Re: Hello there

Coby Smolens (cobys@webtv.net)
Tue, 7 Oct 1997 02:17:24 -0700

Coby Smolens again, Marin Sudbury School Founders Group.

Sheri -- my last abridged post was in the middle of editing when I
inadvertantly hit the send button (one of webtv's quirks) -- sorry.

What I was trying to say was that a precondition to joining our Founders
Group is a visit to one of the schools. You may not be that far along in
your own exploration of this quite unique approach to schooling, but I
feel that it is a worthwhile supplement to the investigation. We are
fortunate in thet there are three other schools within 1 1/2 hours
driving radius from us and we've visited all of them and come away
satisfied that, yes, it really works in practice pretty much like it
reads-- however, that hasn't sufficed for the more stubbornly curious
among us. For four of six our group nothing would do but a visit to the
alma mater itself... We have not regretted it.

Closest to you would be the Circle School in Pa., Red Cedar School in
Vt, and Sudbury Valley itself.
(Am I missing anyone?)
I'm sure a post to this list would net you their contact info.

I admit to having had a few similar questions following my first
readings of some of the SVS literature -- use of the ubiquitous,
socially vestigial "he" as the default pronoun of choice; tuition;
cultural diversity -- all things which my hyper-tuned antennae fixed
upon out of habit, out of a feeling that "nothing can be that good,
there's gotta be a catch and I'm gonna find it!".

But the closer I looked the more I liked what I saw.

Reading tells us that the Sudbury School is built on the same familiar
principles which guaranteed freedom and fair treatment to our forebears
-- only in the fine print it was "foreFATHERS" who were the
beneficiaries of those lofty sentiments, of course.

There has been, at least in letter, if not always in spirit, a
progression toward "universalizing" rights once reserved for the landed
white male in this country. The Sudbury School is another important step
in this direction, putting to rest (at least within its borders) the
last arbitrary distinction between people, that of age. Sudbury schools
are, theoretically, the embodiment of the phrase "Liberty and Justice
for All".

One might theorize, based on reading, that the issues of (race, sex,
age) equality which are so prevalent and troubling in the world at large
might be much less so in a Sudbury School. where equal rights and
respect, protected by a democratic system of due process are the
fundamental elements upon which the school is built.

It all sounds so good on paper. The only way to really get a feeling for
how it works is to be there -- to hang out with those who are living
it. You have to smell the clarity of the air in the absence of fear,
feel the basic undertone of respect, watch the play of busy minds and
bodies -- engaged in living _their_ lives , hear the quality of
self-assuredness (and the remarkable eloquence that is the verbal
hallmark of all the schools I've seen so far) ... Read -- yes, talk --
yes, but go see!

I don't want to be painting a utopia here -- there are all the people
issues to be worked out in this environment that exist elsewhere -- it's
just that the basis for dealing with the stuff is the clearly defined
work of the whole community. The sense I get is of ownership -- everyone
from 4yrs up feels like "it's
mine, I helped make it and I have as much power as anyone to change it
if I want to.

Again -- Welcome to the list and good luck -- it gets better and
better!

(Visits to any of the Sudbury Schools must be arranged in advance and
each school has it's own policies regarding visitors.)