RE: DSM: Sudbury Valley/Summerhill

Joe Jackson (
Wed, 21 Oct 1998 23:51:47 -0400

> Joe -
> What's your basis for concluding that "folks in our
> traditional schools who are considered 'highly skilled teachers'
> are doing such an inferior job of 'teaching'"?
> Sharon

Let me start out by saying that I don't even agree with what they set out
to accomplish, which is completely aside from the fact that they are not
accomplishing it and will not be able to accomplish it.

In a culture and an age where it is commonly acknowledged that the last
true generalist lived over a hundred years ago (John Stuart Mill), our
schools are actually trying to train our children to be generalists. They
are taught split infinitives, tribal culture of Borneo, the composition of
the planet Saturn, the circle of fourths, and the periodic table of the
elements. They are teaching trivia, and they are teaching it in a random
order that has nothing to do with the individual child. In addition, they
absolutely won't allow the child to dwell on a subject for more than, say,
50 minutes.

A big thing that schools won't teach is what kids can do with their anger
at being treated like second-class citizens, locked up and told what to
learn for their entire childhood. I used to see that anger every day and I
mistakenly thought it was because of their home life -- it wasn't, it was
because of their school life.

Some things they do teach is indifference, short attention span,
intellectual dependency, and how to stand in line. Some things that
schools don't teach well are social intelligence, inventiveness,
self-reliance, entrepaneurism, and respect for democracy, because none of
that stuff ever happens in a traditional school. They might talk about it,
but they don't _have_ it.

So what's my basis for concluding that are schools are doing a bad job?
 I'm not going to site statistics about the literacy rate or test scores,
because for one, I don't want to play the statistics game, and two, the
equation is way too complex to draw conclusions from statistics. My
personal experiences are enough: in public school as a student, with my
children and other children, other parents, and schools I've worked in. My
conclusion certainly seems to bear out among the 1.5 million families of
home schooled children in the US; as well as the droves of families in the
Washington DC area paying $10 large a year for private school in vain.


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