I recieved this from my FNB email group, so I posted the whole thing, as their is no url to refer to
Schools Run by Kids
Imagine a school that is run by students and staff together, where
students decide what they are going to study and how they are going to
spend their time, where there are no grades, no tests, and no homework.
Imagine walking into a school and some students are on the couch
chatting, one is off in the corner reading a book, another is painting,
another having a philosophical discussion with a staff member, some are
outside running after each other in a game of tag, another is looking up
information on World War II on the internet, and another is learning
Spanish from a staff member.
Such schools exist. They are called free schools or democratic schools.
There are two free schools starting up in New Jersey. One is the Teddy
McArdle Free School in Essex County and the other is a free school in
Sussex County (name to be determined). Free schools value democratic
learner-led education and the self-determination of the student. In
this model, students follow their own inspiration. They design their
own curriculum and staff is there to support them in following their own
path. Each student gets individualized attention. Because the
curriculum is learner-led, all learning styles are honored. Staff and
students run the school together. Decisions are made at the School
Meeting. There are no grades. There are no grade levels . . . just
pure living and learning. Curiosity drives learning, so learning
happens at a much faster rate than when a student feels forced.
Democratic education promotes:
Students learn cooperation and empathetic communication through the
democratic process of School Meeting and through the conflict resolution
processes. Through this process students learn to organize their own
thoughts and express themselves more clearly.
Because the staff is there to support the students and not enforce a
curriculum, the students are much more receptive to their support. You
are much more likely to find friendships among the staff and students
than in compulsory education. Staff members can propose projects and
classes, but the students can decide if they wish to participate.
Students propose projects and classes as well.
At free schools, students are engaged in their studies, even with the
subjects of Math, History, Science, and English, and sometimes they
don’t even realize they’re learning. One philosophy of learner-led
education is "life is learning". It is impossible for a student not to
be learning. Children, like adults, intrinsically want to learn.
Students take on subjects like Math, Science, History and Reading out of
natural curiosity and the knowledge that they are essential to living in
At the Sussex and Essex County free schools, students are engaged with
the local community around them. They might not be at the school
building all day. They might be off apprenticing at a local business,
learning a profession they are interested in. Field trips are much more
frequent than at a public school. Students learn from the world around
The democratic school model has been around for over a hundred years,
and the learner-led model has been around since the beginning of time.
Some of the most famous democratic schools existing today are Summerhill
School in the UK, The Free School in Albany, and the Sudbury Valley
School in Massachusetts.
Both the Teddy McArdle Free School and the free school in Sussex County
will be meeting this December 16th.
Join the Sussex County free school for a presentation at 1pm followed by
a meeting from 2pm to 4pm, at the Gristmill Café in Andover (4 Lenape
Road; Andover, NJ 07821). At the meeting, there will be a discussion of
whether the school will be opening this Winter or first as a Summer Camp
program. They are looking for anyone who might be interested in
becoming a co-organizer, a staff member, a student, or anyone who might
have a child that would like to attend. For more information, contact
Abe Karl-Gruswitz at 973-786-5396 or firstname.lastname@example.org
. Join their
listserve at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NJFreeSchool
Join the Teddy McArdle Free School for a planning meeting from 11am to
1pm, at the Caldwell Public Library Conference Room (268 Bloomfield
Avenue, Caldwell, NJ). At the meeting, there will be an introduction to
the free school philosophy for newcomers and a discussion on how
individuals can get involved in the school, which intends to open in the
fall of 2007. Parents, children, educators, and anyone else with an
interest in learning more is welcome to attend For more information or
to RSVP please contact Alex Khost, email@example.com
or 201-709-1470 or
visit the school website at: http://www.tmcafs.org
. Directions to the
meeting are available at http://www.caldwellpl.org/driving.htm