Now welcoming enrollment for the 2018-2019 school year

Because we are such a unique school, we offer 1 week trial periods.

For complete details, please consult the Admissions Director.  You can email him at enrollment@sudburyschool.com

The Psychological Ecology of Sudbury

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When I tell people about how Hudson Valley Sudbury School (HVSS) works, they sometimes ask if it’s like William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. They imagine a vicious world of savage children struggling for supremacy, gnawing on limbs, and skewering random stuff with sharpened sticks.  They even bring up anecdotes from their own experience to suggest that we should expect brutality to rein under the conditions we maintain at our school; they’ll say something like, “in my high school, if the teacher ever stepped out of the classroom, even for a second, a fight would break out.”  I understand - I’ve even worked in a school where that was indeed the case. If not a fight, something transgressive would happen - a champion would emerge from the rows of desks to make some raucous gesture of contempt for authority, to the hoots and applause of classmates.  And when we attempted to have unstructured time, like a recess, there was almost always an actual fistfight. At that school, the adults micromanaged the students as much as possible. The more control a teacher was able to exert over students, the more highly that teacher was regarded; power, and the control it afforded, was the highest good.  The most effective teachers were known for directing students with military precision, drilling them in posture and guidelines which sharply restricted how they could move their bodies, even while seated, and where they could direct their gaze at any particular moment. In such an excruciating and oppressive environment, tense but utterly boring, people find ways to rebel - not because they can’t handle freedom maturely when they find or steal a moment of it, but because they are deprived of it.  Their “transgressions” are hardly evidence of immaturity; they are, rather, evidence of an unhealthy ecology of relationships. The boys in Lord of the Flies were cultivated within a culture of mistrust and assimilated into a brutal hierarchy at their mid-20th century English boarding school.  Left to their own devices, they recreated the ecology of their native psychological habitat. Lord of the Flies is not a cautionary tale about freedom; it’s a cautionary tale about oppression.

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What the Sudbury Model is Really About

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As a child of the 1990’s, I grew up a cultural orphan, severed from the traditions and worldview of my ancestors, even of my grandparents.  I had no religion, or explicit system for understanding and thinking, and I experienced this lack as a bewildering vertigo. Nevertheless I longed for meaning, and I was thus vulnerable to every sweet-talking spiritual terrorist and ancient sage who popped into my field of vision.  The philosophical foundation of my psychic environment was materialistic and nihilistic, and for much of my childhood I tottered about swollen with anxiety like a balloon on legs. Matchstick legs. I felt, experienced, and lived all this rather than understood, thought, or articulated it; I was engulfed in a cloud of uncertainty which masqueraded as freedom.  These days, I know this to be a phenomenon new to the human scene, and that it is called “postmodernism,” but at the time it was the only world I knew - the lonely, drifting planet of my birth.

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Compulsory Math is a Bizarre Institution

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Math is vital to civilization. But it doesn’t follow that everyone should be made to study it.

Math is a ubiquitous requirement in school curriculums all over the world, even though most adults don’t know any math and are no worse for the wear. So what gives? Why do we require every child in the country to receive 10-13 years of instruction in math?

One reason seems to be that math is a natural fit for our data-obsessed society; math skills are easier to measure than other types of academic skills, and educators and policy makers can compare scores, compile data, make comparisons, and utilize it all for political ends. Another reason is just that, having signed kids up for compulsory education, we need to find something for them to do, and math fits the bill nicely: it takes lots and lots of time to get a classroom of diverse cognitive abilities on the same page and progressing together through sets of skills, plus all those numbers and equations look good on a blackboard, and there’s always more worksheets if you finish early. Presumably, math is also relevant to making a living, but that’s only true for a select few..

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Contact Us

Hudson Valley Sudbury School

84 Zena Road
Kingston, NY 12401
 
Phone: 845-679-1002
Fax: 845-679-3874