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Free at Last: The Sudbury Valley School

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  185 ratings  ·  35 reviews
The best-selling description of the school is bursting with the excitement of life at Sudbury Valley. Free at Last is also chock-full of stories that illustrate the many unique features of this highly original model.

“Age mixing is Sudbury Valley’s secret weapon. I never could make heads or tails of age segregation. People don’t live their lives in the real world separated
Paperback, 184 pages
Published June 1st 1995 by Sudbury Valley School Press (first published 1987)
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4.37  · 
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 ·  185 ratings  ·  35 reviews

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Jan 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
I think I would have blossomed in this school. No PE unless I wanted it would have taken so much stress off of me. I like this concept of schooling and definitely would have looked into it for our daughter if it had been available. I'd like to read a newer book on how the schools are doing, this book was written in 1987.
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Books that challenge current beliefs of "how humans learn" are a bit of a hobby of mine. This is probably due to the fact that while I did very well in public school in every measure there is, it irritated me to be there the entire time I was enrolled and I couldn't wait to get out. I was very good at the system but never felt the system was helpful to me.

This book is about a very different kind of school. A quote from the introduction, "Some learn best from teachers or other students, others l
Jun 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I read this book when I was in junior high and am excited to see how my perspective has changed now that I'm the mom with kids in school, rather than the student myself. It's not saying too much to say that it has changed my life. Life and learning cannot be separated.
Oct 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely Loved this book! Encouraging and inspiring!!! I would love to start something like this in Canada
Tori Stuckey
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating. Read it in one day (partly by necessity as I have to return it to the library in two days and I can’t renew it). Free children are such a foreign concept to the world. So few of us experienced it in our own childhoods and so many are living out their childhood power struggles with their own children. I believe in free children. The practical implementation and shedding of my own misconceptions is taking time and error, but I’m working on it. Books like these help me to see that I’m ...more
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Story of the inner workings of an amazing, un-orthodox school, started by parents concerned about a broken education system.Gives a lot to think about!

I am reminded of Taleb's aphorisms on the Bed of Procrustes: Instead of fitting schools to the needs of children, we (in the modern schools) are trying to make our children fit to a pre-defined 'system' of learning and evaluation. It was never gonna work.
Sarah Estes
Nov 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: real-life
Compelling. I think I would trust it more if it was written by someone who wasn't so invested in the success of the school. Still, it was an interesting read.
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sounds like an amazing way to spend a childhood - educational in a more human way.
Emma Swales
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is merely an insight into how the Sudbury school runs. It is insightful and interesting to anyone interested in Democratic Schools and Self Directed Learning.
Peppermint Patty
Sep 29, 2016 rated it liked it
The bad grammar used in this book makes me doubt the effectiveness of their educational method.
Sep 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
democratic principles put into democratic practice, with full respect for children and adults alike. This book is a dream to read, emphasizing the best of the experience and alluding to some of the difficulties--which I can only imagine were heated and heartbreaking, as principled arguments about living often are. The Sudbury school share elements of pedagogical philosophy with Waldorf Schools and Montesori schools, but puts them in contemporary American terms, and leaves behind many of the vexi ...more
Sep 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic! This book exploded my whole notion of teaching. Imagine a school where the students purposefully take charge of their own learning, the care and upkeep of the school facilities and equipment, vote on how the school should function right along with the teachers in pure townhall-democratic fashion, mix with other students of all ages in the learning process, and help each other.

The teachers are strictly facilitators for the student's own desire to learn; therefore, the teacher doesn't h
Sophia Ciocca
Oct 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book fully convinced me that progressive education is the best kind, successfully teaching all of the things I believe education should teach -- creativity, self-discovery, critical thinking, growth mindset, and the ability and confidence that one can learn anything he/she needs to when the need arises. The book was written rather simplistically, which was charming, though I wonder how much Daniel Greenberg left out, as it often struck me as a bit too perfectly functional.
Nov 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
I would give this book 4 and a half stars if I could. It was very interesting. I talked about it to my partner and it sparked quite a debate between us. I love when we can engage in conversations like that! It was a unique read, and I actually was able to meet two young students who attend a modern democratic school and I was so intrigued by their experience.

I highly recommend reading this book if you're interested in education!
Mar 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Interested in learning acquisition, education
"In [Sudbury Valley School], you're supposed to do what you like; in the others, you're supposed to like what you do" (Greenberg 101).

This collection of anecdotes and reflections by founding member Daniel Greenberg shows another way to school children. The point isn't about attaining some great philosophy, key to happiness, or learning some set of skills, key to participation in society; the point is to find for yourself, what you will.
Apr 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people into alternative education
This book changed my life. It got me into Sudbury schooling and made me realize that there is no one right way of educating a person. It shows how flawed our traditional, testing-based school system is, and offers an alternative way of letting human beings pursue their passions. Read this book and be inspired.
Jessica White
Jan 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is an excellent inside look at the Sudbury Model from the beginning. It is a bit dated so some things aren't quite as applicable today as in the 70's-80's. However, it does impress upon the reader the value of the educational model. It is a super easy read that I pass on to all my friends interested in the democratic model. A great introductory view.
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Through storytelling (rather than theories of pedagogy), this book provides a remarkable example of what a school can be. After reading this book, I find myself a good deal more confident that a school can provide a setting that helps students discover their own intelligence, develop the ability to find their passions, and never lose the enjoyment of learning.
May 19, 2013 added it
I wonder how I would have done at this school. Routine sometimes provides a comfort? I agree that readers held mostly dull stories. It is a great read and makes me wonder how my friends and family would be different.
Apr 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
I loved what they did at this school. However if I am to believe what I read and also what I didn't read, I guess that they didn't teach these kid a thing about sex. This book led me to their website which lead me to other democratic schools including some in my own state.
Matthew Showman
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-books
A wonderful narrative, with chapters reading almost like vignettes. Anecdotal as it may be, the anecdotes powerfully demonstrate the power of play in education and the need for freedom in our children's development.
Steve Krouse
Jan 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
So amazing! It feels like I was reading myself 20 years from now. It addresses every question that anyone could have about this model with an amazing story. I am so convinced this model is the future!
Aruna Kumar Gadepalli
This book is written by the founder member of the The Sudbury Valley School. This gives the details of the school, its philosophy and various other aspects of the school. For those who believe in the children's freedom to learn, will definitley like this book.
Lisa  Keegan
Apr 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Read for a friend as she hopes to open a school here. Quite an interesting theory
Mar 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Someday I will start a school like this one.
Kyle Callahan
Dec 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I devoured the book in two hours. I just couldn't put it down.
Mar 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
What an inspiration . . . ah, I wish!
Sep 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The is one of my favorite books on the power of the natural curiosity of children combined with good teachers. It is non-fiction and a must-read for anyone with children or going into education.
Prashant Mudgal
Dec 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
one of the best books on education institutions I have read. Really free at last !!
Oct 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Very inspiring! What an amazing way for children to learn.
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Daniel A. Greenberg (born c. 1934), one of the founders of the Sudbury Valley School, has published several books on the Sudbury model of school organization, and has been described by Sudbury Valley School trustee Peter Gray as the "principal philosopher" among its founders. He is a former physics professor at Columbia University, and is described by Lois Holzman as the school's "chief 'philosoph ...more