Saturday, September 17, 2016

Bible within a Sudbury Context

From the founder: I want to attempt to show what the Sudbury model within a Christian environment may look like. I chose this model of education because as one being a Christian since a little girl and growing up in a church, I saw a pattern of kids growing up in the church and then as soon as they begin college, they leave the faith. I began to ask myself and God, "Why is this happening?" I thought they believed? They grew up in the church. Their parents are strong Christians!" After many years of doing this questioning and also wondering what would happen with my own kids, I believe God led me to the Sudbury Model. It was a total accident. Something I stumbled upon. Something that at first my friends and family thought I had gone insane. This week, however, I experienced something that made me realize what drew me to this model. A student and I sat down to chat this week. In his times of chatting with his schoolmates he had expressed that he was not a Christian. His friends tried to convince him to believe, but he wasn't moving (I love that kids have the freedom to discuss their religion as opposed to a Bible teacher lecturing them every day). I overheard these discussions. Other staff members discussed it too, but not in a way to condemn him. In his time with staff he has been allowed to share his lack of Christian belief and it was allowed. Some may say, "Oh NO! Don't do that!" Well, didn't we all have the freedom to one day CHOOSE God? Didn't we all go through the process of discovring Christianity for ourselves and defining it for ourselves, as opposed to just believing whatever mommy and daddy said? As adults we forget our journey. Why can't kids have the same right and freedom? Kids have questions! We need to let them ask those questions and explore them! Anyway, the student and I sat to talk this week and it was an awesome conversation. Come to find out, he NEVER believed, he said. He just went to church because he was forced to. I asked him how he felt about being at the school with all these Christians around. I asked him what caused him NOT to believe and how old he was when he realized that he didn't (he was 6). I only asked questions and let him answer. I did not try to indoctrinate or convert. I only asked questions to help me understand where he was and how he arrived there. I look forward to furthering this dialogue and I literally have NO idea where it will lead, but I am perfectly within my rights to listen to him, ask him questions and even share my beliefs.   I will say, that I do feel glad that he is in a place where he can openly talk about this and maybe through discussion, questioning, wondering, and adults not forcing their beliefs on him, he will choose Christianity for himself. Either way, at least he will feel loved unconditionally in the process.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A New Writing Class

I had a very interesting conversation with one of our young people yesterday. He shared with me that he was writing this 6 page paper for a project he was working on and wanted me to look at it. I read it and although his thoughts were great, grammatically it was way off. The traditionalist in me wanted to immediately start "teaching" him how to fix the paper. Instead, we read it together and I began to highlite areas that I thought needed "tweaking." From there we both end up having this deep discussion on how he along with his friends don't really understand how grammar works. They guess when to put a period, as opposed to knowing the exact formula to how that all works. I then shared with him how the majority of the PG County schools do not teach this and most students I've met from this area, have no idea how to write properly. It's so bad that PG Community College is often called the 13th grade because of the amount of students who enter there without the skills needed to enter college. In fact they cannot even enter regular community college classes without taking the remedial courses. So he and I are talking about this and he was floored. Mind you, I never cracked open an English book or started to lecture or handed out worksheets for him to do. We were just talking. He shared his experiences with schools and how they had not taught him to write, etc. He shared what he noticed among his friends and their writing. And we are just talking. A 42 year old educator with a 15 year old young person...just talking. Soon HE asks me (and not the other way around) if I could show him how to write. I told him I could pull some things together. I told him that he only has 2.5 years to get his writing to a point where he won't have to go to the 13th grade and he says to me AND I QUOTE! "Ms. Anika, isn't this school about students working at their own pace? I want to learn this and I don't think any of us who take this class with you should be able to graduate until we understand how to write." Of course I would not plan to do something like that, but isn't that just the coolest thing? A 15 year old student telling ME to teach him how to write. We are still growing and learning about Sudbury, but this is a classic example, I believe of how classes are formed. Instead of us setting out with a long list of required courses, we engage in these discussions with students in order to support them as they figure out their interests, etc. This is why when you visit us, it may seem like kids are just hanging out, but they are not. They are thinking and figuring out who they are and where they want to go and the staff is available to help them sort through all that. It takes a lot of patience and faith, but it really works.