Essays

Monday, March 1, 2010
Shortly after the oral thesis defenses were completed one of the students who participated in this new procedure suggested to me that I should sit together with all the students and talk about their experiences. They agreed to have the conversation… Read more ›
Monday, February 1, 2010
Note: This essay is based on a talk given at Framingham State College in November 2007. I When people write about schools, they usually talk about curriculum, program, management, pedagogy, and other such matters. I’m not going to do that at all.… Read more ›
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Note: This essay is an edited version of the transcript of a talk given at the school on November 19, 2008. It is a question that people ask all the time. We hear it at Open Houses, we hear it when we meet people outside, we hear it at interviews,… Read more ›
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does. ~Margaret Mead I For me, the promise was this: that the ideal expressed in our Declaration of Independence—“all men are created… Read more ›
Thursday, October 1, 2009
The indispensable ingredients for establishing and maintaining a Sudbury school as a viable entity1 I. The Core Group The seeds for having a sustainable school are planted at the very beginning. How you start, how you set the place up, are largely… Read more ›
Saturday, August 1, 2009
An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted. ~Arthur Miller I Undergirding any educational program is a set of assumptions that are often believed to be so self-evident that they do not need to be stated. But are they so self-… Read more ›
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
When I dropped out of high school at age 16, I had no idea that Sudbury Valley existed. I just wasn’t going to do what THEY told me to do if I didn’t see a good reason for it. Life is too short to sit in a stuffy classroom taking multiple choice… Read more ›
Monday, June 1, 2009
The Question For as long as I can remember, Sudbury Valley School has stated that its reason for existence, in a nutshell, is to provide an environment, suitable for our place and time, in which children can take responsibility for preparing… Read more ›
Friday, May 1, 2009
Note: This is an edited version of a talk delivered at Fairfield School in Wolfeville, Nova Scotia. Over the years, many studies have been done of the graduates of Sudbury Valley School to see whether an environment that is beautiful for childhood… Read more ›
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Musings on the School's 40th Anniversary 1 Forty years ago, in February of 1968, the papers of incorporation of The Sudbury Valley School, Inc., were signed, and we came into being as an official institution. That's a very exciting memory, and this… Read more ›
Sunday, March 1, 2009
It occurred to me that the people best able to answer the concerns that parents and others have about the SVS mode of education are the students who experience it themselves. So, one day I sat down with seven teenagers and a tape recorder and I… Read more ›
Sunday, February 1, 2009
I believe that in the long run, history will decide that the major legacy of the twentieth century has been the extension of the concept of individual rights and personal liberty to all adults, everywhere. One hundred years ago, these concepts were… Read more ›
Thursday, January 1, 2009
All the high-sounding rhetoric about educational reform makes most people think that something really good is in the air. Educators, political leaders, academics, and the intellectual community in general all seem to be four-square behind a movement… Read more ›
Monday, December 1, 2008
Note: This is a talk that was delivered at Harvard University, Graduate School of Education, in May of 2000. I would like to start in the middle. Before I talk about the basic features of a Sudbury school, I would like to talk about two central… Read more ›
Saturday, November 1, 2008
I Democracy has always been a central concept for Sudbury Valley School. In fact, one can properly say that liberal democracy defines the school: a place where all stakeholders have an equal say in governing the community, where all have equal… Read more ›
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
This is an edited transcript of a talk delivered at the April 2000 International Conference on Learning in the 21st Century, sponsored by Arthur Andersen. What I'm going to do here is go back to first principles, and ask a few questions that I think… Read more ›
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Some Autobiographical Reflections1 I have zealously guarded my failing report cards from the 10th grade, which was to be my last year of secondary education in a traditional school. And I'll admit, I have a bit of pride in them still. One of them… Read more ›
Sunday, June 1, 2008
I think the United States at the dawn of a new millennium has got itself into a very big pickle in the matter of education. To explain this pickle I'm going to set out two definitions and then tell two stories. The word to be defined is student. The… Read more ›