“We have always struggled to find a way to define the key ideas that make us what we are, so that we can recognize them ourselves, but primarily in order to be able to convey them to others outside the School.
“What I want to discuss is what turns out to be a fascinating walk through the history of Sudbury schools – namely, the development of the various themes that have appeared over the years as those that define a Sudbury school. It turns out to be a rather surprising and interesting set of themes.
“What emerges is a set of concepts that are interlinked. They’re not definable by logic and this is the reason so many of these concepts, when they’re applied logically by other people, end up being mockeries of what our system is like. This is why you cannot take one, or two, or three of these concepts and adapt them in a meaningful way to an existing school based on a wholly different model. That’s what a tapestry of themes is about. It’s an organic complex – it cannot be broken up into isolated, independent components. The Sudbury model is based on such a tapestry. Put another way, this implies that the Sudbury model is basically a culture. We’ve been trying to say this over the years in different ways. We tried for a while to talk about the School being ‘a community’, but that’s not what it is. We tried to talk about it being ‘like a village’, but that’s not what it is. The school is a culture. It’s defined by an organic complex of themes, and I’m sure we haven’t even discovered all the themes yet. But as we discover new ones over the coming years, they will integrate themselves into the tapestry.”