The longest lasting, most effective learning is actively pursued by the learner. Learning motivated by a genuine interest is fundamentally superior to externally motivated learning. Our students self-determine their own activities and goals and self-assess their progress. With no timetable or curriculum students can self-pace their learning with no concept of ‘falling behind’.
Students in Sudbury model settings benefit hugely from mixing with others of all ages, looking up to those ahead of them, observing and learning from them as role models, being spurred on by the challenges and skills they are yet to complete and gain. Age mixing encourages older students to be more creative and playful and to have compassion and consideration for those younger than you. It encourages younger students to take more responsibility, gain new skills, and learn from a diverse group of individuals at different stages in their life.
In our setting students have all the time in the world for their interests and pursuits. They have time to play, time to socialise, time to think, time to just be. Most importantly they have the time to learn how to learn. Having time allows children the space to problem solve, decipher, practice and engage with the world around them and the skills they want to focus on. It allows them to delve deeper and practice until a skill or knowledge is satisfied. We believe that if a person knows how to effectively learn then they can go on to achieve all they wish to achieve. Our setting gives children the time to discover what they need to know in order to become life long learners.
No one in our setting is striving to keep students entertained or productive. This can lead to students feeling bored at times. Rather than a downside, this is an important opportunity for self-reflection, a chance to discover what it means to waste time and or use it productively. We like to talk about that moment of boredom as being on the diving board, teetering on the edge poised ready to dive into something new.
Community members with shared interests can form clubs to further their interest and organise their resources and activities. These ‘clubs’ need to be organised well in order to successfully run. Students of all ages can initiate or join clubs. Clubs organise themselves as they wish but if that group needs resources then they will have to put a case forward for funds to the School Meeting or raise it themselves. This is just one way in which reasoning, analytical, organisational and collaboration skills are acquired and honed.
The community is governed by the School Meeting with each member having one equal weight vote, empowering students to enact change and take responsibility for their community. Rule breaks and issues are handled by the mixed-age Judicial Committee and students can assist with the running of the school by applying to sit on committees or take up clerkships.