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

Eduardo Cortina (
Tue, 14 Nov 2000 10:46:02 -0500

Hey, I wanted to jump into this exchange if its ok. Just had a couple
thoughts I'd like to share. See below
On Mon, 13 Nov 2000 23:04:47 EST writes:
> 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.
> I understand your point, but we all have an internal value register.
Without it we would be in big trouble. This is sort of obvious to say,
but perhaps it needs saying. We have experiences or outcomes that
produce a high value response from ourselves and things that produce a
low value response. I think the dilema with using the words right and
wrong has more to do with our interpretations of our experiences rather
than the actual experience. For example, someone might enjoy sex but
have beliefs and ideas about it that make it a wrong thing rather than
something that is right or good. It also works the other way, a
terrorist might not enjoy killing (in the actual moments that it is being
done) but may consider it a good and right thing because of there belief
in (fill in the blank). Our system is very intelligent, and generally
gives us accurate responses based on what we up to or things we
experience. It is our beliefs that don't match our experiences that make
high value things wrong and low value things right.
> > 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".

Still, aren't you saying that putting a child in a Sudbury environment
rather than a school tends to lead to a higher value response (from that
child and perhaps others).

> > 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.
> We could change right here to higher value. People who support public
schools would also consider their actions right, but of course my
opinion, and I think you might agree with me Scott, is they have many
misconceptions (beliefs that don't match reality) about how children
learn and grow into happy, and dare I say productive members of society.
They also seem to have difficulty looking at the actual outcomes and
questioning themselves in a way which may lead to discover that they do
have some misconceptions. Either that or they are satisfied with the
> 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 don't think its about preaching. It's about saying hey, here is
another way. Lets take a look at the results it produces versus the
traditional model. It's about debating in a rational, scientific way.
We want x result. Lets take a look at the actual results a Sudbury
environment produces vs. a school environment.
> > 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.

I think it is harder to be become misconcieved in a free environment,
because you won't have people telling you that what you are up to is
wrong when your own internal value register is saying, hey this is great!
(and vice-versa)

> > 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.
Well said
> 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.

But it is. Everyone has that internal value register. And everyone
interprets their experiences and labels them as good, bad, right and
wrong. There is no way to get away from this. Its just the way humans
work. The problems come in when our beliefs mismatch with the reality
of our experience. This gets more complicated when a belief and actions
around it produce initially a high value response-- taking drugs for
example and then later produce a low value response-- poor health, etc...
  The same could be said about the degradation of the environment.

In public schools children are taught to disregard their actual
experience of things and adopt belief systems which contradict their
internal registry. Over time most bend to the pressure and end up with a
debauched system. Even in a sudschool you may have rules and regulations
(that at least kids have a say in) that would not be in place in an ideal
(where poeples interpretation system was had a very high level of
accuracy) world, but are necessary to protect the school from the larger
communities ideas and beliefs of right and wrong. In the end of course,
the rules may produce a better outcome-- the school continues operatiing.

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.

Had trouble following this, Bill. What the heck is Rogerian therapy? >
> As always, if these ideas are not useful, please just forget them.
> Bill Richardson

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