Re: DSM: Educational Reform

Joe Jackson (
Wed, 20 May 1998 22:09:56 -0400


You asked for my experiences. My experiences are that public schools are
pathetic. I've attended many of them, and taught at dozens; many of them
would be considered the finest schools in the country, but coercion and
persuasion are fundamental aspects of every public school in this country.
I think coercion and persuasion create very negative results. Those are my
firsthand experiences and opinions. I'm sorry if you're put off.

-Joe Jackson

> From: SEArenas <>
> To:
> Subject: Re: DSM: Educational Reform
> Date: Wednesday, May 20, 1998 6:33 PM
> Thanks for your reply Joe. Although I had not intended for my message to
> to be forwarded to the entire list, since it was, I'll respond here too.
> Probably I'm in a minority on this list, but I'm somewhat put off by the
> implications that public school is so completely awful, and the Sudbury
> is so completely perfect. I see some of what you describe in my son's
> experience at public school, but I see many positives as well. And, I
> concerns about aspects of the Sudbury model as well... I think as an
> it's pretty close to perfect, but as a real-life experience, it may not
> live up to the ideal. If resolving problems, learning from mistakes,
> with hard issues is an accepted & given part of the Sudbury experience...
> I don't see why problems, mistakes, and hard issues that come up in
> school are somehow worse. Harder to effect change perhaps, but not
> different.
> For parents whose kids have never attended public school, and who have
> accumulated second hand horror stories from other public school families,
> may be very clearcut. But it would be interesting to hear from parents
> have had kids in public schools, not just struggling inner-city public
> but "good" public schools (the ones that get nationally recognized for
> innovation and excellence), parents who have volunteered and been active
> working with school districts and staff, and how and why they chose to
> that learning environment for a Sudbury model school.
> For me, the decision is not likely to be based on my opinion of whether
> learning environment/method is inherently better than another, but more
> on which one is best for my child. I will say that regardless of which
path I
> & my son ultimately choose for him, the experience of researching the
> model and other alternative methods, has been eye-opening and empowering
> terms of asking for what I want & need from my son's education... rather
> just accepting/making-do with what is available & offered.
> Shelley
> In a message dated 98-05-20 16:17:13 EDT, you write:
> << And the requirements for public school students today are even more
> ludicrous than they were when I was in school in the Seventies and
> Eighties. Our friends who live in Bethesda, MD have three children
> enrolled in public school. They spend two hours _a night_ doing
> and much of it is so abstract, the parents can't even help them with it.
> They showed it to me (it was sixth grade grammar), and it was absolute
> - completely useless. Par for the course.
> I (and I'm sure many of you) have seen it over and over again, where
> have these brilliant kids with sparkles in their eyes who play deep and
> hard from dawn until dusk, until the parents shove them into our
> workaholic schools. Sure enough within a year the sparkle's gone, and
> they're trudging around acting reserved and judgemental, waiting for the
> next adult to impose their will on them. They've got the weight of the
> world on their shoulders, because they've been thrust into the adult
> of constant work, evaluation, punishment, and rewards!
> I decided I wouldn't allow that to happen to my children. They're very
> lucky not to have to spend a year decompressing from a conventional
> because they will never set foot in one.
> Having made this decision, Linda and I see things every day that confirm
> our choice. Our son is 6. Right now he's teaching himself to read.
> really excited about math and animals (especially bugs). He's very
> computer literate. All this, and Linda and I have never initiated the
> that he should learn a single thing.
> I respect your path and I think it's wonderful that you are so obviously
> concerned with your son's life. I hear your concerns, and I have heard
> them a dozen times. The issues you raise are issues that every single
> of us have faced, and the answer is that the Sudbury Model requires from
> parents great patience and trust in the child. I think my kids need
what I
> needed when I was their age and what we all need as adults: for them to
> respected as human beings capable of making decisions for themselves and
> being responsible for those decisions. The degree to which children can
> make good decisions usually depends on how long they've been allowed to,
> and in the case of a public school student, that's no time at all. >>