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Free at Last: The Sudbury Valley School

4.2 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1888947007
ISBN-10: 1888947004
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Sudbury Valley School Pr (June 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1888947004
  • ISBN-13: 978-1888947007
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,829 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As a college professor, I can attest to the fact that our secondary schools (both public and private) are not working. They are producing desensitized, passionless robots whose only ambitions involve participating in the vortex of the class system and increasing the wealth of corporate CEO's. Fortunately, the Sudbury Valley School offers a real alternative to all this madness.
Any serious educator who has the common sense of a slug (and that's about one percent, by the way) will tell you that the educational system as we know it is merely an indoctrination into the values of the ruling class. Much of the work that is forced on teachers is mind-numbing bookkeeping and measuring designed to further the careers of educators (and satisfy administrators) more than anyone else. What is refreshing about Sudbury is that they do away with all that and get down to the business of educating students.
Meaningful learning comes from the individual, and that's what the Sudbury model is all about. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
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Format: Paperback
This book explains quite a bit about the Sudbury Valley School, it is not about people who want to work at a super market checkout nor is it about people who do not know how to read. This is about a school that essentially lets you unschool. As and unschooler I found it to be interesting and inspiring. This is a book about a school where you essentially can become anything you want to become. Traditional schools are about molding people, this is a school about learning and freedom. While searching for alternative education I actually visited a school that models itself on SVS, however it was a bit of a drive to get there and it was just getting off the ground so I chose to unschool instead.
"There can be no freedom without learning and learning without freedom is always in vain"-JFK
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Format: Paperback
This book is about more than just another way to "do school". It poses a question and a challenge to all that we've come to believe about what education is.

After several years of reading and discussing, and of helping to set up a Sudbury school, I've come to see the Sudbury model as sort of a passive place by design, in that, to the individual member of the community, the environment and its inhabitants are "just there". Nothing and no one tells you what you should do with your time, or with whom you should do it. So in that sense your time there can become a kind of mirror image of your personality and your own view of things. I guess that's another way of saying that you get out of a Sudbury "school" what you put into it. Like life. I think the source of many negative reactions about Sudbury is that no one would be comfortable having to face the possibility that left to their own devices they wouldn't know what to do with themselves.

Having said that, and in the same sense, I also think the individual Sudbury schools can tend to take on the personality of certain of its members (staff and/or students). Like our own communities often do. The School Meeting and other democratic institutions that are part of the Sudbury model are supposed to be the hedge against democracy turning into mob rule. But as we know it doesn't always work as we'd all like it to. If it happens that the "personality" of a particular Sudbury school doesn't suit a particular member, he/she has 3 constructive options: (1) try to effect change through the democratic processes provided; (2) work within the system as best as you can; (3) find another environment that suits your needs better. Contrast this with traditional school, where for the most part only option 2 is available. At Sudbury it's up to you to make your time there meaningful. Like life.
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Format: Paperback
A remarkable example of walking one's talk. These people set out to do something in the late sixties based on ideals that most of us have long since compromised to the pressures of performance and conformity. If it sounds too good to be true, I suggest you take a closer look.
The central message of this book is: Trust Your Kid. You will have to eventually, so why not start now, while they still live with you.
Many additional books are available through the school's website at sudval.org. There, one can subscribe to an active discussion list regarding this philosophy. Info about similar schools and startup groups is available at the SERN website, sudburynetwork.org.
This book is as good a place as any to begin the process of re-thinking what you assume education is.
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Format: Paperback
If you believe that kids need to be controlled, guided, and "exposed to new ideas," you won't like this book. But if you recognize that kids can be trusted to learn what they need most, when they need it most, you'll recognize the tremendous value of this book. Also, check out _The Sudbury Valley Experience_ by the same authors.
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Format: Paperback
As a former teacher frustrated with the mediocrity andlimitations of traditional public schools, I find this book to beexciting and refreshing, offering hope that at least someone has theright idea. True learning is learner-driven, experiential, andfreeing.
Socrates knew well that all knowledge pre-exists in us, andthat his job as a "teacher" was not to spew his ownknowledge, but to facilitate the learner to get in touch with the factthat they already know what they need to know, they just have to knowthat they know. Socrates merely reminded them of that. He was the"maieutic", the Socratic midwife, helping others toexperience the joy of learning. When I shifted my teaching style fromthe "Keeper of All Knowledge", to the "Midwife",the effects were monumental.
Now here we have an entire school,successful since its beginnings in the 60's, operating solely on theseprinciples. Follow up books LEGACY OF TRUST: LIFE AFTER THE SUDBURYSCHOOL EXPERIENCE, KINGDOM OF CHILDHOOD, and SUDBURY VALLEY SCHOOLEXPERIENCE, examine the long term effects and personal reflections offormer students.
As a parent, I spend significant time with bykids(AFTER their homework is done!)helping them pursue what intereststhem, trying to keep that flame of the adventure that is learningalive, following the principles I learned in thisbook...
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