The Psychological Ecology of Sudbury

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When I tell people about how Hudson Valley Sudbury School (HVSS) works, they sometimes ask if it’s like William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. They imagine a vicious world of savage children struggling for supremacy, gnawing on limbs, and skewering random stuff with sharpened sticks.  They even bring up anecdotes from their own experience to suggest that we should expect brutality to rein under the conditions we maintain at our school; they’ll say something like, “in my high school, if the teacher ever stepped out of the classroom, even for a second, a fight would break out.”  I understand - I’ve even worked in a school where that was indeed the case. If not a fight, something transgressive would happen - a champion would emerge from the rows of desks to make some raucous gesture of contempt for authority, to the hoots and applause of classmates.  And when we attempted to have unstructured time, like a recess, there was almost always an actual fistfight. At that school, the adults micromanaged the students as much as possible. The more control a teacher was able to exert over students, the more highly that teacher was regarded; power, and the control it afforded, was the highest good.  The most effective teachers were known for directing students with military precision, drilling them in posture and guidelines which sharply restricted how they could move their bodies, even while seated, and where they could direct their gaze at any particular moment. In such an excruciating and oppressive environment, tense but utterly boring, people find ways to rebel - not because they can’t handle freedom maturely when they find or steal a moment of it, but because they are deprived of it.  Their “transgressions” are hardly evidence of immaturity; they are, rather, evidence of an unhealthy ecology of relationships. The boys in Lord of the Flies were cultivated within a culture of mistrust and assimilated into a brutal hierarchy at their mid-20th century English boarding school.  Left to their own devices, they recreated the ecology of their native psychological habitat. Lord of the Flies is not a cautionary tale about freedom; it’s a cautionary tale about oppression.

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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

Fifty Years, Front and Center!

Danny gives a brief summary of the reason SVS was founded and how exciting it is to be entering our 50th year! Continue reading
Author: 
Daniel Greenberg

It Feels Good

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Yesterday was the second day of school at The Hudson Valley Sudbury School. For me it was an emotional start to the year. My youngest is now officially enrolled as a fresh five year old, and two of my oldest graduated last year leaving me to start the year without them. It’s been bittersweet. I know that they were ready to leave.  One is at Sarah Lawrence College, not too far from home so I can still lay eyes on him every so often. I look forward to watching him grow, I eagerly await the stories of his classes, his adventures and what it’s like to be a Sudbury grad, and of course to watch him serve as an alumni at various school events. The other has flown across the world to conquer the professional video game stage, signed as a well-paid, pro player on a team in Asia. He’s on a team that is navigating having players who speak 4 different languages; he’s training, he’s greeting fans, he’s keeping color-coded spreadsheets about technical play - the opportunity of a lifetime. They are both exactly where they should be, and they have taken these steps with a grounded confidence that makes me proud. And I’m doing what I can to miss them in a positive way.

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The Cutting Edge

Mimsy reminiscences the concept of Sudbury Valley and how it has felt for the past 50 years. Continue reading
Author: 
Mimsy Sadofsky

Always Exploring

“It’s fun to have fun, but you have to know how,” said The Cat In the Hat. It seems to me that Dr. Seuss, who obviously understood children, nevertheless, like most adults, was blind to the ability of kids to … Continue reading
Author: 
Hanna Greenberg

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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On the passing of Alan White, January 2, 2017

It is hard not to think that the passing of Alan White this winter marks the passing of an era. Alan has been the voice of calm, the voice of reason, the voice of gentleness, and the voice of steel … Continue reading
Author: 
Mimsy Sadofsky

Alan White, 1926-2017

Every death is a loss to those who have to continue their lives without the one that passed. Nothing new or remarkable here except for me and Danny and SVS. That is because throughout the past fifty years Alan was … Continue reading
Author: 
Hanna Greenberg

Our First Open Mic

An Open Mic is a scary thing to organize. After all, the success of the endeavor depends not on who says they want to sing, or play a song, or dance, or do an act, beforehand, but who actually steps … Continue reading
Author: 
Mimsy Sadofsky

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