Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning

by North West Democratic School
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Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning
Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning
Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning
Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning
Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning
Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning
Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning
Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning
Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning
Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning
Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning
Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning
Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning
Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning
Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning
Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning
Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning
Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning
Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning
Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning
Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning
Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning
Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning
Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning
Reboot Education with Self Directed Learning

Being a self-directed learner and having the freedom to explore means that students can dedicate themselves to projects that are relevant to them, developing persistance, and learning through real life experience. Summer is a creative entrepreneur who wanted to combine her interests and have some fun in the process. Ethan is a musician, composer and performer who wanted to customise his bass guitar. Here are their accounts of their most recent projects. 

  • I put in a proposal for a School market day so the Students could come together and create their own produce and have chance to sell it and feel what it was like to have a stall and interact with other people whilst selling their goods.  Summer

 

  • I stripped all the parts off and sanded it to bare wood. Then I sprayed it with primer and sanded it again. Holes and cracks in the wood grain were filled before spraying it again with primer, and giving it a final coat of paint. The final piece was to solder back the electronics and restring it.  I feel amazing. It was a lot of work and I made loads of mistakes, but I learned a lot and it was worth it. I pretty much got a new guitar.  Ethan

 

Thank you for your continued generous support. You are helping to make democratic self-directed education available to more and more children, and inspiring others to trust in self-directed learning. The movement is growing. The 3rd Democratic Education Ireland Annual Conference was held in November this year. Trustees, founders, staff and students from all of the Irish Democratic Schools, and members from start-up groups from all around the country attended to share their experiences and strengthen the voice of democratic, self-directed learning in Ireland. 

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The freedom, time, and space to find your own voice allows children to grow in confidence and develop skills at a suprisingly fast rate. When the passion for a new interest is kindled and nurtured without arbitrary competing demands amazing things can happen. 

This group of young teenagers, some of whom had very limited prior musical experience, formed a band earlier this year. Their commitment and hard work, with their natural talent and passion has produced some thrilling performances and inspired us all. The band members are now writing their own music and lyrics, and are planning to produce their first album next year. 

Wherever these young people take their talents next, what they have learned this year will stay with them their whole lives and support any endeavour they get involved in. Commitment, collaboration, creativity, discipline, organisation, performance, logistics, stage management, and of course musical skills are only a few of the skills they have practiced this past year.  They are forging a path of self-directed learning that is unique to each of them, bringing out the best in each of them. 

All of this is possible beacuse of the freedom and support provided by self-directed education. Thanks to supporters like yourself we are able to continue our work supporting young people in choosing their path and bringing out the best in themselves to contribute to society in a meaningful way. 

Thank you for your ongoing support. 

Photo credit: Brian Farrell

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Site Model
Site Model

Hello again!

This year has been a real whirlwind. The children and the school are growing so fast we are kept firmly on our toes at all times. 

We have grown to 70 students this year, and with projected enrolments for September 2022 bringing us to 90 students we are nearing capacity on our current site. As our numbers grow, so too does the need for more space and facilities.  We are very fortunate to have been able to acquire 2 parcels of land adjoining our school site and are making plans to develop a pioneering institute of self directed learning, a centre of excellence where parents, educators, researchers, and policy makers can gain experience and knowledge of this model of education. The initial phase of development will involve the restoration of the existing cottage on one of the sites and planting of native trees to revitalise the land. Secondary phases will involve extending existing buildings while protecting the surrounding natural environment. 

Plans for development of the site are progressing well.  Students from TUD School of Architecture visited us in early March to carry out focus groups with Sligo Sudbury School students as part of their Research and Design Unit on Architecture and Democracy, ensuring all of our members have the opportunity to be involved in the design process.  During a second visit a number of different approaches to the project were presented based on the input from our staff and students. We especially enjoyed the interactive 3D model of the site, showcasing the possibilities and exploring alternatives. 

Being able to work on real world projects in real time is one of the valuable opportunities afforded by self-directed education in a democratic school setting. From smaller projects such as designing and building a Go-Kart to much larger projects such as the expansion of our school, students have the opportunity to get involved and learn directly from experts in the field should they choose to. Everything is possible. 

We have succeeded and developed from our humble beginnings four years ago to this point thanks to the passion, generosity and diligence of all those involved. Your support is invaluable in the realisation of our goal, to make self-directed education an option for all children. 

Thank you.

Go Kart
Go Kart
Butterfly
Butterfly
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Hello from Sligo Sudbury School!

One of the features that makes self-directed education so appealing to young people is that they have the freedom to enjoy their learning anywhere, within or outside of the school grounds and buildings. Lorcan Southcombe is one of the students who enjoys this freedom at Sligo Sudbury School. He is U16 national Irish surf champion and is very passionate about his sport, taking every opportunity to practice and hone his skill. Staff and students alike are inspired by his self determination, his discipline and dedication, and his success. See him in action @lorcansouthcombe 

When not surfing, Lorcan is an avid drummer and all round musician. His sense of purpose and his commitment to his goals are fully supported by the democratic self-directed model of education.

We continue striving to provide a stable, stimulating, and self-governing environment where all children can grow and learn. Enrolments have grown and are now a community of 71 students and 10 staff members, with 3 new staff joining us in September 2021 and another in January 2022. We have reached the point where we are starting to think about how best to develop our site and school buildings so that we can continue to accept enrolments in the coming years. An additional parcel of land adjacent to our school site has been purchased and discussions with the school community are in progress to develop our vision together. We will keep you posted on our progress. 

The students are embracing the responsibilities and the joys of self-governance. Initiatives over the past few months have included 

  • Taking part in a "Sleep Out" raising over $2,000 to support the work of local homeless charity NorthWest Simon Community
  • Creating a Pop up Cafe serving a monthly "banquet on a budget". Food is vegetarian and inspired by culinary traditions from around the world. 
  • Building a tree house and a go-cart using wood and recycled materials
  • Performing a Toy Theatre production in the style of Victorian paper theatre 
  • Participating in the Primary Schools Science Fair at IT Sligo
  • Mastering Olympic Handball - we have a newly formed team
  • and much much more

Thank you for helping us to make Democratic, Self-Directed Education a reality that we can all aspire to. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

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We have just begun our 4th year at Sligo Sudbury School with 60 wonderful students. The school is thriving and growing, thanks to the committment of the staff, parents, students, and the generosity and support of people like you who value and respect the voice of children. We would like to share here, in the words of one of our families, what it means to a child to experience autonomy and agency at a democratic school.  

After a few months in mainstream education, we realised our 5 year old boy could 'get over' his hesitance, fear and dislike of the system he was in but we would really have to question at what cost to his happiness and confidence.  He is our second child, and his older brother was enjoying mainstream schooling, so it left us in a state of uncertainty.  However, having read about alternative forms of education, we knew our children would thrive more in an environment that promotes individuality, freedom of expression and a democratic governing policy.

We brought him to a meeting at the Sligo Sudbury School and he immediately connected with the place.  He knew he had found his place and his tribe, and we followed his lead.  He started in Sligo Sudbury a few weeks later.  Before he started, his older brother asked him 'do you think they have 'Star of the Week' there?'  He answered with a laugh, 'no, everyone is Star of the Week.'  He understood before us that talents and skills should not be graded and measured but explored, that every child should have the option to explore those passions that matter to them and that having an equal voice matters.   He thrived when he joined Sligo Sudbury; as a now 6 year old, his passion is still mud, playing tag, building dens and sometimes wandering indoors (though not often!).  His older brother (8) joined him at Sligo Sudbury the following September and although he struggled with the idea of leaving his former school friends, it was his decision to try it and to stay.  He really loves his new surroundings and has never looked back; the single biggest change we see in him is his confidence to speak to adults, to voice his opinion, to rationalise his decision making, to question the world around him and to be innovative.  We have struggled ourselves with the idea of leaving the curriculum behind, but we can honestly say our children are learning fast and are inquisitive.  Most importantly for us, in the midst of a world turned upside down in this pandemic, Sudbury offers a sanctuary of child centred normality and our children are happy.

Ailish and Breandan Flaherty

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Organization Information

North West Democratic School

Location: Sligo - Ireland
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Sligo Sudbury
Sligo, Ireland
$11,236 raised of $15,000 goal
 
281 donations
$3,764 to go
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