In some ways, our goal is fundamentally different than that of a traditional school. In effect, the goal of a traditional school is to teach a specific set of information – everything else that may happen within a traditional school is considered secondary to this learning of a curriculum.
Our goal is not to just teach students a rigid set of information. Our goal is to prepare students be well-rounded, thoughtful, confident, capable and engaged and responsible adults.
We believe that humans, and thus children, are naturally curious beings. Very often, the rigidity and lack of intellectual freedom of traditional schools crush this curiosity by trying to control the learning process, leaving children resistant to learning as a whole.
We do not tell our students what they must learn, when they must learn, or how they must learn. They are allowed to follow their curiosities however far they choose to. We do not tell our students that to learn they must sit silently at a desk. They can learn while standing up, walking around, and engaging each other and staff in conversation. They can learn while taking a walk in the park, or while watching the occasional movie. The free interchange of ideas resulting from this is one of the most vital parts of our community.
In a traditional school, students are given a few “responsibilities” – they are responsible for doing their homework, studying for tests, showing up on time, and bringing the required materials to class. In essence, they are responsible only for doing that they are told to do.
We expect more than this from our students and in our experience, it is very rare that they do not rise to that challenge. By running the school democratically with staff through School Meeting and Judicial Committee, students are given the opportunity and responsibility to take charge of and have an impact on their own community. Students may also sign up for various roles within the school, such as managing the school store or being on any number of committees.
By giving students the freedom to explore in a safe, respectful environment, and the responsibility to maintain that environment, Mountain Laurel Sudbury School produces graduates who are unique among their age peers in their wisdom, breadth of knowledge, self-awareness and self-assuredness.