Sudbury Valley School

The Difference Between Learning And Education – Inspired By Sudbury Valley School.

Education? There’s no such thing.

It’s a pleasant synonym for the indoctrination of children towards our own ends. Education is what happens when we raise kids because we want things from them. Learning is what happens when we raise kids because we want to give them something – the world.

How do we do that? What does it look like? What is our job if we want to give children the world, rather than use them for it? It’s very simple.

To give children the world, you love them, and protect them, no matter what, and you let them find their own way. Love them. Protect them. Listen to them. Empower them.

As I said, education is what happens when we want something from children – in the instance of standardized education, obedience and productivity at monotonous tasks. We give them an education so they can give us what we want. Education has not been a consistent mainstay of human progress; it has flitted in and out of cultures in different forms, as required. For nearly a hundred years the current form of education has been in place, and in a lot of ways, for much of that time; it has served us well. But it is no longer needed.

Standardized education no longer serves us as anything more than a free babysitting service, and an indoctrination into an obedient consumer culture that is no longer useful for anything other than propagating itself.

Learning on the other hand, has always existed and been pivotal to the survival and progress of the human race. Learning is not optional or institutional, and it will take place in any environment, from the bleakest to the brightest, no matter what. For example, in many of our schools now, in spite of the oppressive atmosphere, students manage to learn that their opinions and interests are not valued, that they are subordinate to their teachers, that they must sit down, shut up and do as their told, or suffer ridicule and punishment. These are just a few of the lessons that are compulsory in our backward curriculums. In a moment you will have the option of watching a video demonstrating a school that fosters learning, with no ‘education’ necessary to the process.

Sudbury Valley School inspired this post by showing me very plainly what learning is, and how to guarantee it will happen. Learning is guaranteed to happen when we love our children so that they learn to love, listen to them so that they learn to express, protect them so that they can safely explore until they’re old enough to protect themselves, and empower them with the things they need to pursue that exploration.

It can be difficult to do all this because many of us charged with cultivating such an environment have not yet learned to love, have not yet learned to listen, we have never felt safe enough, or empowered enough, to explore, and so we think it unsafe to do so. In these things, many of us must learn alongside these children we are entrusted with. And we’ll be better for it.

To summarize: Education is what we do to our children when we want the world from them. Learning is what our children do when we give them the world.

I hope you enjoy this video. That it inspires you like it inspired me.

If you like this post, please share it on and spread the word – It’s pointless if it’s not passed on. And of course, if you have anything to add, please leave a comment.