DSM: Aloof, & free to be stupid

Robert Swanson (robertswanson@icehouse.net)
Tue, 14 Nov 2000 21:25:50 -0800

Intellectually it is fairly easy to draw lines and say that the students are
left alone at Sudbury schools. That is the majority of our intent and so the
intellect decides this is what is so. Not really. Wouldn't it be an
interesting experiment if adults stopped showing up at school during
regular hours, and instead did administrative work at home or after hours.
And kids had to call them to school to teach when needed. What would happen
to the school culture?

I don't know, I just imagine a strong background influence keeping the
current culture in place. This influence may be mostly in two aspects. One,
spending most hours aloof from student activities may imply age
differentiation or descrimination. Two, by just being around the school the
adults are mentoring during any real or implied contact. Many things could
be modeled: dress, languaging, temperment, promptness, emotional expression
(or lack of), various interests and disinterests, playfulness or lack of,
vitality or lack of. One SVS student commented that "adults seem so tired
and slow". This is poor mentoring. Note that the students expressed much
enthusiasm for contact with the SVS cook. She had food as reinforcement for
her mentoring. She was valued for her verbal behaviors - invitations to
participate, and speaking to the language and variety of interests of
students. She got involved. Thus, she was treasured for not being aloof.
Another teacher, one who kept to herself, often reading, was on the hit list
for not being re-elected. Teachers are expected to appear useful. So, here
are indicators that students are not left alone. I suspect the influence is
much stronger than anyone suspects. It may not all be bad. It could be
influencing greater self-respect and sense of fairness.

I am very interested in whether this assumed freedom really does potentiate
the more interesting possibilities. The one I harp on most is the exchange
of cerebrum for intellect. We use ten percent of higher brain function just
because intellect does not think it cosher to have feelings guide human
development and standards. On the other hand, it seems that if feelings
guided development brain function and creatvity would be astoundingly

People not allowed to develop two-thirds of their brain are not free. They
are not developing. The education model intended to potentiate students has
failed miserably. The intellectual assumption that what is so (lack of brain
function) is normal can be nothing but insanity. That mentors actively allow
this disfunction by not adressing it would be unthinkable to an intelligent,
caring human. By remaing aloof from the students we don't directly degrade
them, yet we still mentor a status quo acceptance of humanity as duly
imbecilic. Passive cruelty is acceptable. Avoidence is a strength to

I enjoy replying,

on 11/13/00 6:51 AM, Rick Stansberger at rickstan@zianet.com wrote:

> Robert, please don't take this personally, but I'm wondering if building a
> Heartlight school is the first time you've ever gotten passionately involved
> in the
> exploration of anything. I think it might be. The reason I say this is that
> you
> seem to be missing a key concept about sudschools -- you don't seem to get the
> full
> effect of just letting people alone to do what they want. That seems static
> or
> ineffectual to you. Correct me if I'm wrong.
>> Still,
>> I suspect that development at SVS is simply WHAT IS SO and thus what SHOULD
>> be. Yes, they are paying attention to human development. But is there more?
> Robert, if you had ever pursued a passion of your own outside the confines of
> school
> (and maybe you have but haven't examine it), you'll notice that "what is so"
> is
> where you begin. And once you're firmly rooted in what is so, you start on a
> wild,
> unpredictable ride of evolution, going in directions you couldn't have
> guessed.
> What was so: My wife, Kate, was teaching in rural Kentucky and got stuck in
> her
> trailer for a week during a blizzard. To keep herself warm, she started
> making a
> quilt.
> What happened: She became a prize-winning quilter, nationally recognized for
> her
> work.
> What was so: My Mom made me take typing lessons when I was 12. Tired of
> practicing
> the stupid exercises in the book, I started making things up, and did my
> practicing
> out of my head. When I was 15, a poem of mine was published in a national
> anthology.
> Sure, we started in response to constraints, but the little bit of freedom we
> had
> was enough to take off.
> It seems to me that you greatly undervalue the power of just leaving people
> alone,
> and I suspect it comes from your lack of a "hobby," or maybe from not looking
> at
> what you do when you do your hobby. I'm not trying to be personal. I'm just
> trying
> to understand why you don't get how powerful the sudschool model is, and you
> keep
> looking for structures and systems to help kids.
> There already is an evolutionary system in place in every human being: it's
> called
> the brain. It's more complex and powerful than any system we have yet managed
> to
> devise. It fulfills the two requirements for any evolutionary system:
> mutation and
> selection. it mutates ideas by changing them around and it selects by
> matching
> ideas up with desires. You don't need anything else.
> Your WHAT IS is several billion brain cells in the most highly organized
> configuration known to man. Don't discount Brother Brain, my friend.
> Rick
>> What if school was about the evolution of development? What if a singular
>> idea does not contain all possibilities? What if it was not scary to KNOW
>> THYSELF? Then we could play with who I am in relation to a changing,
>> developing environment and personal relationships. Rather than reacting to
>> these things, we strive to realize them as toys of perception. No doubt, SVS
>> is already going in this direction allowing children the freedom to find
>> themselves. Now, what if there is also a procedure to finding and developing
>> self? What if this procedure is part of natural development but is not
>> included in the SVS model? Joseph Pearce said the quality of models is
>> essential to development (creative, open hearted models). If models at SVS
>> (& home) are deliberately absent as intentional influences in children's
>> lives then they have omitted an essential element from development. Now, it
>> is also true that Pearce did not get it all in one idea. So the real
>> question is whether we are willing to belittle fear, ignorance and doubt,
>> and then, laughing, explore the possibilities for evolution.
>> I simply do not appreciate sitting on one clump of grass when there is a
>> whole countryside to explore.
>> happily romping,
>> robert
>> on 11/12/00 7:43 PM, Rick Stansberger at rickstan@zianet.com wrote:
>>> I mean what's the difference between "human development" and "the evolution
>>> of
>>> developing human potential"? they sound the same to me, but you have them
>>> listed
>>> as points 2 and 3 respectively.
>>> Rick
>>> Robert Swanson wrote:
>>>> on 11/11/00 2:39 PM, Rick Stansberger at rickstan@zianet.com wrote:
>>>>> What's the difference between 2) and 3)?
>>>>> Rick
>>>> Learning, as presented in public school, emphasizes intellect. Because
>>>> other
>>>> aspects of development are not reinforced adequately, development is
>>>> largely
>>>> left at the three to four year level. Essentially, this is non-development.
>>>> The Sudbury difference is that it allows development through play,
>>>> exploration, communication, sexuality, self-determination, friendship,
>>>> joy...
>>>> robert
>>>>> Robert Swanson wrote:
>>>>>> I'd like to suggest three paradigms:
>>>>>> 1) School is about learning (public school)
>>>>>> 2) School is about human development (SVS)
>>>>>> 3) School is about the evolution of developing human potential (wisdom
>>>>>> school)
>>>>>> The idea of learning THINGS is so big in our society it seems to cast a
>>>>>> shadow over human development. We put as a second consideration the
>>>>>> character development of an individual.
>>>>>> Dr. Melvin Morse (who writes about NDE's of children) said school
>>>>>> emphasizes
>>>>>> the left side of the brain. It does so by emphasizing verbal activity.
>>>>>> Words
>>>>>> keep us busy accessing the past and future. On the other hand, the right
>>>>>> lobe of the brain is timeless and nonverbal. Its communication is focused
>>>>>> on
>>>>>> feelings, intuition and depth perception. Right lobe communication
>>>>>> references the broader environment.
>>>>>> When we get out of the intellect, it is not a question discerning this
>>>>>> one
>>>>>> thing is right and that one thing is wrong and here we sit. Rather,
>>>>>> feelings
>>>>>> are concerned with how much happier do we want to evolve right now. Life
>>>>>> is
>>>>>> a continuum of creativity and choice.
>>>>>> robert
> --
> "Weirdness abounds and shatters our illusion of order. Heh-heh. All the
> dust is being blown out from under the carpet. Wonderful stuff!"
> Wanda Hamilton-Quinn

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