Updated 2020-01-09

The Most Democratic School of Them All

Subtitled “Why the Sudbury Model of Education Should Be Taken Seriously,” this essay by a public high school English teacher challenges the dominant model of education.
Christine R. Traxler author
Traxler, C. R. (2015). The most democratic school of them all: Why the Sudbury model of education should be taken seriously. Schools, 12(2), 271-296.


Public high school English teacher Christine R. Traxler challenges the dominant model of education and discusses why the Sudbury model is a much more compelling model for all children. Given the controversy around No Child Left Behind and the Common Core Standards, Traxler argues that the Sudbury model, unchanged in its 50 years of existence, bypasses the typical debates around teacher efficacy, pedagogy, and curriculum due to its time-tested democratic free school model.

Philosophically the Sudbury model is aligned with the progressive movement, but this essay addresses deeply ingrained misconceptions by both ardent progressives and neoconservative critics about the way children learn and are motivated. The essay highlights Sudbury’s democratic communities of students and how the model creates the potential for highly disciplined learners who engage in subject mastery and disciplinary flexibility. Most important, the Sudbury model affords opportunity for students to fully internalize self-trust and autonomy.

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