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


Sugmapl@aol.com
Mon, 13 Nov 2000 23:04:47 EST


Dear Scott,

Thank you for your response.

> Bill,
> Why would I, or anyone, ever waste any time building something that
> cannot be explained or defended?

Because it is not a waste of time to build a Sudbury Valley. There are many
children that can make extremely valuable use of an institution whose
singular offering is that it respects them. And yes, Sudbury Valley can be
explained and defended. But such explanation and defense is a waste of time.
It is the discourse of victims. It throws away power and energy. It pleads
for some external justification. It also places Sudbury Valley in opposition
to other types of schooling. I don't believe Sudbury Valley is in opposition
to any other type of schooling. I don't believe Sudbury Valley is a school. I
don't believe it is about education. I believe Sudbury Valley is about the
freedom of children. I believe it has prooved itself to be about the freedom
of children by offering them a deep and profound regard. They will use this
regard to become free, to become persons. They will not use this regard to
become right. This is how I believe that Sudbury Valley is beyond right and
wrong.

   
> If I felt that Sudbury Schools were no better than traditional schools,
> I guarantee you that I would _not_ spend so much time and energy working
> on building them. I would spend no time or energy at all.

As I said above, I don't think Sudbury Valley is better that traditional
schools. I don't think Sudbury Valley is in opposition to traditional
schools. I don't think Sudbury Valley is a school. I think Sudbury Valley is
doing something completely different, and possibly something completely
unique. In mathematics there is a concept called "neatness". A solution can
be shown to be "neat" if it can actually be shown that there is no more
optimal or better solution. There may in fact be nothing more useful to a
child than respect. It may be little early to tell, but Sudbury may be "neat".

> Personally, I think it is pretty irresponsible to _ever_ do _anything_
> without stopping to consider whether or not the action to be taken is
> right.

Build Sudbury Valleys or not. I only state that if we agree to build them,
the work will go easier and much faster if we decline to build a morality
along with them. As Daniel Greenburg says: if they see it they see it, if
they don't they don't. As we decline to teach, I certainly suggest we decline
to preach.
  

> I do not know where the notion comes from that a belief in freedom must
> lead to a rejection of concepts of right and wrong. Right and wrong is
> the daily bread of a free people, and probably is harder (and more
> dangerous) to avoid in a free society than in any other environment. The
> School Meeting must constantly consider (often from first principles) the
> question of how to proceed on various real issues, and makes those
> decisions based upon both factual and ethical considerations.
> The School Meeting considers issues of right and wrong when it decides
> under exactly what terms individuals are exempted from testifying in the
> Judicial Committee. The School Meeting considers issues of right and
> wrong when it decides on what Judicial philosophy will inform sentencing
> in the school. The School Meeting considers issues of right and wrong
> when it sets up tuition loan and tuition payment plan programs. The
> School Meeting considers issues of right and wrong when it decides under
> what terms students can sell wares within the school.
> I have been a student, Trustee, and staff member at Sudbury Valley. I
> have never encountered anything in the model which implies the moral
> relativism which your posts suggest is a feature of Sudbury Model schools.
> The Sudbury model suggests pluralism; this means that the school protects
> the right of individuals within the school to hold whatever opinions they
> wish. But this does not excuse the school community as a whole from the
> burden of recognizing that moral considerations inform many of its
> decisions.

I believe that the community has the right to norm itself as it chooses.
Since I believe the essential description of the work is "freeing slaves", I
certainly feel that the community can decide how and with which "slaves" it
will work. I say this as clearly as I can, the community has the right to
norm itself as it sees fit. It can throw out whoever it sees fit to throw
out. But it would do well to unburdon itself from the notion that it is
somehow dealing in moral considerations. The work is deep powerful Rogerian
therapy. The method is a profound regard for the child. The outcomes are
never known but continuously created. It is just this creation that is the
true bread of freedom. Lots may happen. Never hope but only know this one
true thing: no one is ever really damaged.

As always, if these ideas are not useful, please just forget them.

Bill Richardson



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