Have you ever had a crazy dream that somehow somehow becomes a reality? There have been so many times over the last year or so when I have had to stop and pinch myself, hardly able to believe we have managed to do what we have managed to do. As many of you know, I and some fabulous people have spent the last few years creating something so ginormous and mad that it hardly seems possible that normal folk like us could actually do such a thing.
We made a school. Like, an actual, real school, with students. The hilarious part is that any teacher that had me in their class would pale at the thought of me of all people being involved in setting up and running a school. I did not like school and school did not like me. If I had a euro for every time I was told I was 'a square peg in a round hole'...
However, this is a school with a difference, and while there are many the world over, it’s the first of its kind in Ireland. The difference is there is no curriculum, no classes, no teachers per se, the students decide how they want to spend their time, and for any of you not familiar with this concept, right now I am sure there are a million questions firing off in your brain, like can they still go to college? (Yes they can and do!) How do they learn? I could happily get up on my soapbox now and ‘talk for Ireland’ as they say, but you’d be much better informed if you read any of the articles linked below.
People ask what a typical day is like for our community, and there is no one answer to that. Every day is different, but you can guarantee there will definitely be cooking, games, conversation, exploring, reading, sharing, dreaming, cleaning, negotiating, building, making, drawing, wondering, creating, running, climbing, bouncing, questioning, honing, messing, contemplating, and a million other unquantifiable activities, all of which adds up to learning that is based on the individuals terms and needs, which in turn creates a vibrant, busy, active environment which is both exciting and fun, but also challenging in the best sense of the word. Phew!
Every day I am more and more convinced of what we are doing, all my apprehensions and wobbly moments of terror are a thing of the past, and I believe in this with no doubts whatsoever. Every day I am blown away by how these children and young adults, who having been given trust and freedom and responsibility, are striding forward, taking confident leaps towards their future, with such joy and determination (and challenges too, of course).
The thing is, we are self-funded, we do not receive a penny from the government, and now that we are a charity (CHY 22018) we can accept donations and we are beginning to look at fundraising. So, here is something I have never done before:
If you are so inclined, we would be delighted if you wanted to donate to our cause, (or buy us a building! We also have a growing waiting list and will need a new home sometime in the next couple of years) or even just share this with family and friends and ask them to share it on too. Our Donate page is here https://www.idonate.ie/3731_wicklow-sudbury-school.html
Every little helps!
For some further reading you can start here:
Sir Ken Robinson on parents obsession with sending their children to college - article, and TED Talk.