Voices from the New American Schoolhouse

Daniel Mydlack


This documentary, made in 2005 by Professor Mydlack, explores the lives of students who attend the Fairhaven School in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

Fairhaven School is an institution that follows the Sudbury model of schooling.  Like other Sudbury schools, it has no principle, and all rules are made by the students themselves.  The faculty and staff are elected yearly by the students.  There is no set curriculum, and students are free to study as much or as little as they like each day.

And yet it work!

Children learn to take responsibility for their own actions.  With assistance (when desired) of the faculty, students pursue study of those topics that interest them the most.

I know what you are thinking.  You are thinking, if students are free to do whatever they want all day, they will leave the experience not having learned anything, not even knowing how to read.

You might think that, but you would be wrong to do so.  In fact, not only has no one ever graduated from a Sudbury school without knowing how to read (who can say the same about government-run schools?), most Sudbury-model students proceed to college.

The greatness of this experiment in education does not end there.  A great deal of former Sudbury-model students go on to become entrepreneurs, and a far higher percentage of them than former students of government-regulated schools, when they become adults, say they are happy with where their lives have taken them.