A Happy-Ending Story

I recently spent an hour explaining the Fairhaven/Sudbury model to a relative and friend, whose brilliant, unusual son is dealing with a public school system that expects normalcy, appropriateness, passivity, and neutrality from its students. I was reminded of how important it is (and sent him links to Danny Mydlack’s so-cool documentary)* that we have some other options, other models, other modalities of “education.” So glad — so very glad — that there are other options demonstrated, even celebrated, within Fairhaven. A while ago I had a different conversation with a father of a Fairhaven student, who literally feared he was truly ruining his son’s life forever, by allowing him to attend Fairhaven. Most importantly, I told him that I had likewise been fearful throughout those five years at Fairhaven, fearful that I was taking a risk with my son’s life and future. Then I told him flat-out that I had been wrong –that my son, who had spent five years “doing nothing” at Fairhaven, had just graduated from college with a 3.51 GPA, and was unquestionably a stronger, happier human being because of his five years of freedom, unimpeded curiosity, and direct, responsible democracy. I wasn’t as eloquent with him, of course, but he did seem a little less fearful after hearing a happy-ending story. Parents will always be fearful of making a mistake that ruins their children’s lives. I sure was, though I feared it less and less as my own “unusual son” blossomed over those five years. It’s important, what Fairhaven has done, and continues to do. Staff and students: I want to pass on my appreciation of what you guys are doing, and how important the work you are doing is, to those who must confront stupid educational models, educational structures, educational missions. Thanks, guys! Michael Jensen Parent of Alumni Fairhaven School, Inc. Board of Trustees member *