Imagine two Spanish students. The first student wants to start speaking to Spanish speakers in their community as quickly as possible. The second student wants to study Spanish in depth as an intellectual pursuit. The first student wants to learn the basic grammar and vocabulary of the Spanish variant(s) spoken near them to start speaking Spanish right away. The second Spanish student wishes to study Spanish as a whole, learning about Spanish’s regionalisms and history.
They both have legitimate aspirations, but only one of them, at most, would be satisfied in a traditional educational environment. They would both likely be left feeling unsatisfied from their experience. The first would likely be annoyed by learning words and grammar not relevant to their life or from a dialect they are unlikely to hear. The second would likely want to delve into the history of words like chicle, patata, idioma, guerra and atacar which are of Aztec, Taíno, Greek Frankish and Gothic origin respectively and learn why a word like “mano” is feminine and not masculine*.
In a Sudbury school they could both learn Spanish to the level of detail they desired. Whether they wanted to be able to have quick conversation in Spanish or read Cervantes and learn about every cultural influence and sound change from Pliny the Elder to Vincente Fox.
*”mano” was derived from the Latin word “Manus” which was part of the forth declension which had no standardized singular nominative case ending. The same sound changes which caused the members of the second declension to change from an “us” ending to an “o” also effected the feminine word “manus.”
In a piece I wrote for the newsletter I mentioned students being better able to develop their Weltanschauungs; I want to expand upon that.
“Weltanschauung” is a German word which can be translated literally as “worldview.” However, they do not mean the exact same thing. “Weltanschauung” refers to a comprehensive philosophical understanding of the world, whereas “worldview” is something everyone has as a consequence of their sentience.
Sudbury students are better able to develop a Weltanschauung of their own because of the freedom afforded them. They are not told what to think or how, so they must decide for themselves how they view the world. Because of the free environment of a Sudbury school they regularly come across people or things that, either directly or indirectly, question their previous worldview. Through this process, Sudbury students learn to develop a complex ever evolving philosophical understanding of the universe.
Liam Marshall-Butler is currently a student at MLSS.