Sudbury way of learning to be topic

Wednesday, December 28, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 12:42 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 13, 2008

A former Hickman High School teacher wants educators and parents, whether in public or private settings, to consider alternative ways to educate students.

Bruce Smith will discuss the Sudbury model as it contrasts other education models from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Columbia Public Library, Broadway and Garth Avenue. A question and answer session will follow.

Smith, who has worked in Sudbury schools in Illinois and Colorado, describes the schools as settings in which students are responsible for deciding what they learn and how they are taught. The schools allow the students’ input on who works there and the opportunity to explore their areas of interest. The adults at the school fill in the roles needed to run a school, but there are no teachers in the traditional sense of the word.

“Sudbury focuses on responsibility rather than the normal accountability (rewards or punishments) found in public education,” Smith said.

Smith’s presentation is sponsored by the Youth Alternative Learning Exchange, dedicated to helping inform youth about their learning options. Linda Green, the exchange’s co-founder, said she wants to help others in Columbia explore current approaches to education and hopes this meeting can at least start to fill in any gaps.

“We want to look at what we need to do, what people want and where the interest is,” said Green. “I want to raise the consciousness that there are other options out there.”

Smith said he hopes attendees come with open minds. “I want people to set aside assumptions so we can start on step one for Columbia education,” he said.

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