by Aaron Browder, Open School staff
November 24, 2017
What led you to discover this kind of education, and why is it special to you?
I heard about it in a class on alternative education at New College of California. I took that class because I was interested in becoming a teacher, following in my dad’s footsteps. There I read the book Free at Last by Daniel Greenberg, the founder of the Sudbury Valley School. It kind of blew my mind, and I’ve been talking about it ever since.
The Sudbury model stood out to me because of my experience with education in my own childhood, which I felt was a huge waste of time. I think it’s awesome for students to be able to do what they want and what they’re interested in instead of what an institution thinks they should be interested in. Also this kind of education is not such a rigid time commitment. You don’t have to be here at this exact time. It seems more natural to life, and much less stressful.
My experience with public school was pretty negative. When I went to an alternative college I realized how much I love school and how many variations on learning there are. I realized that the most dominant system isn’t necessarily the best system.
Why did you want to become a staff?
When I saw the job listing, it was super exciting because I’ve been interested in doing something like this for a long time. I never thought there would be a school like this near where I live. Education is an important value to me. I feel like this job is something I’ve been training for my whole life but I never thought there would be an application for that training.
What do you like to do for fun?
Yoga, music, nature, cooking, crafts. But the most important thing to me is just being with my friends and family. I also like to travel — I have friends all over the country that I like to visit.
What unique skills do you bring to The Open School as a staff?
I have lots of experience in production in the art and music worlds, including event production and media production. I have some tech skills, like creating websites and graphic design. I do yoga. I can tap dance. I’ve spent a lot of time just becoming a well-rounded human, so I have a wide variety of talents.
Tell me about an adventure you had that broadened your perspective.
In 2007 I went to Zimbabwe, and stayed with a family from a small village. It was a life changing experience — finding friendship and commonality with people who live such an opposite lifestyle; finding a place where I felt more at home than I do in my own society; experiencing a completely different structure of time and completely different ways of being; and realizing that the Western model isn’t the only model that works or can work. In fact it led me to see a lot of flaws in the Western model, and to see how the two ways of thinking can aid each other.