Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Christian's Journey to Sudbury

On this journey to establishing a Sudbury school, I (the founder) have faced many questions from the Christian community.  I am a Christian and a pretty conservative one at that.  However, in my 20 years of being in education and more than half of those working in Christian schools I must say that I am tired of seeing the same scenario take place.  A child of a Christian home, goes through school in this perfectly sheltered environment.  They memorize their Bible verses.  They participate in Bible class.  They go to chapel.  They obey all of the laws the school has set to "follow Christ."  On weekends, they go to youth group.  They go to church on Sunday.  They have family devotions.  THEN they graduate from high school and do some of the craziest things in college.  They have sex with whomever, whenever.  They run up a high credit card bill.  They get drunk WAY too much.  They experiment with drugs.  They decide not to go to classes and either flunk out or go on academic probation.  They change majors over and over and over until they don't even know who they are anymore.  I am tired of this scenario! 

The year before I opened the school I was faced with the realization that my son was turning 5 and would be starting his formal education.  I reflected on what I'd experienced as an educator and the countless number of young people who go through school, graduate and end up being on a path that the parents are ashamed of and making life decisions that will negatively affect them for the rest of their lives.  How could I provide an opportunity for my son to not only get the academics that he needs, but how could I help him achieve his goals?  How could I help him learn to make wise decisions on his own?  How could I teach him to manage his time, money and life wisely? I literally became afraid, because all I could think of is just doing what I've
seen other Christian parents do and hope for the best.  But I did not wan to play Russian Roulette with this!  I did not care WHAT he became when he grew up, but I just wanted him to be happy, to make wise decisions, to feel fulfilled, to be what he feels he was called to do, to be a law-abiding citizen and I wanted him to choose on his own to walk with the Lord.  I did not know how to give that opportunity to my son until I came across the Sudbury Model.  The whole set up of the model:  the school meeting, the Judicial committee, the right for students to basically run the school...allows children to learn to think for themselves. They think and weigh out the pros and cons.  They think before they act.  They think about who they are and what they believe. They think about how their choices can affect a community.  They think about others besides themselves! There is still a little bit of Russian Roulette in this process because they could still choose not to be a Christian, BUT they will not make that choice out of some empty emotion, but they will be given the opportunity to question the Bible and the tenets of their faith before making that decision.  Also, if after doing that they decide to choose Christ for themselves, then when they go to college, they will most likely be focused on who they are and what their goals are.  They will on their own (without mommy or daddy supervising them) walk with God, go to class, obey the law, make wise life decisions and so on. 

In giving this opportunity to my son, I am actually protecting him more.  In giving him (and my other 2 children) freedom, I am actually sheltering them.  The only way you can truly protect your child is to give them the opportunity to learn to think for themselves and in doing that they learn to become responsible adults...while they are still quite young AND without mommy or daddy standing over their shoulders 24 hours a day (because honestly that is just impossible).


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  3. Hi! I'm so glad I discovered you. We homeschool our only son. He's now six and I've noticed two things. He has learned a ton on his own (cursive, piano, foreign languages, double digit addition, etc...) and he has begun to hate school. So I researched the Sudbury model. I like it, but wonder how it would work.
    1.What about gaps? Most Sudbury students interviewed don't know who MLK Jr. was.
    2.How do I get him to set goals for himself?
    3. How do I record his progress? We have a forgiving state, but for my own consolation.
    4.How could I make up for lack of peer interaction with him being an "only?"
    5. How do you push the learning to go a bit further? So he draws a picture if a jellyfish. Great! How do I get him to learn more?
    7. How do you support it with Scripture?
    8. How do I evaluate what he's learned from year to year? Keep records?
    9. How do I protect him from false history or rewritten history? What about literature?
    10. How do I create that sense of democracy and equality in a home?
    Probably more questions in my brain, but that's what I came up with overnight.

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