  His needs, for space and time and companionship, were not being met.  I hear it a lot: it was like trying to fit the old round peg into the unforgiving square hole, but here, at last, there was no hole to conform to.  Out the window at this moment I can see three little bands of kids wandering the grounds, gesticulating excitedly, creating worlds beyond my kin.  One of them has green hair and no shirt.  One of them is carrying a bag by a strap around his forehead.  And one of them is being led by another...on a leash.  It’s so easy to forget that homo sapiens have developed a complex set of needs - and the skills to meet them - over 200,000 years of evolution, and they are embedded in us like algorithms that find expression one way or another.  We need to explore our identities and forge them in the context of intense social interaction in order to be successful, healthy, and happy.  Welcome to our “school.”

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Senate Confirmations, Donuts and the Price of Justice

Last week I found an example of “life imitating life”. Or more specifically life at SVS was imitating life in Washington. I am fascinated by the quirky details of democratic institutions. So, I got a little thrill when the 50-50 … Continue reading
Author: 
Foss Tighe

What are They Doing?

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Well it’s the first warm day of March, and most people here are outside, climbing trees and rolling in the mud, building sandcastles and playing street hockey.  I just played a game a student created called, “Sharktooth.”  I lost.  I was also, for a time, the overburdened father of two very demanding young girls, busily making dinners to order (why do I let them get away with that?!)  while attempting to regulate their screen-time (the “screen” was a slab of bluestone) and mediate their conflicts (you’d have to be a saint to do this well, I assured myself). I had to quit that game after less than an hour.  People sometimes complain about “kids these days” preferring the virtual world to the outdoors, but I don’t think it’s true; when all the obstacles - obstacles that adults have created -  are removed,  they go outside.  A lot, and really in all weather, not only when it’s nice.  But the spirit today is more celebratory than usual.

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School Meeting Dispatch: Sleeping at School

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Last week a motion to ban sleeping at school(!) came before our School Meeting.  Although sleeping isn’t a widespread practice here, it is common to see one or two students sawing logs at some point on any given day, and occasionally certain of the cozier nooks in the building become de-facto napping spots; it’s the “flipped classroom” concept taken swiftly to its apocalyptic  conclusion.  Anyway, there’s a feeling, at least amongst a few of the staff members, myself included, that there is something just a little weird about it.  While it’s true that our students have full responsibility for deciding how to spend their time, sleeping is unique among human activities because the sleeper is unconscious (and can therefore hardly be responsible for themselves).  Besides, sleeping is generally a private act, not a social one, and it comes wrapped in an aura of intimacy - and blankets, and all those blankets and limbs strewn about willy-nilly look sloppy; it’s a little hard on the eyes and it’s probably pretty bad PR.

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School Meeting Dispatch: Bathroom Rules

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And we’re off, almost into October, and Sudbury education is under full sail here at HVSS. I think of learning at our school as happening in three basic ways: formally - with instruction and structure, informally - with conversation, play, and individual pursuit, and communally - with collaborative problem solving in our Judicial Committee and School Meeting. Personally, I am most excited by the communal learning, and I think it’s a unique facet of the school. Here’s an example from September: last week, a motion to reserve one of the school’s bathrooms for the exclusive use of those aged 12 and up was brought before the school meeting, and a fascinating discussion ensued. Incidentally, I have a toddler, so potty humor is so hot right now at my house, has been for a while, and in fact I’m giggling this very moment, but I promise I’ll spare you, sophisticated readers, any ill-formed jokes in this post, although I will admit that the meeting was not similarly spared.

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“The Trial of Alice in Wonderland” A Musical at Sudbury Valley

Musicals and plays happen at all schools. It is always a big deal to produce them, what with numerous rehearsals to arrange, costumes and props to procure, and finding the talent in the student body to perform all the roles, … Continue reading
Author: 
Hanna Greenberg

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