Arts & Ideas Sudbury School is a democratic school for ages 5-18. Our core principles are trust, autonomy, justice, and learning through play.

Come visit us and learn more at our next open house!

Authentic Democracy

Several students in a committee meeting
The power to be responsible

Arts & Ideas believes that children are equally deserving of the respect and trust that adults experience in this country. When the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are extended to children, responsible choices arise from the sense of duty that that power naturally entails.

As such, students and staff make the rules and manage day to day activities together. Students and staff have equal democratic access to draft and amend rules, take part in supporting those rules, and share in the administration of conflict resolution and judicial processes. Placed in a community, children are as conscientious and compassionate with their entrusted authorities as we hope adults are.

Charged with the responsibility to make meaningful decisions for themselves and the wider community, children rise to the occasion.

Autonomy

Student in tree
Structure, not schedules

All growing children look for meaning and order; a child's demand to understand pushes the way ahead. In this way, they actively construct a rich understanding of the world. We believe students learn best at their own pace, unencumbered by compulsory lesson plans.

By choosing each step, students own what they know. They explore around them in just the needed fashion in order to make sense of what they are interested in. They master what they need. This is learning how to learn.

We recognize learning pursued in this manner may not always appear linear, sequential, or useful. By design, the methodology will be unique to the learner. We are convinced that this is the hallmark of a deep, personalized, authentic education and is the gold standard for our culture. We see how free choice leads to discipline and commitment, awakened from within, as a natural outcome of self determination and respect.

Age-Mixing

Older and younger in kitchen
Learning by teaching

Children, like adults, thrive in diverse, interesting, and challenging environments. One of the most important factors in creating this kind of environment at a Sudbury school is age-mixing. When younger and older students freely associate with one another, learning accelerates.

Younger students engage in, sometimes by simply observing, more complex activities. By being around older students, younger students are motivated to take on big challenges, often with the compassionate help of those older students. The younger students gain exposure to more advanced skills and knowledge while learning from a diverse set of role models. Students that are only a few years older represent ways of being that the younger students can readily play at being.

Older students also benefit deeply from being around younger students. They not only develop leadership, nurturance, and a sense of responsibility for others, but are also able to enjoy a lengthened childhood themselves by playing and engaging with younger kids without fear of judgement. Teenagers at Arts & Ideas are free to move back and forth between the joy of childhood and the responsibility of adulthood. By naturally teaching others, they solidify their own foundations even as they challenge themselves to learn the intricacies of adult skills.

Explore our website to discover what makes our school thrive and why our students and their families love an Arts & Ideas education.