The Sudbury philosophy is a unique approach to education based on children's natural desire to learn. Here are a few things Tallgrass students have shared about their experiences:
- "I like doing a lot of stuff here: making music and doing art projects, and playing around.... There’s a lot of people, and they have a lot of different interests, and there’s lots of different subjects that I bring up." - Ruben, age 8
- "If you want to take a class... you could be like 10, someone else could be 15, and it’s not like 'you’re not old enough.'" Ashlee, age 9
- "I like to read and draw, I like algebra class, I like to go to the candy store, I like writing stories." - Lydia, age 14
- "You learn about how other people have different points of view; it makes you a better person, helps you to understand that the world doesn’t revolve around you." - Dan, age 15
- "I'm confident in my own abilities and I'm confident that I'll continue learning after I leave the school. You also learn a lot more about being in the real world... because you learn how to deal with people you wouldn't necessarily get along with, and how to take care of yourself." - Cassie, age 17
The Sudbury model was pioneered by the Sudbury Valley School, founded in 1968. In the five decades since, dozens of Sudbury schools have emerged and thousands of students have graduated and gone on to become successful, happy adults. Students love attending Sudbury schools because of the freedom it gives them to explore their passions and interests, and the responsibility they're able to take for their community.
In a Sudbury school, students create their own curriculum and are free to spend their time however they choose. Despite the lack of compulsory instruction, every student who has attended a Sudbury school for an extended time has learned to read, write, do basic math, and pursued academic or vocational interests. Just as importantly, Sudbury students develop strong social and emotional skills that serve them for the rest of their lives. Many Sudbury graduates attend college, and many have become successful entrepreneurs.
The Sudbury model does not have strict roles for students and teachers. Every member of the school is both a student and a teacher at any given time. The role of staff members is to mentor and help students seek resources, not to be an authority figure and tell students what to do or not do.
When children are free to manage their time and education, they develop confidence, independence, responsibility, and resourcefulness. And when they have the choice of what to learn and when, they keep their love of learning throughout their lives. While Sudbury graduates might not have take all of the classes traditional students do, their self-motivation and self-confidence allow them to excel in both higher education and their careers.