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Sudbury - the Unschool School?
I read an article about Sudbury Schools and unschooling this article this morning and it provoked this response:
Mimsy Sadofsky's ignorance of the nature of unschooling is revealed in her article. Unschooling parents do not restrict or curtail their children's access to the world, no more than do parents of schooled children, and probably a good deal less. Of course, some might, but then again, not all schooled children have access to after-school activities, or are taken out on weekends, or allowed to have sleep overs at their friend's house, etc. Unschooled - and indeed homeschooled - children have access to a wide range of adults and children as well as activities. And it is tailored to meet the children's needs as much as it is the parents' needs: the focus is on growth, development and learning of all the individuals within the family (whereas at school the emphasis is on the child only - how balanced is that?)
However, she had me nodding at "It is an institution that has life, and each person wishes to be sure that life will continue to be copacetic." That was my experience of an alternative educational school (democratic focus). We, the participants of the institution worked to make sure the institution survived: that was an underlying primary focus rarely mentioned aloud, indeed the effects of this continuous focus on us as participants were never mentioned or discussed. While we went on and on about how great the institution was for the individual the individual worked primarily to support the institution. Anyone that acted or behaved or thought outside of the parameters of the group culture and ideology was no longer supporting the institution. Democracy doesn't support minorities, it tolerates them, or rather minorities manage to cope and live within a system that tolerates them provided they don't rock the boat too much.
I've met hundreds of unschoolers who are searching for the perfect school. They are simply still on the deschooling path, they'll realise eventually life is the only learning institution they need.
My friend and mentor Wendy Priesnitz discusses some of the elementary differences between democratic schools and unschooling in her article Freedom or Control: Kids' Rights to Live and Learn in Freedom .
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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.
Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine
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