Inspired by the original Sudbury Valley School in Massachusetts, our school’s founding families established Clearview Sudbury School in 2009. Their hard work and sacrifice has kept the learning community going strong since then. Despite a brief closure during the pandemic, Clearview continues to provide self-directed learners with the only democratic school option in the Austin metro area.
What We Stand For
At the heart of our method are the beliefs that all interests and work have equal value and that children, like all people, learn best when focusing on what interests them. Within the bounds of the school rules, students are free to pursue any activity they choose.
A Democratic School
Clearview Sudbury School is a democratic school, in which a democratic government ties the success of the school to the authentic investment of its individuals. A democratic school environment is an effective means of protecting the rights of all individuals in the school. Being a legitimate part of a democracy provides empowerment and a sense of purpose. Adults are expected to lead, set and achieve goals, and solve problems in meaningful ways. We allow children to cultivate these qualities in the time and way that works for them.
The school is operated by the School Meeting. All students and staff each have one vote. Decisions made by the School Meeting utilize Robert’s Rules of Order. Meetings occur at least once per week. Here, students and staff debate and decide all matters pertaining to the operation of the school. This includes the creation and amendment of the school rules, the forming of committees and activities, the election of staff, and the annual budget.
How we resolve issues where rules are broken
The Judicial Committee (JC) is an important part of how school rules are maintained in a way that helps children take responsibility for their actions. Typically, the JC is comprised of a randomly selected panel including students and one staff member.
One of the great strengths of the school is that students are leaders in holding themselves and other students responsible for their actions. Since students have a voice in determining the rules through the school meeting, students are also given the responsibility of determining whether a rule has been broken.
When the JC is asked to investigate a potential problem, they invite all involved parties to provide their side of the story. After learning as much as they can about what happened, if the student is found to have broken the rule, the JC makes a determination on what action would best help the student learn to respect the rule.
The free interaction between children of different ages is a natural result of the non-hierarchical structure of the school. It is one of the key differences between Sudbury schools and other alternative school models.
On any given day, an 8-, 13- and 16-year-old may associate together over the game they all enjoy. A five year old will drag an eighteen year old giggling through an epic, nonsensical adventure. A 40-something, 20-something and 15-year-old might be meeting to review the data from the school’s most recent online advertising campaign. Students learn how to work on shared goals with people at all different levels of experience.
“One of the crucial defining characteristics of play is that is directed by the children
or players themselves. It’s self-directed. Adult-directed games like sports, or activities in school where a teacher is telling children what to do, is not play by my definition.” – Peter Gray
Peter Gray, advocate of self-directed education, psychologist and author of Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life has studied the evolutionary purpose of play and the effects of free play’s decline in the past three decades. He says,
Students at Sudbury schools spend a lot of time playing. Curiosity and play propel each other; they both involve exploration of the unknown. Through play, humans discover their interests, test natural (rather than arbitrary) boundaries, and find the “flow” state where their minds are open to new insights. They learn without realizing they are learning.
FOR MORE RESOURCES
The Clearview Sudbury School is committed to the principle of equal opportunity in education and employment. CSS does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, or national or ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, employment policies, financial aid, and any other administered programs and activities.