Sudbury Experience Camp in June

We know choosing a school is not an easy thing to do, especially when we are talking about a brand new school, so we’ve decided to offer two, one-week Sudbury Experience Camp at the Lafayette Sudbury School in June. That way, interested students and parents can get to know us better and the students can explore and experience our school before committing for the fall.

For more information, click on the Sudbury Camp tab in our menu or click here.

 

Open House and Garage Sale Feb 13th, 2016

Now taking applications Lafayettesudbury.org (3)

We will be having a garage sale at our new campus February 13th between 7 am and 1 pm. Come shop with us and view our new home.

Location: 10195 Placide Road in Maurice, LA 70555

We are also accepting donations of items for the school and the garage sale. Contact us if you can help! We can even arrange for pick up!

Thank you for spreading the word.

The Only Thing Children Really Need is Freedom

Note: This article was originally published on LewRockwell.com June 11th, 2013.

As parents, we are responsible for the “education” of our children. For me, that means simply this: if my daughter, now 7, grows up to be a responsible, self-reliant, self-motivated, honest, caring, freedom-loving good neighbor, and an overall happy person, then I’ve succeeded.

I don’t have a career path laid out for her, and I don’t expect her to go to college, even though I have several degrees myself. The choice, when the time comes, will be hers and hers alone.

If you are a parent and this sounds like you, you need to pay attention.

In the recently published book Free to Learn, developmental psychologist Peter Gray argues that if this is truly our goal, “There is no need for forced lessons, lectures, assignments, tests, grades, segregation by age into classrooms, or any of the other trappings of our standard, compulsory system of schooling. All of these, in fact, interfere with children’s natural ways of learning.”

Using evidence in anthropology, psychology, and history, Gray argues that children come into this world genetically programmed to learn, and that if they are free to pursue their own interests through play, they will learn all they need to know to function in the culture in which they are born, no matter what culture that may be, or at what particular moment in time.

Children are designed, by nature, to play and explore on their own, independently of adults. They need freedom to develop; without it they suffer. The drive to play freely is a basic, biological drive. Lack of free play may not kill the physical body, as would lack of food, air, or water, but it kills the spirit and stunts mental growth. Free play is the means by which children learn to make friends, overcome their fears, solve their own problems, and generally take control of their own lives. It is also the primary means by which children practice and acquire the physical and intellectual skills that are essential for success in the culture in which they are growing. Nothing that we do, no amount of toys we buy or “quality time” or special training we give our children, can compensate for the freedom we take away. The things that children learn though their own initiatives, in free play, cannot be taught in other ways.

And as Gray points out, it is not only in schools that children have less and less freedom and hardly any time to play. Homework (which is the regime’s way of keeping parents in line, in my opinion) and extra-curricular, resume-building activities now fill our children lives after school, on weekends and all summer long. In all of those adult-directed activities, children are told what to do just about every minute and they are supervised at all times. We have lost the ability to trust children and trusting them is what we need to do. As educator John Holt said, “Nothing could be more simple, or more difficult. Difficult because to trust children we must trust ourselves, and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.”

Meanwhile, it is the children who are suffering. As Gray writes:

WE HAVE HERE A TERRIBLE IRONY. In the name of education, we have increasingly deprived children of the time and freedom they need to educate themselves though their own means. And in the name of safety, we have deprived children of the freedom they need to develop the understanding, courage, and confidence required to face life’s dangers and challenges with equanimity. We are in a crisis that continues to grow more serious with every passing year. We have lost sight of the natural way to raise children. We have, not only in the United States but also throughout the developed world, lost sight of children’s competence. We have created a world in which children must suppress their natural instincts to take charge of their own education, and instead, mindlessly follow paths to nowhere laid out for them by adults. We have created a world that is literally driving many young people crazy and leaving many others unable to develop the confidence and skills required for adult responsibility.

Gray also offers solutions. To demonstrate how we can achieve “education” in our modern society without classes, classrooms, curriculums, or testing, Gray uses Sudbury Valley School as a model. SVS, located near Boston, has been in operation since 1968 and they currently have around 200 students. Despite the lack of formal instruction, grades, or testing, surveys of graduates show that over 75% of them pursue higher education (with no reported difficulties in being accepted or in succeeding).

At SVS, children are allowed the same freedom and rights we have as adults. They are respected as individuals and are allowed to pursue their own interests so long as they do not infringe on the rights of others in the school community. The school, the staff (they are not called “teachers”), the resources are there for the students to use as needed. Each child is 100% free to explore the world in his own way and at his own pace.

The school is also self-governing with each child and staff having a vote and being allowed to participate in the running of the school, including the voting of rules, the allocation of resources (budget), and the hiring (and firing) of staff. Rules infractions are dealt with through a Judicial committee that evaluates, investigates, and ultimately issues sentences if a party is found guilty.

In short, students at SVS, and in other Sudbury schools in the US and abroad, are enjoying life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, while learning to take responsibility for their actions, education, and lives, and learning to live as members of a democratic society.

And it works! At SVS, it has been working for 45 years, but who’s counting?

What Gray’s research also confirms, and what many parents have known all along, is that there is nothing wrong with our children. They do not need “fixing” and certainly not with drugs. We, as a society, are making our kids miserable, anxious, depressed, and stressed, drugging some of them so they can get through their day, for no benefit whatsoever. What we are doing to our children through “schools” is not only unnecessary, it is cruel and becoming increasingly dangerous.

Childhood is not a disease or a mental disorder. We simply need to stop treating it like one and as parents, we need to learn to trust and respect our children as the human beings that they are.

Free to Learn is, in my opinion, the ONE book every parent should read to really understand the nature of human education (how our children learn) and how we can best facilitate our children’s natural instinct to educate themselves. This is where we need to go back to basics, not in math, reading, or sciences. And you’ll find that the answer can ultimately be found in one little word:

Freedom.

We Live, We Love, We Learn; We Unschool

“I have traveled ten million miles over the past twelve years searching for answers for how we might fix schools to help us in the creation of good people, good citizens, and good individual lives. No model is more promising than the Sudbury model. I would urge parents to give this model a close look. Trust your kids; they will surprise you.”
John Taylor Gatto

My Sudbury School journey began about 12 years ago while I was doing research on education for my PhD dissertation. This is also the time when I first discovered John Taylor Gatto and his Underground History of American Education, LewRockwell.com and the Mises Institute. My ideas about education and “schooling” were forever changed within only a few weeks, and there is no going back.

The irony is that I spent a whooping 23 years (yes 23) in “schools” (not including Kindergarten), and I came out believing in “unschooling.” Go figure!

When I came across and started reading about the Sudbury school model, there was no doubt in my mind that I had found the school of my dreams, the one I would have loved to attend myself, and the one I wanted for my (future) child. I even borrowed $500 from my mother so I could order the start up kit from the Sudbury Valley School, I read everything I could, and I began talking to people around me about Sudbury.

I never got very far and could tell, from the look on people’s faces, that they thought I had just lost it. We’re talking about a school where there are no scheduled classes, no curriculum being followed, and no mandatory testing whatsoever. Children of all ages decide what they will do, when, where, and with whom.

After a while, I became really tired of answering the same questions over and over: “how do you know they are learning if you don’t test them? What if they decide to watch TV or play video games all day? How will they get into college if they have no grades and no report cards? Is that even legal? How will you get the state to approve such a school?” And so on. The start up kit went into the closet and I went on with my life.

In 2005, our beautiful baby girl came into our lives. Before she was even born, we knew that we didn’t want her “schooled” in a traditional way: scheduled mandatory classes all day with bells ringing in between, the drilling and memorizing, just a few minutes of recess daily, hours of homework every night, and incessant testing. We don’t believe children learn that way, or people for that matter; life is not “standardized.”

In Lafayette, our thinking didn’t leave us with many school options. Just about all the schools, public or private around here follow this traditional model. We considered a Montessori school in town though we were never able to get in touch with the owner of the school.

There was also another Montessori near Sunset a couple of years ago where I would have loved for her to go full time however, it meant about 4 hours in the car every day because of where we live, and for her age group, they only offered 1/2 days.

Here’s the funny thing, though: had these schools been Sudbury schools, I would have done everything in my power to register our daughter, and I would have driven the 35+ miles of country roads (one way) every day for her to attend.

Heck, I even thought about moving to Framingham, MA, home of the Sudbury Valley School, but I left Canada 18 years ago to get away from the cold and have no interest of going back up north. Besides, my Cajun husband is just not going anywhere. Those of you who know Cajuns understand what I’m talking about.

So this past summer, Lynn (my husband) and I made a decision that we were going to unschool and that we would once again make an effort to open a Sudbury school in the Lafayette area by seeking other parents and children who want this type of education. This is how this blog/website came about and our LafayetteSudbury Facebook page.

You see, I have a hard time believing that we’re the only ones in the Lafayette area embracing unschooling and a student-led education and I keep thinking that someday, somehow, words of our Sudbury school will travel and reach these fine folks who don’t know we’re here, yet.

And if we never get our Sudbury school off the ground, that’s ok, too. My child will still be unschooled and will be allowed to discover our world and what life is about on her own schedule and her own terms.

We live, we love, we learn; we unschool. Care to join us?