Little Lake Learning Community is Democratic Free School that serves ages 5-18 and is based in Ann Arbor, MI. We’ve been open since 2010, operated collaboratively by the students, staff and parents of our community.
At the Little Lake Learning Community we strive to empower students to take ownership of their own education. All choices about what students want to do with their day are considered educationally valid. Students are able to freely explore their interests and find new resources and interests in a community of nurturing adults and other interested students. Play is an integral part of learning. Through play, people explore new avenues of thought, are engaged intrinsically, and often run into problems which they themselves want to solve. Learning that is not integral to a person’s experience is often either uninteresting or forgettable. We strive to meet students where they are at, and help them to learn what they feel is important to them. In doing so we aim to empower students to make decisions for themselves and take responsibility for their education and continuing development, and more broadly still, themselves as individuals.
Students are not oblivious to the world around them, in fact they are curious. All students learn at their own pace, whether they attend a traditional school or not. Our community fosters individual development according to a schedule that the student feels comfortable with. Eventually reading, writing, math, science, etc. become important to the student because they need to know these skills in order to meet their own goals. In short we strive to build a community where students make the decisions which impact them.
In addition to an open curriculum and resources for diverse interests, we run our community democratically with all decisions made by those that are affected by the outcomes. Students, staff, and often parents will make decisions on how the community functions and are free to change all but the mission and safety considerations according to our bylaws. We do so at our daily morning meetings with students and staff, as well as in monthly All Community Meetings. These decisions are formulated by students, staff or parents and are voted on by all who are affected using a consensus based decision-making model. Through participating in this process, students learn to take action when they want to change something, consider the interests of others, and strive to come up with solutions that work for everyone. The combination of freedom in education and democracy has been a proven recipe for success in the Sudbury schools, Albany Free School in New York, Summerhill School in the United Kingdom, and many more throughout the world. We model ourselves off of these communities.
- We believe in the power of democratic education to transform the lives of young people and help build a more vibrant, just, and sustainable society.
- We believe that young people ought to be active co-creators of their own learning and valued participants in a lively learning community.
- We believe in education that develops critical thought, care for others, and prepares the whole child (social, emotional, physical and intellectual).
- We are excited to work with you to rethink education and unite it with our mutual commitment to democracy, student empowerment, and social justice.