Assuming Excellence: The Key to the Sudbury Valley Experience

Daniel Greenberg


Prologue

            Ever since the school was first conceived, we have been searching for a way to express in clear and concise form its essential philosophy and practice. The search has been far-reaching, and has unearthed a wide range of concepts. Those I knew of were summarized in a paper I wrote several years ago entitled “The Tapestry of Themes that Makes Up a Sudbury Model School”1. The list was imposing, but the feeling that kept gnawing at me was that we had not yet come up with the key idea, the heart of the matter.

            Indeed, preoccupation with “the heart of the matter” led Mimsy and me to launch an extensive study of the school’s Judicial Committee, which we had identified for ourselves as being “the heart of the school”. Somehow, we had intuited that this particular institution revealed something central about Sudbury Valley with great clarity. The study has languished, not for lack of interest on our part, but for our inability to pin down the precise way the JC defined the heart and soul of the school.

            Of course, there do not necessarily have to be just one or two key concepts underlying the school. There could indeed be a “tapestry of themes”. Somehow, that did not seem a satisfactory conclusion to reach. I always felt that what pointed more than any other factor to the validity of the school’s philosophy and practice was their simplicity. This is generally true of every wide-ranging world view: complexity at the foundation masks obscurity in thought, whereas simplicity at the foundation reflects precision and clarity.

            But wherein does the essential simplicity of the Sudbury model lie?

            I believe I now understand, for the first time, the answer to this question. In finding it, I feel that I have also uncovered the essential simplicity of the larger social order in which the school is embedded. These “discoveries” qualify as such only within my own unique personal world view. The only way I feel I can make them comprehensible to you, the reader, is by telling you something about the personal journey that led me, finally, to the key I have been seeking for so long.

 

A personal life journey—The early stages

            The home in which I grew up had several interesting features that I was aware of as a child. My father had immigrated from the Ukraine at the age of three and was raised in a home always on the edge of poverty. His early years were spent in the Catskill Mountains in New York on a farm, where he worked as a stable boy and all-around farmhand until his family moved to a poor Jewish section of Brooklyn. Except for a prayer book and a Bible, there were no books in his home. By the time he had arrived in a big city junior high school, it was clear that he had a lot of catching up to do, and he never stood out academically. But he found himself enamored of debating, and good at it; he soon became the star of the debating team of Boys’ High School in Brooklyn, and later of the City College of New York debating team, so much so that when he spent his junior year at the University of Minnesota, he traveled all over mid-America with that school’s debating team. He had found his metier, found his love for public speaking, for articulating arguments and thoughts concisely and with precision. This skill, so pleasurable for him, was integral to his life work, as the rabbi of a congregation, as a teacher and administrator in a major institution of Jewish learning, and as an author of books for the lay public about the foundations of Judaism.

            It was so much a passion for him that it was also a skill that he wanted his children to possess. To that end, family dinners became miniature debating societies, aimed at honing the debating (and rational thinking) skills of my brother and me. This atmosphere prevailed from the time of my earliest family memories; no quarter was yielded by my father, no condescension to age, even at the earliest age. Poor arguments were demolished, or met with stiff resistance. I was thoroughly trained, but what I didn’t know at the time was that I was, at the same time, being introduced to a concept of which my family was completely unaware: the central role of passion in human life.

            My mother looked on quietly and approvingly at this daily activity—more aptly called a “daily verbal brawl”. It was not her thing. Her specialty was cooking, and a splendid cook she was. A chemistry major in college (at a time when few women went to college, and very few indeed majored in hard science), she had no outlet for her knowledge and skills after graduating and marrying. Working mothers were rare, and virtually non-existent in her circles. Cooking became her outlet. Having two boys could have been a disappointment, except that at a very early age she invited me to join her in the kitchen, included me in her adventures to the extent my age permitted, and demonstrated to me the tireless quest for excellence that a love of cooking can bring to the life of a person who possesses this passion. Here too I was being imbued with an idea of which I was unaware until now.

            From high school age on, thanks to my father’s position in the high-powered New York academic scene, I was exposed to a large number of extremely brilliant, well-known, high-functioning academicians from a variety of institutions of higher learning. Most of them were passionate about what they were doing, and were far from shy about exhibiting their superior talents, knowledge, and creativity. The skills I had developed at home as a child made analytic thinking and academic discourse based on rational study second nature to me. I must have seemed to them like someone with an academic future. They responded by including me at a tender age among their companions in discourse.

            But why did they so appeal to me? I was extremely interested in the ideas that informed their various passions, but none of them coincided with things about which I was passionate. Yet, I sought their company, spent as much time with them as I could, became an eager student of many of them, and collaborated with some of them in their work when invited to do so. What was the underlying attraction to these people, and theirs to me?

            These were questions that I did not ask myself at the time. My life unfolded, and as it did, I found myself asking other questions that eventually defined the direction of my life’s work.

 

A personal life journey—The later years

            My first experiences as a member of the academic community were focused on making a mark in the field of study I had chosen as my center of attention. I wanted to achieve something creative in that field, and gain recognition as a scholar and teacher. These were the goals that appeared to be common to all my colleagues in academia, and I saw no reason to deviate from them. It was as if my entire youth had been pointing in that direction.

            Things did not turn out as I had expected. I had been appointed to the Physics Department, because my field was theoretical physics, and I had shown some promise there. It did not take long for me to discover that I had no passion for the field, and (perhaps as a result of this) little if any ability to be creative in it. I could easily make my mark as a journeyman physicist—that depended only on generating publications, an easy task for anyone who has even minimal talent—but that was all. Soon I found myself drifting into a related field, the history of physics, which combined my interest in science with my lifelong interest in history, and in which I felt capable of innovation. And indeed the scholarly material I was producing was original enough to generate both criticism and praise from the “establishment”.

            But I quickly found out that my interest in that field was waning, and devolving, once again, into a journeyman’s interest; I would be able to crank out a lifetime of publications, but the joy of creation would be missing.

            My second academic goal was to be a good teacher. There too events conspired against me—or at least events as I interpreted them. In the beginning, I found that I was able to command interest and enthusiasm in my students for whatever I was teaching. I was entertaining, I was articulate, and I was well prepared. Early on, I found that despite the fact that my students were enjoying my classes, they weren’t absorbing the material I was trying to convey. Test results were exceptionally disappointing. Their interest had been fleeting.

            I struggled to find an explanation. Perhaps I hadn’t done a good enough job engaging them, or explaining matters to them. I kept trying new pedagogic devices, but though I became a better “teacher”, the rate of absorption by the students didn’t change. Nor was it affected by becoming tougher and more demanding. If anything, those techniques made matters worse.

            After five or so years of seeking a solution to my failure as a teacher, I came to a conclusion that was both shocking and life-changing: that a person can only focus their attention, learn, and hope to be good at what they are doing, if they are engaged in a pursuit for which they are passionate. And they will only be passionate about things that give meaning to their lives.

            And I realized that this was as true for me as for my students. There was no point in my trying to be a good teacher, since the end result I had sought, that my students would learn what I was teaching, was an unrealizable goal. People would learn in depth only what they are driven to learn by their search for meaning; and they will learn with an intensity and focus that can bring them to an ever higher level, so that their lives can continually gain in richness and meaning.

            This realization also enabled me to understand why I was so attracted to the few but varied scholars in whose company I found my greatest joy. They were not only brilliant and creative in their fields, they were passionate about what they were doing. Their work gave meaning to their lives; being in the presence of people who were crystal clear about their passions, who pursued them relentlessly (and often against severe odds), and who were really good at what they did, was exhilarating for me.

            Indeed, life seemed to me to be worth living, for everyone, only if it had meaning2. For me, that realization had deep personal implications. It meant that I had to look deeply into myself to find out what I was really passionate about on the one hand, and stop working in a field that tried to force people to put (mostly futile) effort into areas that did not have meaning for them.

            To my surprise, I discovered that my true passion was trying to ensure that all people have the best shot at discovering their passions, and at devoting themselves to pursuing those passions and becoming good at expressing them in their lives. It was only as I grew older that I realized that this had been a goal towards which my whole life, from earliest memory, had been aimed at achieving.

            The task then became to create an environment within which this could happen. This was especially important, as I saw it, for children starting out on their journey to adulthood. It was during those formative years that they had the best opportunity to find out their true nature, before the forces of the society in which they were embedded would overwhelm their individuality. By figuring out how to create such an environment, by finding a way to make a place where children could search for meaning in their lives, I would be fulfilling my own search for meaning.

 

Struggling to define and understand the concretization of the Sudbury Valley dream

            Inventing Sudbury Valley was not a linear process, nor has the process of invention ever halted. As with any learning experience focused on a goal, it can plumb depths with no end. Here I want to review some of the main components of our journey toward realizing our goal.

            Our journey”—no longer mine alone. What I have been writing about until this point has been the story of my own search for meaning in my life. From the time I met Hanna, I shared with her the nature and content of this search, as she shared hers with me. For reasons related to her own private journey in life, she came to find meaning in the same purpose which I ended up embracing. The work to set up a school was, from the outset, a joint venture.

            Shortly after we realized what we were setting out to do, we found a few other people who thought this venture would give their lives meaning as well. It turned out that all the members of this early core group of founders (other than Hanna and me) discovered that their true passions lay elsewhere, and departed either before the school opened or shortly thereafter; but as long as they participated in formulating the practical goals of the venture, they contributed significantly to their definition. In the year preceding the opening of the school, as word of the project got out to a wider public, many more people got involved, and from them a founding group was filtered out, all of whom contributed for varying lengths of time, four of whom remain involved to this day.

            The starting point for defining the model we were seeking was the abolition of compulsory classes, as might be expected from what I have written above. It was clear that the students would have to be completely free to design their own education—or, more accurately, if I was to represent our thinking at the time, to design their own curriculum. In the back of our minds, we took for granted the assumption underlying traditional education, that it was the function of the school to transmit to the next generation the essence of the culture in which the school was embedded; and that the essence was comprised of the subject matter that centuries of academic research and writing had delineated as the domain of culturally significant knowledge—the “fields” that were represented in universities and other centers of learning. So for us, the idea at the start was to lay out, smorgasbord fashion, as many courses of study as we could gather, and to allow students from the earliest age to choose as they pleased from among them. The freedom of choice, we thought, would enable the students to own their education, and thus to willingly absorb the material that we felt was important for them to know, in whole or in part.

            Granting the students that degree of freedom of choice meant that we were eliminating a key hierarchical feature of traditional schooling: the authoritarian position of teachers and administrators. For the purposes of the school’s primary goal, that of preparing the next generation of society for adult life, adults and children were equals in mapping out the path towards the goal. We realized that this had to be reflected in the school’s structure as well, since perpetuating the authoritarian structure of traditional schools as far as their governance is concerned would directly conflict with the equality that was reflected in the learning process that the school promoted. This meant that students had to have a significant voice in the school’s governance.

            We struggled with this question, and opened the school with a structure that included students in all decisions that had to do with the internal functioning of the school—that is, with the way student activities other than learning activities were carried out. This seemed to make sense; students had the freedom to choose their course of study, so they should have the freedom to decide how their behavior overall at school would be governed.

            On the other hand, there were aspects of the school’s governance which we thought at the time were not appropriate concerns for the students. Most particularly, these involved all fiscal decisions, as well as the choice of teachers for the school. We felt that both of these areas required a degree of life experience and understanding of human character and abilities (the kind that was assumed in company “human resources” divisions) that children could not possibly have, and therefore could not bring to bear on the decisions relevant to these areas. Such powers were given over to various bodies consisting of adults associated with the school (the Assembly, the Trustees, and the staff—the group of teachers).

            Partial democracy, freedom of choice in controlling one’s education—these were the powers accorded to the students in the first iteration of Sudbury Valley School when it opened in the summer of 1968.

 

What we learned during the first four decades of the school’s existence

            We opened in July 1968, the idea being that we would give the school a test run during a summer session, and then make whatever adjustments we found necessary before opening for the regular school year. It was a good move.

            It did not take long to find out that the smorgasbord idea was DOA. A host of academicians from local universities and teachers from schools all over the region offered their volunteer services to teach a wide range of courses. They posted notices of their subjects, times and places of instruction, and then waited for the eager students to show up. It was the ‘60s: there was no shortage of people excited by this new idea, which fit so well into the “free school” fad that was spreading across the country. It didn’t hurt that Sudbury Valley also seemed to resemble Summerhill, a school that had become widely known thanks to the publication of the book, Summerhill, by the school’s founder and owner, A.S. Neill. There were about 130 students enrolled for the summer, and for the first week or so, quite a few showed up at each of the announced classes.

            But as the summer wore on, it quickly became clear that the interest in classes was short-lived. The students interpreted the idea that they were free to design their own education to mean that they were free to do as they pleased with their time. Many of the volunteer teachers felt humiliated by the lack of interest of the kids—after all, these teachers were all experts in their fields, and had so much to offer!—and they blamed us for not urging or inspiring the students to attend their classes. By the end of the summer, the shine had worn off, and the school became anathema to the world of traditional education. We, on the other hand, got the point immediately: we realized that the notion we had, that the only education worthy of the name involved study of the fields delineated by centuries of academicians, was as obsolete as the traditional educational setting that we had turned our backs on. The smorgasbord practice, of suggesting that certain pursuits have precedence, was over. We would have to completely revise our concept of “education”, and the only way we could figure out a replacement for the old concept was to take the lead from the students, to each of whom we had given the responsibility for it.

            Over the next year or two, we came to see that “education” was a process of preparing oneself for life; that it was a lifelong activity, by its very nature; that every person sought it eagerly from birth; and that, since it was something left entirely to the individual to design in the years before and after formal schooling—that is, for most of a person’s life—there was no reason to hamper the freedom of students to design their days as they saw fit.

            We came to understand also that we must trust the judgment of each student to an extent that was unheard of in the relationship between adults and children that prevailed outside our school. That larger degree of trust spilled over into the realm of school governance as well. When we examined more closely the reasons we had excluded students from certain areas of decision-making, we found them to be hollow. Who could be more motivated than the students to assure the continued success and viability of this wonderful new school, that granted them freedoms and rights as no other school did? They had far more at stake than the adults who were peripheral to the school—trustees and parents—and at least as much at stake as the teaching staff (the “staff”) who comprised the other sector of the school community. When we had fully absorbed the implications of this realization, we redesigned the school, and handed over the entire management of the school to the school’s resident community (the School Meeting), except for certain residual powers left in the hands of the other bodies. Those residual powers were basically never exercised over the first four decades of the school’s existence, and existed only in name; the decisions and proposals of the School Meeting in all domains became the de-facto final decisions in those areas. The formal transfer of all powers to the School Meeting took place in the Spring of 2009, but by then it was a simple matter to put into the By-laws what had been in practice for so long.

            So the school became a fully functional democratic institution where students possessed the same basic rights as adults in the school, and as adults in the wider world: freedom of action limited only by boundaries set up with the consent of the community. The success of the school, as reflected in the lives of the students, spoke eloquently to the question of the validity of this radical model. And it turned out that the school had a profound influence on the lives of students.3

 

Nagging problems, and how they led to the essential core of the school

            But why does it work?

            Indeed, why does the particular form of democracy that this country has developed work, despite all its flaws?

            And it works in a spectacular fashion: it works with a motley population from all backgrounds—in the country, and in the school. It works with a level of violence between races, nationalities, religious and ethnic groups lower than any experienced in any country in history4, or in any school since the establishment of formal educational institutions for the young.

            Let’s start with the question as it applies to the school. Children are trusted to prepare themselves for adult life. This, despite the fact that they do not know or understand what adult life is all about; they’re children, after all, pre-adults. They can’t comprehend what it is like to be in a situation that they have never experienced. So how can they be trusted to prepare themselves for it?

            Nor do most of them know much, if anything, about running an institution, about seeing to its financial stability, about hiring help that is up to the tasks for which they are hired, about taking adequate care of the physical plant—about any of the varied aspects of the job of keeping the place going. So how can they be trusted to participate as equals in the decisions about these issues?

            We tried so many answers to these nagging questions. We said that if you give people real responsibilities, they will behave responsibly. But that libertarian view of society clearly does not hold water; if it did, there would be no need for collective governance at all. The only rule needed would be, “Behave responsibly”, which would be no rule at all, just a statement of expectation that results from the grant of unlimited individual responsibility. There would be no need for judicial inquiries or sanctions—no behavior that required it.

            We said lots of other similar things: trust people, and they will be trustworthy. But this did not eliminate stealing, or surreptitious breaking of rules. We hoped they would be trustworthy, but the community made provisions for dealing with situations where some people turned out not to be. We studied the many ways people go about being educated—through conversation, through play, through indulging their curiosity—but we had no way of assuring anyone that these ways would necessarily lead children to finding the path to a successful adult life. We said that, as a simple matter of evolutionary necessity, every living being must be born with the innate drive to become effective adults, and that this drive must guide them towards the education necessary to fulfill that goal. But not all the young in the animal world succeed in fulfilling the goal of survival to adulthood, perhaps because the adults in their environment do not have the means to give them instruction on the methods best suited to reach it. Human beings, on the other hand, are capable of actively teaching their young and directing their lives. Why assume that every young human would succeed without active adult intervention—unless we didn’t care that many would fall by the wayside, as they do in the animal kingdom. But we did care. So why did the school excel as a place for children to mature into productive adults?

            If we turn to the community at large, the same questions apply, in the larger setting. How does it make sense to give the vote to everyone, when most people don’t have the necessary background to understand the great issues involved in national survival? How does it make sense to rely on leaders elected by an uninformed population? The ancient Greek philosophers had long since demonstrated to their satisfaction that it doesn’t make sense at all—that the only thing that makes sense is government by “philosopher kings”. The only problem is, as Winston Churchill so aptly pointed out, that despite the seemingly evident truth that democracy is a terrible form of government, history has shown that all the other forms are worse!

            Why?

            It was necessary to find an answer to this question if we were to grasp the essential core of the school, and of our country, and the fundamental reason for their continuing survival and success. It turns out that this core is alluded to in the founding document of the United States, its Declaration of Independence. We cannot know whether the Founders fully understood the implications of that document, but we can only marvel at their wisdom in pinpointing the key factors that underpin a successful community.

 

The key to the Sudbury Valley experience

            One of the most influential declarations in all of human history is the following statement:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

 

            What does this mean? How can “these truths” be “self-evident” if no one had ever before declared them to be “truths”, let alone “self-evident”? What is this statement trying to tell us?

            To be sure, the Bible tells us that all human beings descended from two original persons, and in that sense—so long as one takes the Bible to reflect “self-evident truths”—all men are clearly created equal, being derived from common ancestors. But let’s focus on the part that talks about unalienable rights endowed by the Creator of the human race—by “God”, a term the Founders tried to avoid in their desire to be non-denominational. A “right” is defined as an inherent claim. Nowhere in religious literature is it recorded, or even hinted at, that a deity endowed all humans with inherent claims to these listed “rights”. So the Founders couldn’t possibly have been using the term “right” in that sense, since anyone reading the Declaration would have instantly spotted such a statement to be patently false.

            There is another meaning to “right”, derived from its use as an adjective: “in conformity with fact”. Taken in that light, the statement cited above turns out to be a characterization of human nature, from the moment the human race was created. The Founders are saying: “We hold it to be something in conformity with fact that all men are created with the inherent needs for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—where by ‘an inherent need’ we mean something essential to the maintenance of every human being’s existence.”

            It is in the third listed “right”—i.e., fact of human nature—that the Founders had their most profound and original insight. Recall that “the pursuit of happiness” meant, in the language of the day, “the pursuit of a meaningful life”. They were saying that a person could not survive unless he pursued an answer to the question, “Why am I here? What is the point to my life?” Take away that ability to ask and provide some answer to the posed question, and life loses its purpose, and is no longer worth living; not being able to form some adequate meaning for one’s life leads one to the abyss of total despair. An examination of the human condition shows this statement to be true, surprisingly so. It turns out that even people in the most extreme conditions—in a state of servitude, even in concentration or death camps—seek some avenue towards meaning in order to survive.

            If we accept as fact that every person needs a purpose in order to live, and that fulfillment of this need is as essential as the better known physical needs for survival, then we gain a perspective on the human condition that is surprisingly rarely discussed. Consider this: every person, from the moment s/he is self-aware enough to ask “Why do I exist?”, strives for the rest of his/her life to find a purpose in life and to fulfill that purpose as well and as fully as possible.

            Every person strives for the highest level of excellence in those activities that further his/her purpose for existence. This applies to everyone, throughout their lives. It applies to the saint, to the genius, to the “common man”—and to the child who is to become any of these. It applies to the “asocial” person as well; even criminals aspire to excel in their craft.

            The areas in which people find meaning and strive for excellence are as varied as people themselves are. By recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we acknowledge their striving towards excellence in whatever areas they choose to find meaning in their lives, no matter how strange or esoteric they may seem to us.

            Furthermore, if we want to exist in an environment in which our own striving towards excellence in the pursuit of our goals is tolerated and validated, then we must live in a society in which all other members are committed to such toleration and validation. This too is self-evident, which is why the Founders added the second sentence defining the nature of social organization—the nature of government—which is necessary for the achievement of such a social order. The consent of the governed is essential; those who do not consent to such a social order of tolerance are destructive to the survival of its members, and must either leave of their own accord or be forcibly quarantined by that society.

            History is replete with examples of societies in which only a small subgroup is considered to be capable of excellence, and thus to qualify as “an elite”. In fact, most societies throughout history fit that description. The founding of this country was a majestic act of creation of a new conception of social order. It basically decreed that all members of this society are an elite—that the social order should assume that the pursuit of meaning, and the desire for individual excellence in the course of that pursuit, is a universal trait of all human beings, and that people wishing to have their unique and individual pursuits of meaning and excellence tolerated and respected by others must live in a social order committed to this universal goal.

            This is the key to the particular flavor of democracy that constitutes the American experience. It explains the extraordinary flourishing of human creativity that has characterized American society, and given it a dominant role in defining a global culture aspired to by most of the human race. A society in which individual excellence is assumed is a society in which all members have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams, to achieve their individual life goals.

            This too is the key to the Sudbury Valley experience. The school embodies the belief that informs the social order in which it is embedded. Every member of our community assumes that every other member is capable of excellence, and that the particular and unique way in which every member pursues excellence is worthy of toleration and validation.

            This is why students constantly comment on how “smart” all of their fellow students are. They are responding to the fact that everyone in the school community is passionate about what they were doing. The activities they engage in on a day to day basis gives meaning to their lives, and being in the presence of others who pursue their passions eagerly is exhilarating for them.

            This also explains the sense in which the Judicial Committee can be considered to be “the heart of the school”. Every member of the school community is passionate about existing in an environment in which they are always treated fairly. The Judicial Committee is the forum in which, day by day, the community pursues that passion, and shows its confidence in any subgroup of its members, however chosen, to treat their peers fairly at a consistently high level of excellence.

 

In conclusion

            We now have the answer to the question posed earlier: why does it work? Simply because the mutual respect and toleration underlying the community makes it possible for each individual to weigh the opinions of others without prejudgment when participating in making a decision; to recuse him/herself voluntarily from participating in decision-making when the particular path they have chosen in life does not provide guideposts for such participation; and to trust the judgment of others whose areas of excellence shed light on the decisions to be made. In a community the size of Sudbury Valley, this process can readily be seen on a daily basis. While more difficult to discern in the broader culture, a closer look reveals that the same process underlies the complex network of politically active groups in the society. They constitute the mechanism through which people who feel qualified to contribute to a decision participate in making it.

            Some time ago, in a seminal article entitled “Showing the World Who We Really Are”5, the author observed that the key to Sudbury Valley is that it is a school that “trains people to think like members of the top elite.” In a country where everyone is assumed to be a member of the elite, a school based on the same principles as the society in which it resides is the ideal environment for children to meld seamlessly into the adult world when they feel ready to do so.

 

 

 

 

1. Sudbury Valley School Journal, Vol. 32, #1 (October 2002), pp. 6-16.

 

2. The first recorded articulation of this idea can be found in Plato’s Apology (38a), where Socrates is recorded as saying “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Psychotherapist Robert Gerzon comments in his blog, “[Socrates] does not mince words. He doesn’t say the unexamined life is ‘less meaningful than it could be’ or ‘one of the many possible responses to human existence.’ He simply and clearly says it’s not even worth living.” (www.gerzon.com/resources/unexam_life.html)


3. Over the years, beginning in 1972, the school has conducted several studies of the lives of former students. The results of these studies have been consistent. See Daniel Greenberg and Mimsy Sadofsky. Legacy of Trust: Life After the Sudbury Valley School Experience (The Sudbury Valley School Press: Framingham, MA; 1992) (the appendix to this book contains the results of the three prior studies of alumni), and Daniel Greenberg, Mimsy Sadofsky and Jason Lempka, The Pursuit of Happiness: The Lives of Sudbury Valley Alumni (The Sudbury Valley School Press: Framingham, MA; 2005).


4.The Civil War excluded—and that had peculiar origins that dated back to an incomplete job of founding the country in the first place.


5.Michael Greenberg, The View from Inside: Sudbury Valley from the Perspective of Michael Greenberg” (Sudbury Valley School Press: Framingham, MA, 2004), p. 74. He goes on to say, “I’m talking way past the notion of money or power. I am talking about being a person who feels that the systems of our society fundamentally support his goals, actions and desires.” Earlier in the article, he lists as one of the “expected outcomes” of a Sudbury education the trait of “wanting life to be fulfilling/meaningful/fun.”





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