The philosophy behind PFS really goes all the way back, hundreds of thousands of years, to the time of the hunter-gatherers. For 99% of human history, humans lived in these groups, where learning how to find food and evade predators was essential to the success of the species. Yet early humans had nothing like school. Adults did not direct, motivate, or assess the learning of young people. Instead, children learned through observation, play, and exploration, much like students at PFS do.
Our more recent forbears include the Summerhill School (“Opened in 1921 and still ahead of its time!”) and the Sudbury Valley School, which opened in 1968 in Massachusetts. There are now dozens of schools operating in a similar manner around the world.
In 2008, a Founders group of about 10 dedicated educators, parents, and community members began meeting frequently to launch The Philly Free School. In September 2011, the school opened its doors at 2001 Christian Street with 16 students. This number has grown ever since, and we are proud of the diversity of our community in terms of age, gender, race, socio-economics, geography, and nationality. The school plans to reach an enrollment of about 150 students over the next decade.