Lessons from Sudbury, part 1

As Sudbury parents, you may wonder about what your child does at school.  You know they are learning, but what are they learning?  As Sudbury staff, we have the opportunity to see your children learn and grow hour-by-hour in an empowering environment.  I wanted to share a recent event that demonstrates some amazing life skills that are emerging.  The names have been changed for the sake of anonymity.   

Brandon was playing a game today, something like tag with the other students.  Suddenly, he came stomping into the hallway saying, “Molly keeps changing the rules of the game.  We already did the rules.  I’m frustrated.”

“Then you should tell Molly how that makes you feel,” I said.

“But I don’t want to hurt her feelings.  Will you come with me to tell her?” he said.

“I wasn’t there Brandon.  You need to tell Molly how you feel.  I know you can do it.”

Brandon did not.  Brandon entertained himself for a while.

Two hours later, Brandon was playing a similar game with other students.  Brandon was frustrated again because rules were being changed and his shirt got pulled.  Instead of coming to a staff member, Brandon said,

“I don’t like when the rules change and I don’t want my shirt to get pulled.  I will only play if the rules stay the same and no one pulls my shirt.”

The other students thought about what Brandon said and unanimously responded, “OK!”  The game continued and all students were happy and included.  

Brandon spoke up for himself today.  Perhaps it was the first time Brandon ever spoke up for himself.  He did not receive a sticker or a reward for his effort.  He did not get an “A+” for personal development.  No adult intervened on Brandon’s behalf and no one patted him on the back.  He found confidence in his own ability to speak up for himself.  

What is that lesson worth to a student or to any person’s life?  We cannot possibly quantify it but we are proud to create the environment that enables such moments to happen.    

-Dave Soleil