Re: DSM: public school prisons (sharing the SVS model, etc.)

Bruce Smith (
Thu, 9 Nov 2000 22:18:56 -0700


I don't want to be your enemy, or anyone else's. However, I am not inclined
to apologize for the force of my convictions. It is supremely frustrating
to talk across this paradigm gap, with people who don't fully grasp the
implications of a Sudbury perspective. But I hope we can converse, sharing
our differences honestly and openly without anyone being unduly offended.

<<Quitting, in mass, is not the answer as public school is the only option
most parents have.>>

Publicly-supported schools, yes. But why must we wait for real reform? Why
must we rationalize all that's wrong with public schools by saying that
it's all we have? If that's all we have, then I want something else!

<<Public schools serve a valuable public service by containing our children
while the parents work or play.>>

Containing? CONTAINING? Well, I think you hit the nail on the head. One of
public schools' prime functions surely is to warehouse children so that we
adults can go about our business undisturbed.

<<I humbly disagree with Bruce Smith's view when he suggests that there is
an enemy...One size does not fit all. (Does that sound familiar?)>>

My "enemy" is not public education per se, but the fossilized,
hyper-institutionalized, authoritarian version that now exists. As I said
before, I do not consider those who work in that system the enemy, but
everything they do that doesn't undermine the enemy, *that* is what bothers

If people freely chose traditional education, as you say vouchers will one
day enable them to do, then by all means, let them. Nowhere have I stated
(or implied, I believe) that Sudbury is a one-size-fits-all alternative. I
agree that there are students and families who don't, and would not, choose
it. Fine. My concern is that the traditionally-schooled don't even _have_
that choice (or many others of substance).

I am also greatly concerned that so many individuals within traditional
schooling either don't see its faults, or don't think those faults call for
radical action.

<<I strongly believe that the public school system is excellent at what it

That's the problem, allright. :)

<<What is wrong is that it is the ONLY FREE educational option for most of
our citizens.>>

I strongly agree.

>The question that I think is important for you to answer is what picture would
>you paint on an empty canvas that, when you step back from and look at it,
>you pure joy ! Paint it, then build it in reality :)

This is precisely what _I_ have attempted to do by becoming involving in
Sudbury schools. Agreed, it's hardly the only canvas or painting. But it's
a damn good one, all the same.

Thanks for your post, John.



"Education is identical with helping the child realize his potentialities.
The opposite of education is manipulation, which is based on the absence of
faith in the growth of potentialities, and on the conviction that a child
will be right only if the adults put into him what is desirable and
suppress what seems to be undesirable. There is no need of faith in the
robot, since there is no life in it either."

                           Erich Fromm, _The Art of Loving_

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