Parental involvement is a term that is used frequently in traditional education. It usually consists of things like volunteering in the classroom, participating in the PTO or chaperoning field trips. On a more insidious level, the involvement of parents in their childʼs education ensures that the values of the culture and/or those of the family of origin prevail over the individuality of the child. Parental involvement then, is not so much for the childʼs benefit, but for the benefit of the educational institution or for the parents themselves.
It is not surprising then, that in a Sudbury school, where the primary objective is for the child to develop into the unique individual nature intended him or her to be, parental involvement is not encouraged.
As the parent of an SVS student who attended public school for five years, I find that part of the beauty of Sudbury Valley is that my son Gavin considers it his school. This means that I donʼt know a whole lot of what happens during his day other than the bits and pieces he chooses to share with me.
And I am more than okay with this, because I think a large part of the whole Sudbury experience is for children to explore their own independence and experience themselves as individuals capable of following their own instinctive directions. This is very hard to do when there are adults hovering around, most especially parents.
It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for a child to be completely free in the presence of parental figures. I know in my own life, even as a grown woman, I tend to feel far less free when my parents are around. For children, this feeling is amplified, for they are still dependent on their parents for the very basic things in life, like food, shelter and love.
I feel that part of the magic that happens at Sudbury Valley is that my son is learning who he is as a person, apart from whatever cultural or familial beliefs or values he has been initiated into without his own consent. In this way, it is a place that is completely his, without any agenda, implicit or implied, from any outside source. This, I feel, is a key component of a Sudbury education, and one which is of primary importance in the growth of a child into full, autonomous adulthood.