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.
The school is operated by the School Meeting. All students and staff each have one vote. The meeting utilizes 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 election of staff, and the annual budget.
How we resolve issues where rules are broken
The 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 group of 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.
For Example: Let’s say the School meeting votes to set a rule that students must clean up art supplies they use after they are finished. Let’s say that a student named Joe fails to follow these guidelines and leaves a mess. Another student named Mary goes to use these supplies and asks Joe to clean up the mess. Joe says he doesn’t want to because he is busy in a different activity.
Mary can then fill out a complaint form to report the issue. The JC then will ask Joe and Mary to tell their stories, and may call on other witnesses. If the JC determines Joe didn’t follow the rule, they would make their decision known and find an appropriate consequence such as having Joe clean up the supplies if possible, or they may ask Joe not to use the art supplies for a day.
The experience from other Sudbury schools is that students are more receptive to feedback from their peers than adults and are more likely to take responsibility for following the rules in the future. This type of process will be better for Joe in the long run than simple adult direction because it helps Joe recognize and internalize that he is part of the community and needs to follow the rules. This example would also benefit Mary since she now has a stronger sense that she can act to make sure her own learning is respected. Finally, the JC members learn the value of hearing both sides of the story and determining a fair resolution.
is a natural result of the non-hierarchical structure of the school.
On any given day, an eight, thirteen and sixteen 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 forty something, thirty something and fifteen year old might be meeting to review the data from the school’s most recent online advertising campaign. Students learn how to work with people at all different levels of experience on shared goals.
Students at Sudbury schools spend a lot of time playing. A common misconception is that play is mindless activity. Play is any activity with an indeterminate component; where not all of the boundaries are previously set. Curiosity and play propel each other, they both involve exploration of the unknown. Play is naturally fun. Why? The means by which people advance is through investigation and manipulation of that which is not yet known.
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.