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The Sudbury Valley School Experience, 3rd edition

– tekijä: Daniel Greenberg

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioKeskustelut
201899,887 (5)-
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My review from 2008:

Sudbury Valley is a K-12 school in Framingham, Massachusetts, that gives students freedom to use their time however they choose (no grades, no required classes, etc).

The strength of Sudbury Valley is that it acknowledges what a "normal" school doesn't: that learning how to be a member of a community is more important than learning math and science. (Kids usually recognize this while they are in middle and high school, although many seem to forget by the time they have kids of their own.)

Anyway, as the book explains, our current educational system is designed to fit the needs of an industrial economy that needs workers who are able to quickly learn to do monotonous, mechanized procedures--in other words, people who can read, write, and manipulate numbers. However, our country now has a post-industrial economy; we need workers who are innovative, who create new ways of communicating and organizing information. Because people realize schools are letting students down, they assume we need to push students harder, further emphasize math and science, make students learn more knowledge. What we aren't getting is that our whole education system needs to be redesigned. Currently, it is //inherently// unsuited to fit the needs of our economy.

As the author puts it on pg. 9 - "So what kind of a school is most likely today, at the end of the twentieth century, to prepare a student best for a good career?

"We don't really have to struggle with the answer. Everyone is writing about it. This is the post industrial age. The age of information. The age of services. The age of imagination, creativity, and entrepreneurialism. The future belongs to people who can stretch their minds to handle, mold, shape, organize, play with new material, old material, new ideas, old ideas, new facts, old facts.

"These kind of activities don't take place in the average school even on an extra-curricular basis."

I also found the chapter "Do People Learn from Courses" to be very illuminating of my high school and college experience. I grew up believing that courses //would// lead to a mastery of a specific field. Around 11th grade, I began to get the sense that I might be missing something (I wouldn't remember how to do math problems that I had aced on a test a year ago; I was able to play Nintendo for 4 hours straight, but any more than 45 minutes of seriously working on physics would just about put me to sleep.) As Greenberg explains here, courses are not equipped to teach mastery of a subject. Courses can be successful in bringing students to some minimum level of proficiency at a subject (learn math well enough to do your taxes, get a certain score on the SAT) or providing good entertainment for students (kinda like a TV show: 50 minute segments viewed a couple times a week.) However, courses cannot teach students to master a subject. When you are aiming for a minimum level of proficiency, you close your mind off to other possibilities. You say `Just show me how to get the answer' or `just tell me what I need to know for the test tomorrow." Learning for mastery is entirely different. There is no minimum level that students learning for mastery are after; they would want to know everything. If a student desires to learn a subject for mastery, she would have to relearn everything that she had learned in this closed, minimum-level-of proficiency mindset.

This school realizes that education is about more than allocating economic opportunities to the hardest working students; education is about being a member in a community. Yes, economics is one aspect of this, but so is learning to take care of yourself, get along with others, and to accept responsibility when you make a mistake. ( )
  Thomas_Burwell | Dec 15, 2011 |
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