Re: Working for love

Charlie Wilkinson (
Mon, 13 Apr 1998 14:15:54 -0400

On Mon, Apr 13, 1998 at 01:16:15PM -0400, KleinCon wrought:
> From: KleinCon <>
> Date: Mon, 13 Apr 1998 13:16:15 EDT
> To:
> Subject: Re: Working for love
> X-Mailer: AOL 3.0 for Windows 95 sub 62

> In a message dated 98-04-12 05:31:10 EDT, Peter wrote:
> << I can't say I would like to be operated on by a
> surgeon who was "working for love" - nor take an international flight on a
> plane with a pilot working below the standard rate because of his/her love of
> flying. There is a good word for those who "work for love" - amateurs.
> >>
> Peter,
> As one who offers my services (for pay) professionally, I am often called upon
> to offer "pro bono" services. I do this very willingly for causes in which I
> believe. I don't believe that I offer such clients any less of myself and my
> expertse than I offer to those paying "full frieght". In this light I also
> think of doctors who perform operations without pay for poor people in this
> country or overseas.

Indeed, I think Peter has managed to insult a great number of both
professionals and amateurs in a single pot shot. ;-/ As Alan says,
there are professionals that do pro bono work (though I was never a big
Sonny Bono fan myself ;) and there are "amateurs" that do exceptional
work -- better than many professionals in their field. While Peter's
experiences at Summerhill are certainly valid enough, I don't think that
they (and his conclusions about them) stand a chance of applying well
across the entire "alternative schooling" paradigm. His remarks about
"intolerance of criticism" and "cult-like behavior" could just as easily
apply to those groups in favor of mainstream methods of education.

What does all this boil down to? The primary concerns here are that
both the school and the students flourish. Can it be said that staff
pay rates are a fundamental issue in achieving those ends? Depends a
lot on the staff, I would think. i.e., new hires should be carefully
considered on an individual basis, and *re*considered if need be. Also,
a "labor of love" can be a powerful motivator in this kind of work.
We are not talking about burger flippers at McDonalds here (no insult
intended), but people actively involved and interested in helping children
build a successful future. I think any parent who is not overly self-
interested will tell you all about the need to make sacrifices to improve
the lives of the next generation. I'm *not* trying to make this into a
justification for paying sub-living wages to school staff. However, this
discussion came up because the staff's value often exceeds the school's
ability to pay. This must be reconciled somehow.

To some (to the extent that they can do it without starving), the only
compensation they really need is knowing that they've made a positive
difference in the life of a child. In a culture that measures people
more by what they accumulate than what they can give, people like that
can be hard to come by. Peter, I'm sorry that Summerhill was unable to
attract more such people while you were there.


                Charlie Wilkinson -
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