School With No Teachers Fuels Debate - NBC 6 South Florida
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School With No Teachers Fuels Debate

At Sunset Sudbury School, students rule

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    A school in Davie with no teachers lets the students drive the education bus. (Published Wednesday, June 8, 2011)

    Imagine a school where students get to do whatever they want all day long. It sounds like a students dream, but it exists, and it's in Davie.

    Sunset Sudbury School is based off a democratic school that takes student empowerment and child-directed learning to extremes.

    It is not just a slight alteration of what most people think of as a school. It is much closer to what in recent years has come to be known as "un-schooling" than it is to any other kind of alternative school.

    There are no teachers, no lesson plans, and no grades. Staff members believe this makes students learn to think for themselves and learn to unearth the knowledge they need from multiple sources.

    Some parents agree.

    "We don't want a worker bee. We want him to think outside the box," Veezie Lu, the mother of a 5-year-old student, said. "It doesn't appeal to him to sit and listen to what other people have to say because he is very vocal."

    Parents pay $6,600 a year in tuition for their child to call the shots.

    "I think public school is 90 percent memorization," said Timothy Blackwell, who has a child at the school. "I want my child to learn what she wants to learn."

    So what do the children learn?

    Three of the 10 students enrolled said they have learned how to knit, jump on a pogo stick, find butterflies outside, play with arts and crafts, and run through the water hose.

    Critics question whether the students are actually learning.

    The staff at Sunset Sudbury School argue the kids are learning to problem solve on their own, express their interests and make decisions.

    Students also get to pick the field trips and lesson plans, plan holiday parties and initiate art and community-improvement projects - all without being told or forced to do so by an adult.

    "All of this involves learning to read, write, and do math but in a much more natural way," said Dionne Ekendiz, staff member at Sunset Sudbury School.

    The school accepts students from ages 5 to 18. Once finished with school, students will not get a high school diploma.

    They will receive a GED after passing the test.

    To find out more about the Sunset Sudbury School, visit www.SunsetSudbury.org.