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What is needed now is the fortitude and personal strength to find your own path...

Joseph Moore is president of the Diablo Valley School Assembly and a parent of four students at the school. This article was published in the Fall 2008 issue of our newsletter.

The “basics” changed again

by Joseph Moore

The world’s finance industry is in turmoil. Despite reassurances from public figures, only one thing is certain: nobody knows how this is all going to turn out. It’s not even clear anyone really understands all that’s going on.

One ugly fact: While there are no doubt plenty of guilty parties, thousands of men and women who followed all the rules are out of a job through no fault of their own. They worked hard in school, got the college degree, landed the good job with the major bank or Wall Street investment house, worked hard — and still had their world turned upside down. Let us hope they have both good luck and the fortitude needed to make a new career for themselves, because a huge chunk of those high-paying jobs they just lost are not coming back.

The world just changed. Again.

This crisis once again makes clear a crucial point behind Sudbury education: for the future, starting right now, the skills and talents needed to succeed in the 'real world' are not those learned in twelve or more years of traditional schooling. All those poor souls whose high prestige jobs just disappeared are not going to get their next job because they got A’s in high school math or took advanced placement English. They are going to need to be tough, resourceful and flexible. They are going to need a network of friends and family to pull through. Unfortunately, hours, weeks and years of rigid structure, minute-by-minute management by an authority figure and countless hours of homework did not equip them with those skills and resources. In fact, the very personal, social and family time that makes such internal strength and social skills possible were largely sacrificed in the name of efficient learning.

What is needed now is the fortitude and personal strength to find your own path, to change paths on the fly as conditions change, and the ability to not wed yourself to a system that will discard you the instant somebody else’s idea of your value falls below some economic threshold.

That is why your child, my child — everybody’s child — needs a Sudbury education. That’s why a Sudbury education is needed, perhaps, even more by the “good student” than by the untraditional or outcast student — that good student is rewarded for fitting in to a system that, frankly, will discard you the instant somebody else’s idea of your value falls below some economic threshold. She is being set up for a lifetime of frustration and failure if she believes her life will be a series of paths predefined by others. Those untraditional and outcast kids are spared this delusion, a delusion thousands of formerly well-paid elite workers are being rudely awakened from this very moment.