What's the Buzz?

Associated School: 

The buzzing sound is always present. Sometimes it swells up, loudly cloaking us all in an almost tangible roar. Sometimes it softens to background murmur. But always it changes, moment to moment, day by day, a living force, an electromagnetic surge of power and energy.

It can be disorienting to hit it cold - particularly when you enter later in the morning when the force is "up and running" for the day. I imagine it can seem overwhelming, chaotic, to a visitor or a parent stopping by briefly. I know sometimes it feels overpowering to me and I have to create a space around me or inside myself to "catch up."

It has certain fairly predictable peaks - mass arrivals, mass departures, the time right before a big event or trip, and the times when everyone is gathered in the same room by serendipity or design. And not so predictable, but also happening frequently every day, there are these little magical moments when the volume drops off suddenly and if you're listening with a bigger ear you can hear growing, exploring, becoming - real education - going on all around you.

It's people. It's people talking, talking, talking... in groups, in pairs, in threes, in informal sessions, in meetings, in side by side play activities, in games, in the office, on the stage, over lunch, during football, during cooking, hamming it up, or arguing an idea... talking. It's people finding their way, learning about choices, making new beginnings, trying new things, building and existing in community.

Over the short haul, this is definitely not the most efficient looking way to get things done. The community or one of its members defines a need. People talk about it. Perhaps a committee forms or a motion is made to the School Meeting. We try an idea out or vote a policy into being. We talk about it some more. People spread the word through signs, conversation, question/answer, complaint forms, or by accident. We modify the idea, and the process starts all over again and so it goes.

For example, the community is completing its third week of working out just how the chore system will operate this year. We started with the modified summer style with people choosing a chore each day, discussed it at School Meeting, asked the School Aesthetics Committee to deal with learning how to computerize the schedule, hand wrote it, struggled with the problems of individuals' abilities matching with the chores demands and all throughout have been daily, as a community, getting the work done. It is definitely more "short term" efficient to have a teacher assign a chore to each person and that's that; you do your chore all year, period. One person decides, 42 people are impacted. In the TCS way, for this particular issue, by my personal knowledge alone, at least 18 people have been involved in discussing and creating the process. And I'm sure I don't know about everyone, so it's easily 50% of the community involved in some way in this one issue. There's been a lot of talking.>

Which way creates ownership, community, and creative independent thinking? Which way, in the long run, more efficiently allows individuals to become adults who can make choices, handle decisions, make judgments, take responsibility, and have initiative?

And why am I paying so much attention to chores and what is going on with them this year? I really just drew the chore issue out of my mystical hat. The same process goes on in the creation and operation of the corporations. An idea or an interest surfaces and the talking begins. The meetings, the sharing of visions, the hammering out of purposes, bylaws, certifications, the plans and activities, the talking goes on and on. It is the same sort of process for committees, for School Meeting business, for Judicial Committee operations and actions and for all of the other structures which cradle the school.

This process of the school finding its way, of the collection of individuals that make up the school community forging social and educational structures by which we will be guided, is mirrored in each individual's finding his or her way also. The new year has begun with a much larger community, a much older community and many new members making up the community. The talking is ceaseless, like the ocean's waves.

Individuals slowly expand, trying on new roles, relaxing into activities they've never tried before, or which had become labeled as inefficient or unworthy or they were "just not talented enough for" in earlier school situations. The talking goes on... "Did you read this book?" "What if we take this apart?" "I can do that all day???" "I feel..." "I need a nap." 'What do you like to......... I don't want to...", "Anyone want to?", "I'm going to...

This school is not a quiet place. This school is not a place for facile expediency. It vibrates, it hums, it buzzes and lurches along.

This school is not a quiet place. This school is not a place for facile expediency. It vibrates, it hums, it buzzes and lurches along. It takes getting used to and growing into. It takes time to figure out how to create one's place and space within it.

Let's celebrate the sound- all over the world adults and nations are trying to learn to talk to each other. TCS is a graduate course in communication.

But loud voices are still for outside - Laws #11.2, 12.2, and 13.5 are still in effect!

Contact Us

Hudson Valley Sudbury School

84 Zena Road
Kingston, NY 12401
Phone: 845-679-1002
Fax: 845-679-3874