Wichita Sudbury School is a new alternative educational institution opening very soon in the city of Wichita. Sudbury schools are very different from traditional schools. In Sudbury schools, everyone is allowed to do whatever they want – limited only by a strong school democracy, which maintains limits that protect the individual and the community.
Sudbury schooling is based on the twin concepts of trust and responsibility. The students, members of the school community, are trusted to manage their time and make their own decisions. At the same time, all members of the community are given full responsibility over their own lives, and an equal share in responsibility for the school as a whole, by means of the school’s democratic framework.
It can be difficult to understand Sudbury schools before you have spent some time in one. These schools have a lot of structure, but not of an obvious kind – especially if you are used to the academic achievement-oriented structures of traditional schooling. People visiting a Sudbury school for the first time often get the impression that it is “recess”. But Sudbury schools don’t have recess – students are always free to move around and engage in whatever activity they are interested in pursuing. Conversation, sports, free play, art, reading and academic studies are all examples of what these activities may be – in most schools, academic studies are not the most common.
Sudbury schools allow free and unstructured activity due to the observation that given responsibility for their own time, people will seek out the activities they need most for their personal learning and development. Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time in such a school sees this in action, time and time again.