A Personal Reflection of Sudbury Valley School


Sudbury Valley School was established in 1968 at a time when freedom was gaining its course in the United States and people were being dissatisfied with the governments’ status quo. The following essay reflects on the concept of Sudbury school. Greenberg was among the founders of Sudbury valley school and talks about the experiences and encounters at Sudbury School in his books. The experiences he encountered while at Sudbury Valley school include the freedom and its role, the intangibles of Sudbury Valley school, the day of the eclipse, liberty, and justice for all, bells, and a personal story about learning.

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This paper presents a personal reflection of Sudbury, a summary of items capturing attention, and how and why it captures attention, and how it relates to educational issues.

Freedom in Sudbury Valley School

The main thing about Sudbury Valley was freedom. Those who began the school had this concept that human brains need to develop fully to solve the complicated problems that arise every day. Thus everybody was allowed to pursue his or her interests as a kid and do what suits them best in life. This in turn helps to improve the knowledge base as things become more sophisticated and complicated as life progresses. Once a child is given a chance to develop natural capacities, he or she can understand the world fully and can fit into a modern society that demands extraordinary creativity and adaptability. The students at Sudbury Valley were allowed to develop freely and there was no unnecessary hindrance as far as their knowledge and their creativity were concerned (Greenberg, 2000, pg.13).

Sudbury School is a very unique school in that the students as are responsible for their own life. They are offered incredible trust and freedom and this is aimed at making them become responsible citizens. The school continues to exist today because its founders firmly established a cohesive and sensible unit that applies well in modern life. The principles of Sudbury School have been guarded firmly for years. Sudbury school was compared with a village due to the way that the students are allowed to exercise freedom. One was allowed to do whatever feels like for instance playing guitar, playing football, moving around, studying books, playing chess, and dressing according to one’s preferences. This made Sudbury Valley school produce articulate adults who were intelligent and educated because one was allowed to specialize in those areas in which they are most talented. The founders of the school thus stepped back to allow nature to take its rightful course. They provided the students with a favorable environment to develop their talents. Both students and adults in Sudbury Valley School mix freely irrespective of their ages. The schools thus should allow students to learn through personal experience and choose what they aspire to become in the future while still young.

Sudbury valley school and the intangibles

The things that happen at Sudbury Valley School play a crucial role in a child’s healthy development as it helps to transform them into confident strong adults. For instance, Hanna Greenberg the wife of Daniel Greenberg recalls an incident when she was skiing downhill at the Wachusett Mountain accompanied by five other kids aged between seven years to nine years. The children decided to climb a hut instead of skiing and she sat there just watching them as they struggled to climb and falling severally to an extent of injuring themselves. The kids did not have the proper shoes to climb the hut rather they were on their ski boots which inconvenienced them because they are cumbersome and stiff. Eventually, the kids managed to climb up the hut and they were very happy as a result. The kids were also ready and eager to teach others how to go about climbing the hut Hanna then concluded that by trusting the kids to climb up a dangerous hut, the kids gained some skills which they could not have gained in a formal classroom. The formal classroom provides students with knowledge that may not be applicable in many aspects of their lives or after they graduate from school. In this example, however, the kids were determined and ambitious to succeed and this made them come up with different intelligent ideas on how to do it. They also tenderly helped each other. This implies that the Sudbury Valley School enables people to become sufficiently reliable unto them as people get to learn skills that they can apply in a real challenging life experience. The desire to excel in their endeavors enables Sudbury valley school graduates to become successful people in society and be regarded as role models as they possess different intangible skills that they imply to help their communities. As human beings, we usually learn through experiences so our skills are enhanced once we practice the same thing over and over again. This also promotes efficiency and specialization in that we can venture into those activities that we feel we are in a position to pursue well (Greenberg, 1999).

Day of the Eclipse

The piano students of Sudbury Valley School asked Greenberg if he could reschedule the class lesson for them to watch the solar eclipse which he agreed to do. As he was having a coffee break, he noticed that there were only a few students in the kitchen and that the porch was preoccupied with activities and so he went out to see what was happening there. He was quick to notice a large gathering of students and some were the Mylar films as they viewed the sun. He was thus impressed to observe the moon moving around a path. He couldn’t help him having another look at the sun and he felt that it was a great privilege to work in such a school where students were intelligent enough to learn about the earthly events practically. The students were also quick to warn their colleagues on the effects of watching the eclipse with their naked eyes and this showed that the students at Sudbury Valley School cared about each other. When Greenberg went to a teacher in a nearby town, he realized that the students there didn’t have the chance to view it as they were denied the opportunity to do so and hence concluding that Sudbury Valley School was indeed a great school (Greenberg,1999).

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With Liberty and Justice for All

The positive aspects of Sudbury School were without challenges. Conflicts were also a major issue as people shared resources, space, and time. The conflicts though rare included the conflict among students, conflict among students and staff, and also among the staff themselves. The best way is to learn how to overcome the problems between students.Greenberg admits that he too made some mistakes during his time at Sudbury school by saying or doing things that angered others. He says that he was somehow insensitive about others and continued to pursue his interests at the expense of others. The students demonstrated tolerance and kindness to him instead he changed from being self-centered to someone who realized the effects of his activities and thus made adjustments concerning his behaviors where necessary. The judicial committee at Sudbury Valley School was based on such principles as fairness, equality, empowerment, justice as well as compassion. Students thus adhered to these principles and regarded the judicial system as being fair. The checks and balances of the judicial committee ensured that one was charged with something that they were guilty of because the procedures were done publicly. The younger children felt that the school atmosphere was safe due to the existence of a judicial system that is open. This made them interact freely with their older colleagues and provided a platform for them to compete with others in games and other activities. Greenberg however respected the school by the fact that it never notified the guardians or parents in case of a suspension and so the students were left to deal handle their issues without the involvement of their parents (Greenberg, 2000)


There are no bells At Sudbury Valley School. Students always do what they deem as right at their own time. Greenberg recalls when he used to hear bell sounds from the neighborhood as he prepared to go and teach at Sudbury Valley and this made him understand the kind of freedom that Sudbury Valley enjoys. The bells from the adjacent school denote the absence of freedom as they demanded the students to reconsider if they are supposed to be doing what they are doing presently or not. The absence of bells at Sudbury Valley School poses a challenge to students as they are trained to be self-reliant and responsible. The younger kids didn’t experience any problems in adapting to the aspect of getting used to freedom. The freedom arising from the lack of bell in the controversial Sudbury Valley School implies that students worked hard to ensure that they accomplish their tasks in due time. The students were able to determine the right time to wake up, attend classes, eat, play, sleep et cetera(Sudbury Valley School,1994).

Summary of the most memorable experiences and their relation to educational issues

The most memorable item on the reflections on Sudbury that captured my attention is the issue to do with justice. This captured my attention because students were eager to know who committed an offense and the respective actions taken against them. They waited for an opportunity to attend the prosecutions of their colleagues and they could air out their voices freely. It allowed room for everyone to participate and that the procedures were done publicly. When one committed an offense, the whole school would determine the best course of action. The judicial committee comprised of every member of the school and so the students were much aware of the proper functioning of this system. This is, in turn, contrary to other schools where students don’t have information on what takes place in a judicial setup that determines their cases once they commit offenses. This type of judicial democracy enabled everyone to be heard as far as justice was concerned. The democratic procedures imply that people are given an equal and full hearing.

As far as educational issues are concerned, this helps in promoting democracy, openness, and fairness. Public hearings can also be used as a tool for instilling discipline among students. This is due to the fear of facing the entire school during disciplinary time. The younger kids were also not discriminated against the older ones when it came to justice. This made them learn the principles of justice at a tender age and hold them to use them to apply in their spheres of influence. Justice as a virtual was indirectly acquired by the students. The knowledge that the students gain as a result of the open justice system is essential as far as their careers are concerned. For those students who aspire to be lawyers, they get to learn important tips on how a case is determined and they enhance their skills as they grow old.

The students are also able to practice justice among themselves and this enhances a peaceful coexistence and so they can pursue their goals in life as they can trust each other because conflicts are handled more transparently. Openness and sharing of ideas is enhanced once the students treat each other fairly and so those students who experiences difficulties can get assistance from their colleagues

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Reference List

Greenberg, C. (1999).Reflections on the Sudbury School concept. Masachusetts: The Sudbury Valley School.pg.45

Greenberg, C, (2000). A Clearer View: New Insights Into the Sudbury School Model. Massachusetts: The Sudbury Valley School Pg.13-77

Sudbury Valley School. (1992).The Sudbury Valley School Experience. Massachusetts: The Sudbury Valley School

Sudbury Valley School. (1994).And Now for Something Completely Different: An Introduction to Sudbury Valley School. Masachusetts: The Sudbury School Press.

A Personal Reflection of Sudbury Valley School
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