Re: Responsible?

Dale R. Reed (
Wed, 04 Dec 1996 09:49:16 -0800

Good morning all from rainy, cold Seattle. Here we go again. . .

Mimsy replying to me: So it is important to Andy Smallman's school that
teachers extol teaching. That is one difference between PSCS and SVS --
neither school claims to be very similar to the other.

Dale replies: Sorry about a misunderstanding here. Andy included in
his next to his last newsletter an article written by a College
Professor describing his very positive experience with a few of the
students from the Puget Sound Community School http:/ and as
can be expected from a College Professor he used the "t" word more than
once. Andy does not extol teaching. Andy has a very small
staff(actually he has a very small school but it is growing) and the
teachers, or whatever they prefer to call themselves, come largely from
the general non politically correct(from the SVS point of view) public.

Mimsy replied to something I said: I am surprised at reading -- from
someone who clearly has no way of visualizing the way things actually
work at SVS -- that kids should ask for a refund if they are not
"taught" what they want to know; that adults would seize control "back"
if kids seized control. What in the heck does that latter mean? What
can it mean?

Dale replies: For instance; I am vitally interested in the health of
our libraries.

The libraries have a serious problem brought on by the Internet. Our
King County Library has a long time policy of warning the parents that
the library is not responsible for what ideas the children may encounter
in the libraries. But now there is access in living color through the
Internet to all the world's ideas for anyone old enough to read and
click a mouse.

There must be many surfing capable computers at all SVS model schools
with many of students using them all day long. I will assume that they
are finding all kinds of interesting ideas on the net that most adults
are uncomfortable seeing them print out and post in living color on the
bulletin boards of the school or take home with them. I imagine there
are discussions(notice I did not use the "t" word) with certain students
that they really should not be downloading Mrs. Clinton our her
husband's credit card history, etc. etc. I would expect that the SVS
schools attract some very resourceful hackers and I would expect that in
a democratic meeting they have voted to not allow any censorship at the
school. So what happened next Mimsy? Tell us people that " . . no way
of visualizing. . ." even after reading many of your books, subscribing
to you newsletters, reading newspaper articles about your school. . . .

Mimsy says: What has it to do with our school? I am also surprised at
repeated insinuations that children in a "free" school never learn
anything that takes discipline or repetition? Are our students assumed
to be something a little different from the rest of the human race?

Dale replies: Well if they are not a lot different as a result of their
unique educational environment what is the point of these discussions?
Since by implication you agree that discipline and repetition are
desirable activities in the school and you say it goes on at Sudbury
without rewards or teaching that is wonderful. There are examples of
that happening in your literature. For instance the boy fishing all day
for years and eventually becoming a successful computer programmer and
the boy that taught himself Physics. I think there was a girl that
recently left to become a dancer which I am sure took considerable
discipline and repetition. I would expect even more internal
discipline from SVS students because of the lack of external
discipline(John Holt had something to say about this). Sorry if
misspoke on this account.

Mimsy replied to something Alan said: I don't quite agree.
Sudbury-model schools are in fact mainly there for kids to be part of a
society on an every day, all day long basis, a society that they are
part of defining on an ongoing basis. This is the environment in which
they choose to conduct their lives, which means that they can learn
however they want to -- who could stop them? -- and they gain incredible
richness in exposure, environment, knowledge; and also very full control
of their own lives, by being in a large group. A control that is not
possible for a child that is homeschooled anywhere that I have ever

Dale replies: A part of "a" society but not "the" society. Mimsy I
would suggest that you read Grace Llewellyn's three books. I agree with
Grace that it is homeschoolers that have the most opportunity to live
real lives in the real adult society. While schooled children including
the SVS children are spending their most important learning years
isolated from the real world that they will eventually have to deal
with. In fact I bet many SVS parents put their children in SVS to
assure they will be isolated from the real world.

Believe me I am not being critical of anyone on this account, just
trying to understand what is really going on in other peoples minds and
determine the truth. SVS is much closer to an IDEAL(I am talking
utopia here) world than the welfare schools. Most defenders of the
status quo claim with some justification that the problems in the
welfare schools are the same as those in the larger society and hence
they are a realistic model of the real world. I do not agree with them
but then I don't agree with hardly anybody about anything.

I am working on the "motorcycle" postings. I have a well worn copy of
"Zen. .
It is well worn for I have carried it in my pack a few times when on
hiking overnighters. I sense there is something important and deep
there but I have not discovered it yet but for some reason I enjoy
reading it. My copy of "Lila" is not worn for that book is completely
over my head. Maybe as a result of Bruce's comments I will get it out

Hang in there Mimsy. You have to admit I do get some good threads
going. And maybe under the tutelage of you fine teachers I will die a
wise man. I bet some of the rest of you are learning a few things too.
As Bruce said we are learning in the same way that all students learn in
SVS model schools. So by participating on this and many other
discussion lists I am following the SVS educational model. I would not
be contributing if I did not enjoy it for I believe with Ayn Rand in the
"Virtue of Selfishness". Dale