Fairhaven Blog

Unencumbered Learning – A Parent Perspective

“What struck me was that this student was comfortable in her not-knowing. She didn’t feel compelled to justify her answer, to apologize for what she didn’t know, or any number of other possible responses. Her knowing felt both true and unencumbered. As a person who went through traditional schooling, I am very aware of how my learning is anything but unencumbered.”

What I’ve Learned at Sudbury Schools

We all think our kids are special and brilliant and couldn’t possibly do the bone-headed things other kids do. As a staff member with two kids at school, I was able to see that my kids—although, of course, brilliant and special—were among peers who were equally brilliant and special, and that my kids were just as capable of spinning tales at the dinner table about why they’d been hauled into JC through no fault of their own.

Now Showing: Adaptability and Problem-Solving

Another winter, another theatre production (or two). As students and I were striking the set and packing up the costumes, sound equipment, light board, and props, the student who played both Dr. Horrible and Brenda the fairy ballerina said to me, “Problem solving skills, adaptability, abilities needed to function independently—I think I just went through all of those things in the past two months!” He was referring to the thesis statement he will soon be defending in order to graduate. The exact language each diploma candidate must defend is the following: “My experiences while at Fairhaven School  have enabled me to develop the problem-solving skills, the adaptability, and the abilities needed to function independently and responsibly in the world that I am about to enter.”

Lessons in "No"

The Kitchen Corporation at Fairhaven School had organized its annual trip to serve sandwiches to the needy clients of the Lighthouse Shelter in Annapolis. With money they had raised by selling meals and cookies to fellow School Meeting members throughout the year, they had made thirty lunches, and their youngest, most enthusiastic member was chomping at the bit to go outside the office.

Then the staff member organizing the trip realized that the student had been recently referred to School Meeting and was, therefore,  not allowed to go on field trips. Tempted to stave off his disappointment, my colleague considered writing herself up for violating the “no field trips when referred” policy and taking the consequences in JC ( Judicial Committee) afterwards. The student, all of seven years old, took the setback in stride, tears welling in his eyes, only asking for mint chocolate chip ice cream from their traditional post-service celebration, and here was another lesson in “no” for a Fairhaven School student.

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