Arts & Ideas Sudbury school

Arts & Ideas Sudbury School is a democratic school for ages 5-18. Our core principles are trust, autonomy, justice, and learning through play. At A&I, students and staff run the school together through a democratic structure in which every staff and student has one vote in every decision made. With no curriculum, no required academics, no testing and a daily schedule left up to each student to decide for themselves, students at A&I are free to learn, explore, and reflect at their own pace in a manner that work best for them.

Our viewpoint is that children are already amazing people. They are driven to explore life and all of its many complexities. Our humble goal is to do no harm and to trust children to find the path that works for them.

The natural mode of learning for children is play. Play is their way to model reality. Just as scientists work with models to study features within systems, children play with the features of their lives in order to understand them as parts of a larger whole. Along the way, they practice communication, problem-solving, leadership, and creativity, as well as reading, writing, and math.

What do children do at our school? They are playing, socializing, thinking, observing, planning events, and doing projects of their own. They may be engaged in gymnastics, programming, fort-building, mathematics, painting, video editing, musical instrument playing, woodworking, writing, dancing, storytelling, history, reading, Minecraft-ing, and whatever else strikes their fancy at the moment. Learning is highly individualized and varies from person to person and from moment to moment.

Regardless of the specific activities our children pursue, what they are truly learning is how to learn. This core learning explains how generations of Sudbury students, many of whom have never taken a formal class, thrive both at college and in the working world. They have learned how to focus, how to explore, how to ask questions, how to master something that interests them, and how to take failure, as well as success, in stride as steps towards achieving their own goals.