Re: DSM: Sudbury Schools - Summerhill

Scott Gray (
Wed, 27 Oct 1999 13:02:48 -0400 (EDT)

Let me see if I can describe why some people on this board think that what
you are proposing is in conflict with the Sudbury model.

If the "we" choosing are the individuals themselves, within the context
of choosing things that will not infringe on the rights of the community
or others (e.g. having hashish brownies for lunch would endanger the
community, and having meals that are likely to create a mess of crumbs to
ruin the carpets which the community pays for and so could infringe on the
rights of the community), then it is in accordance with what most Sudbury
schools do. If the "we" choosing are the founders, who set something in
motion which the day-to-day members of the school community are
coerced/cajoled/forced to go along with, then it sounds less like a
Sudbury school to some people.

A school which is run by a founders group is Democratic, insofar as the
founders each have full rights to vote -- that is to say, it is an
oligarchy. A school in which the majority feels justificed in limiting
individual choice without cause is democratic. However, the way in which
many people define the term "Sudbury model" is not simply by giving
sovereignty to the School Meeting, but in declaring that the STUDENT is
sovereign over her/his own life, and that the School Meeting has
sovereignty in cases where individual rights come into conflict (i.e.
your sovereignty ends where a choice you make might endanger another
individual or the community).

Another issue which is important to most Sudbury schools, is that their
schools not in any way act as filters, to keep out elements of the wider
culture. If eating nacho-cheesier-flavored doritos is a common and
accepted thing in the culture, most Sudbury schools would feel remiss in
preventing people from engaging in that most normal of activities. A
Sudbury school education means, to most people, being steeped in the free
market of ideas and being made TOTALLY RESPONSIBLE for oneself in that

At Sudbury Valley, we have had a smoking area lo these many years, because
of a demand for it, because the dangers (TO THE INSTITUTION, not to the
individuals) seemed bearable, because we seem to be able to control
sencond-hand smoke, and because smoking was (in the 1960s-1970s) a
thoroughly accepted part of the community at large. Though privately, I
may think it is a mistake to take up the habit of smoking, and will freely
say this as a private individual, it seems wrong for the INSTITUTION to
prevent smoking without cause. Now the political climate is changing, and
perhaps in a few years Sudbury Valley will decide to close on-campus
smoking; but it will NOT be in order to protect the students from
themselves -- if students needed that kind of protection they shouldn't be
enrolled in a school where they are totally responsible for their own

On Wed, 27 Oct 1999, Debbie Athos wrote:

> Hello ?,
> "We" would be our founders group and "Yes" all of these people eat what we
> consider "quality" foods. So obviously we will attract families who want
> this for their children. As I said we would advertise that we serve healthy
> meals - and we will set our tuition to cover the cost. It's very simple and
> with all good intentions.
> If someone wants to open a democratic style school that serves healthy
> meals - why do you think that means giving up your freedom of choice if your
> family chose to attend that school knowing what was for lunch??
> I'm sure that there are plenty of Sudbury schools where the original
> founders designed the school to incorporate some of things that they wanted
> in a school. I want my kids to education to be in their hands and I want
> them to eat good quality foods. If the kids enjoy their meal and it's made
> with ingredients that our group decided are "top quality" what's the
> problem?
> All apples are not created equal!~ And it is a choice to choose what "we"
> as a "group" want for our school meals.
> deb:)
> From: <>
> To: <>
> Date: Tuesday, October 26, 1999 10:27 PM
> Subject: Re: DSM: Sudbury Schools - Summerhill
> ><< We will choose products that have the least sugar, chemicals,
> >
> >colorings, preservatives, which is when I use the word "quality". >>
> >
> >Who is "we"?

--Scott David Gray
reply to:

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