Re: DSM: re: tuition, curricula, et al

Scott David Gray (
Mon, 02 Oct 2000 20:58:16 -0400

I don't have any particular interest in playing word games
over this. :-) Your use of the word is fine, and indeed that
is not the way I was using the term. A couple thoughts,

1. "student-led curricula" seems to me an even more confusing
term. It implies (to my ears) a bunch of students voting on
_which_ kind of curriculum they _all_ will follow. That, as
you know, is not an accurate description of Sudbury Valley.

2. I think that most people, when they hear the word
curriculum, think something closer to the way I used the word
in my message*. And since the point of language is to be
understood by the maximum number of people, I think I will
keep using the term that way.

*Merriam-Webster Collegiat Dictionary, 10th edition sez: 1:
the courses offered by an educational institution 2: a set of
courses constituting an area of specialization.

When used in a specific context (e.g. "the curriculum of the
Sudbury Valley School") the term strongly implies that the
course of study is determined and owned by the _school_ rather
than being seperately owned by each individual who happens to
have some relationship with the school (and, in fact, the use
of the definite article implies that there is _one_ curriculum
that is applied to all persons in Sudbury Model schools). In
addition, the term "curriculum" also implies that the course
of study is thought through in advance (as though SVS students
chat with an advisor at the beginning of each term and set
their educational goals for themselves as they do in many
schools, rather than learning simply by living in the context
of a caring community).

And, certainly, when the question was first asked ("what is
Sudbury Valley's Curriculum?") the term was meant as "what
specific things does the school expect students to have
learned by the end of their course of study?" -- the person
was asking about a different phenomenon than is covered by
your definition of "curriculum," and so I tried to write an
answer to that person's question. :-)

Take care,

Rhonda wrote:
> Sudbury schools have no curriculum, and to my
> > knowledge are the only schools in the world that reject the concept of
> > curricula
> Scott,
> It seems as though the meaning behind your definition of 'curricula'
> connotes coercion based on hierarchal power and unearned authority. From my
> experience teaching in the mainstream, as well as listening to the reports
> of young people 'studenting' in the mainstream, this version of the
> definition reflects reality well.
> Another way to define 'curricula' is simply what is studied, interests
> pursued, passions followed, learning emerged. In my view, the Sudbury
> Valley model of learning is an exceptional model of curricula that evolves
> in a chosen and humane context. This is a model of shared and individual
> power in the balance. This is a model where authority is genuinely earned.
> This is a model where learning happens in a natural and affective manner.
> The Sudbury Valley model may very well be inadvertently challenging the
> negative connotations developed around the word 'curricula', reestablishing
> the value and purity of the word. Sudbury schools are immersed in
> student-led curricula, as opposed to the kind of forced, rigid, uniform
> curricula which has emerged in the mainstream.
> Rhonda

--Scott David Gray
reply to:
I profoundly believe it takes a lot of practice to become a
moral slob.

-- William F. Buckley ============================================================

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b3 on Wed Oct 04 2000 - 07:08:13 EDT