Sun, 24 Oct 1999 15:20:48 EDT
Summerhill is a boarding school. Most Sudbury schools are not. Therefore
the cultures of Sudbury schools depend a great deal on the life of students
outside the school, as well as what happens in the school day. A boarding
school must have a much more self-contained culture; this has beauties and
Summerhill is a modified democracy. The students and staff are responsible
for the rules, and certain other things. Sudbury schools, in general, are
absolute participatory democracies -- no decisions are made by Trustees,
owners (although every student, parent and staff member is an "owner" in the
case of Sudbury schools), or any other body that excludes students and/or
staff. An easy way to see that is: the total budget making of a Sudbury
school is done by the School Meeting (students and staff), modified by the
Assembly (students, staff and parents). Another easy way: at Summerhill,
staff hiring is not the province of the School Meeting members. At Sudbury
schools, generally, the School Meeting is the only body that has a say in
such important deliberations.
Classes are another area of difference. In Sudbury schools, classes pretty
much exist only when, and if, students demand them. They come and go.
Summerhill has set courses that they hope students will cover, and they are
always offered. Sudbury schools never need "teachers". Summerhill must?
But when you get down to the most important things, the two models, I think,
join: students feel responsible for their institutions in both models; they
feel empowered. And free to develop themselves as they see fit. Former
students, I think, feel much more in control of their destiny that students
from most other school models.
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