Voices from the New American Schoolhouse
“explores life outside the usual educational box”:
Narrated exclusively by students, the film chronicles life and learning at the Fairhaven School in Upper Marlboro, MD which practices an undiluted form of freedom and democracy that turns mainstream education theory on its head. Filmmaker Danny Mydlack enjoyed unrestricted access over a two-year period to produce this candid and unblinking encounter with kid-powered learning.
Definitely watch the video. I half expect Billy Jack to protect these kids from close-minded townies. (“I’m gonna take this right foot, and I’m gonna whop you on that side of your face — and you wanna know something? There’s not a damn thing you’re gonna be able to do about it.”)
(Hat tip to Boing Boing.)
Here’s how the Fairhaven School describes itself:
Fairhaven students ages 5 through 19 and beyond are free to decide for themselves how to spend their days. Motivated by curiosity and the drive to become competent adults, they grow emotionally, creatively, and intellectually — through play, school governance, conversation, the arts, classes, computer activities, reading, and the exploration of nature. All kinds of learning, all types of intelligence are valued.
Fairhaven is a true democracy: a weekly School Meeting, made up of students and staff, votes on all aspects of the schools operation — from school rules to budgeting to staffing. Issues of justice are resolved by the Judicial Committee, on which everyone serves on a rotating basis. Students learn firsthand what it means to live in a working democracy, with the freedom and responsibility it entails.
Fairhaven School is modeled after the 35 year old Sudbury Valley School.
I also can’t help but think of the Enriched Learning Center for Gifted Children from Bart the Genius — the first official episode of The Simpsons. (“Discover your desks, people.”)