Re: New School Opens in Northwest

Freekids (Freekids@aol.com)
Fri, 13 Mar 1998 14:00:37 EST

Hi Sadie & Others,

This is Stuart Williams-Ley, a staff member at Cedarwood Sudbury School in
Santa Clara, CA. Recently Sadie Lovely announced the opening of her "Real
Life Academy" on this list, and I followed up by reading her web site at
www.accessone.com/~lovelys/RLA. (I had to search my keyboard for that
"tilden" character.)

It is truly a fine web site, and in general the values expressed in the site
are in accordance with my own. I did wonder about a few things, though, in
particular this statement:

<<Along with the required forms, we are required to study eleven separate
subjects per year, no matter what “grade” you are in. This is where it gets
interesting. You, the student, and I sit down together, and work out our goals
for the school year. You decide what you would like to study in each subject
and we write it down. These are our “objectives” for the year. As these goals
are met, they are logged. As the “teacher” I am obligated to make quarterly
comments on your progress for your academic record, or you may take annual
standardized tests (yuck!). This will help you when you are preparing to take
college courses, apply to colleges, or if you eventually decide to return to
public school.>>

Is the law in Washington really that demanding? If you follow the law, it
seems to largely negate the school's commitment to letting students pursue
their own goals.

Further, students would have to convince the teacher that their work fulfills
the law's requirements, which places a great deal of power in the teacher's
hands. Granted, the school's fundamental premise appears to be that the
teacher will allow students to fulfill the requirements in diverse ways. I am
nonetheless concerned that the whole rigamarole of subjects, objectives, and
quarterly evaluations will cause students to narrow their vision about what
education is about. Having to convince a powerful (albeit supportive) adult
that they are progressing in these areas may distort how they approach their
education.

That said, I imagine the Academy will represent a humane alternative for many
kids.

Stuart