It is common to see a parent or teacher tell a younger child to apologize after a transgression. The thought process being that it is important to teach children to apologize. Some people will even go so far as to force the other child to accept the apology.
At MLSS we do not believe it is our place to force a child to say things they may not necessarily mean. It can cause children to think that running through the ritual of apology is more important than sincerely expressing sorrow or regret and be a negative experience for both the child forced to apologize and the one forced to accept.
In a traditional school environment education happens in straight lines. What you learn in the third grade builds on the second grade, which in turn, used the first grade as its scaffolding. You go from beginner to advanced.
In a Sudbury school students do not always learn in straight lines. A student might very well start learning a subject, stop and start a different subject, and then turn back to the first. In an example such as language, this could be beneficial. For instance, if a student starts learning Spanish, stops to learn some Italian, and goes back to Spanish, their knowledge of Italian could help them with their Spanish. A student could also start learning a subject which is viewed as more advanced than a subject they do not yet know. There is no particular reason a student shouldn’t start learning calculus before learning about U.S. history.
What is success? In a traditional school success is simple - good grades are success, better grades are more success. The ultimate success is getting into a good college, which leads to a good job, which leads to a good career, which is part of a good life.
I could write a paragraph here about what success is in a Sudbury school, but I’m not. I don’t know what college is good, if any, for you. I do not know what your ideal career is. I cannot say if any of those things make you successful. I cannot define success within a Sudbury school, because I cannot define success for another person.
Once, when I was at soccer practice, a few of my teammates, who all went to traditional school, asked me if there were any teachers at my school. I asked them what they meant and:I said that a teacher is anyone who teaches. One of them asked me if there were any people who are just supposed to teach. I responded by asking if our coach was a teacher given that he taught us how to play soccer better. One of them said no, because a teacher teaches in a classroom.
In a traditional school there are people whose job it is to impart knowledge to their students. Whereas, in a Sudbury School anyone who knows something you do not can teach you. In the ideal traditional school students seek knowledge and truth from their teachers, in a Sudbury School students seek knowledge and truth from everyone.
Liam Marshall-Butler is currently a student at MLSS.