Clearview Sudbury School is a surprisingly alternative school in Austin, Texas. Following the Sudbury model, students from kindergarten through high school take charge of their own education in a healthy, supportive environment. Clearview is a secular private school with accessible tuition and need-based tuition assistance available.
A Healthy, Supportive Environment
This mode of learning looks very different from other school models. Indoors, the kids, young adults, and adults all share the same comfortable space, pursuing their activities individually and in groups. Play, conversation, and managing the school as a business all take part simultaneously in the shared space, on couches and at common tables, in an environment of people who trust and respect each other. Through the back doors is our small back yard, beyond which is our expansive 19 acre extended campus, Patterson Park.
Participatory Democracy Among Equals
By participating in a working democracy, students develop the ability to make clear, logical arguments and learn how to deal with complex, ethical issues.
The adults, and to a lesser extent the older students, are typically the most involved in the managerial process of running the school, whether it be discussing and voting on motions in meetings, or carrying out the duties of a clerkship. When the right topic arises though, even the youngest students show up to have their opinion considered and vote for their own interest. These duties and meetings are voluntary, but there is one democratic meeting that everyone is routinely required to attend.
Every School Meeting member is at some point summoned into a meeting of the Judicial Committee, sometimes to serve on the committee and sometimes to answer to it. The Judicial Committee (and ultimately the School Meeting) is THE authority at the school. These bodies determine the duties and responsibilities of School Meeting members as well as the bounds of what is acceptable and unacceptable within the school community.
Complete Intellectual Freedom
At the heart of our method are the beliefs that all interests and work have equal value and that children, like all people, learn best when focusing on what interests them. Except for fufilling their duties to the Judicial Committee, and within high standards of personal responsibility, students are free to be however, wherever, whenever and doing whatever they please. The purpose of staff is not to know what, when, or how the students need to learn, but to be available for play and conversation, and to offer up their skills and knowledge for whatever comes up.
Freedom of Association
Age mixing is a natural result of the non-hierarchical structure of the school. An eight, thirteen and sixteen year old associate together over the game they all enjoy. The five year old drags the eighteen year old giggling through an epic, nonsensical adventure. The sixteen year old informs the twenty-nine year old of a significant fact of history that was apparently not taught in school, and online research confirms it to be true. A forty something, thirty something and fifteen year old look at the data from the school’s most recent online advertising campaign, and consider what steps to take next.