I want to attempt to show what the Sudbury model within a Christian environment may look like. I chose this model of education because as one being a Christian since a little girl and growing up in a church, I saw a pattern of kids growing up in the church and then as soon as they begin college, they leave the faith. I began to ask myself and God, “Why is this happening?” I thought they believed? They grew up in the church. Their parents are strong Christians!” After many years of doing this questioning and also wondering what would happen with my own kids, I believe God led me to the Sudbury Model. It was a total accident. Something I stumbled upon. Something that at first my friends and family thought I had gone insane. This week, however, I experienced something that made me realize what drew me to this model. A student and I sat down to chat this week. In his times of chatting with his schoolmates he had expressed that he was not a Christian. His friends tried to convince him to believe, but he wasn’t moving (I love that kids have the freedom to discuss their religion as opposed to a Bible teacher lecturing them every day). I overheard these discussions. Other staff members discussed it too, but not in a way to condemn him. In his time with staff he has been allowed to share his lack of Christian belief and it was allowed. Some may say, “Oh NO! Don’t do that!” Well, didn’t we all have the freedom to one day CHOOSE God? Didn’t we all go through the process of discovring Christianity for ourselves and defining it for ourselves, as opposed to just believing whatever mommy and daddy said? As adults we forget our journey. Why can’t kids have the same right and freedom? Kids have questions! We need to let them ask those questions and explore them! Anyway, the student and I sat to talk this week and it was an awesome conversation. Come to find out, he NEVER believed, he said. He just went to church because he was forced to. I asked him how he felt about being at the school with all these Christians around. I asked him what caused him NOT to believe and how old he was when he realized that he didn’t (he was 6). I only asked questions and let him answer. I did not try to indoctrinate or convert. I only asked questions to help me understand where he was and how he arrived there. I look forward to furthering this dialogue and I literally have NO idea where it will lead, but I am perfectly within my rights to listen to him, ask him questions and even share my beliefs. I will say, that I do feel glad that he is in a place where he can openly talk about this and maybe through discussion, questioning, wondering, and adults not forcing their beliefs on him, he will choose Christianity for himself. Either way, at least he will feel loved unconditionally in the process.
Published by drnika
Anika earned her B.A. from Howard University in elementary education. She also has earned several graduate degrees in education from New York University and Howard University. She has a Masters in liberal arts from St. John’s College and is in the process of completing her PhD in curriculum and instruction from the University of Maryland. Her research focus is on building literacy with African American students through engagement in the books of the Canon. She has served as a teacher, supervisor for student teachers, director of education and Head of School. Currently she is the founder and principal of a unique Christian school in Southern Maryland called The Living Water School which is based on the Sudbury model. She and her husband Damon, have three children (ages 3, 5 and 7), a Tibetan Terrier and a pretty crazy cat. View all posts by drnika