Re: DSM: Learning disabilities at SVS

Joe Jackson (
Tue, 26 May 1998 02:57:04 -0400

Hi, Liz!

Don't you think, for the sake of the argument, that a baby, seeing the
whole world on two legs walking around, would want to learn to walk and
teach herself to walk eventually?

My understanding of the Sudbury Model is that if we avoid persuading or
making suggestions to children, at the expense of them not learning what we
want them to, when we want them to, they then reap the personal rewards,
self-esteem, and character of having started, conducted, and concluded the
whole learning process. It's almost as if by an adult suggesting what &
when to learn, a little yet essential piece of ownership of that process is
taken away.

I think a staff member would certainly not recommend a book in the manner
you mentioned, but I would say that parents are free to relate to their
children in any manner they wish.

Having said that, if friendly parental suggestions turn into haranguing,
the child would certainly benefit less in a Sudbury environment.

I wouldn't want to try to defend the baby analogy very far, though --
there's a whole world of dependence there that just isn't that much of a
factor with most six-year-olds. Except when they're really sleepy.

-Joe Jackson

> From: Elizabeth Barr <>
> To:
> Subject: Re: DSM: Learning disabilities at SVS
> Date: Monday, May 25, 1998 10:30 PM
> I am enjoying this discussion, and would like to jump in in the hopes of
> hearing peoples thoughts on some questions I have.
> >The whole philosophy is to allow the kids to initiate but it was very
> >difficult to allow that. As a staff member it is so tempting to say,
> >"Would you like to do this, or would you like to do that or what about
> >this?" etc. This is NOT in harmony with the philosophy.
> It seems unnatural to me to stay totally hands off. Thinking of the
> analogy, often used in alternative education: babies learn to walk and
> without classes....why not continue to allow them to learn in their own
> once they are school age? That makes total sense to me, and I see that
> SVS. Yet, when babies are learning to walk and talk, we are not merely
> observers.....most adults love to make goofy sounds to infants, and hold
> their chubby little hands while they walk, and encourage them in all
> of ways. Fortunately we don't usually see the need to force them to do
> things they don't want to do (well, I guess we do sometimes), and we
> resist giving them grades on their efforts.
> Why wouldn't subsequent learning be the same way? The adult might make
> suggestions which the child would be free to take or let go. I do
> understand that there could easily be a problem with the adult not being
> with a suggestion being let go, but if one was careful not to let that
> happen, why isn't that ok? Couldn't it be like recommending a book to a
>'s up to her whether she reads it or not?
> OK, enlighten me everyone. Thanks.
> Liz