Every student is honored at Sunset Sudbury School – In a traditional school, the principal and the teachers have more power than students. The students are the lowest entities in the school. Students are ranked and valued, and devalued, based on academic and social measures interpreted by administrators. At Sunset Sudbury School, all students are treated with respect. The democratic school community – consisting of both students and adult staff members – determines the rules of the school community and the expectations for the community members. Every student’s opinion and individuality is honored through the democratic voting process for all decision-making at Sunset Sudbury School.
SunsetSudbury School students want to go to school – Students enjoy their school community and flourish in it. The students arrive excited to start their day and leave reluctantly when their parents pick them up in the afternoon. School holidays are met with ‘boos’ and ‘sighs’ rather than excitement or relief. One family of a young elementary school student shared a weekend conversation.
All activities are determined by the students – At Sunset Sudbury School, all activities are valued equally. Whether a student chooses to explore bugs, watercolors, algebra, video games or world history, the activity is respected because the student chose to do it. This allows a student to thoroughly study and explore a topic until they choose another adventure.
Sudbury students are self-motivated – Just like when they were 3 or 4 years old, Sunset Sudbury students are eager to learn new things. Traditional schools train kids to sit back and wait for the teacher’s instruction. Sunset Sudbury students have a natural curiosity and interest in new things. Therefore, they are continually trying experimenting, learning new skills and asking deeper questions.
Age-mixing versus separation by age. – Image a 7-year-old demonstrating the reaction of baking soda and vinegar to a group of 5-year-olds with his self-made volcano. The 9-year-old jumps in to explain when to add more vinegar. The students of all ages work together. When the students work and play together, students with small hands or less dexterity still get the fun and excitement of more detailed experiments.