Re: DSM: Learning disabilities at SVS

Teresa Gallagher (
Sun, 24 May 1998 18:48:59 -0400

KleinCon wrote:
> << As far as ADD etc, if
> a child is free to come and go wherever, whenever and doesn't have to pay
> attention to stuff he's not interested in, how could anyone say he has an
> attention problem. The school environment creates these "disabilities."

Well said! (and may I mention once again that there is a big marketing
opportunity here since 5% of kids are said to be ADD and 20% sub-ADD).

I've now heard two sides to the reading issue. Most people have said
that all SVS kids eventually do learn to read. Someone else (I forget
who) disagreed, but maybe that wasn't about SVS per se, just democratic
schools. When these kids graduate, do they read WELL? Does a kid that
learns how to read at age 13 read as well at age 17 as his peers? Kids
brains are elastic only to a certain age, and then it's harder to learn
certain subjects (like foreign language, for example). I have no idea
about reading skills, but there might be an age limit for that as well.

I don't mean to be a pain in the $@%&, but have there been any
independent assessments about the abilities of SVS graduates? Sorry for
the all the questions, but this is probably a big reason why many people
do not jump on the SVS bandwagon. It's a radical idea apparently
without any solid scientific evidence (third party) that it works for
everyone. Where are the statistics showing it works as well or better
than traditional schools? Basically, what I've heard so far is a lot of
very committed and kind people trying very hard to do what's best for
the kids out there. But there still needs to be scientifically designed
studies that compare graduates from SVS schools to graduates from public
schools. Not standardized testing, mind you.

I'm getting set to add a webpage on SVS/democratic schools on my website
"Born To Explore! The Other Side of ADD." It would be a lot easier to
convince my readers to try such a school if I could site studies rather
than just quote what "SVS says." Personally, I think my son would do
just great. But this is an intuitive feeling only. I'd feel more
comfortable if I had some statistical data backing up my intuition.

-Teresa Gallagher

"The mind is not a vessel to be filled
but a fire to be lighted." - Plutarc