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

Kristin Harkness (
Thu, 16 Nov 2000 10:16:35 -0500

>Here's why I resist making such a judgment: for 97% of all teachers and
>students in this country, traditional schools are pretty much the only game
>town. If you go up to a hard-working teacher and tell her that she's doing
>harm than good, you're telling her her life has been a waste. People have
>killed themselves over less. You don't attack an idea by attacking people.
>That's where inquisitions and purges always fail.

If something is true, should one refrain from saying it because it is
painful? Adults have choices (unlike children). I may question, even
criticize, what one chooses, but I hope that my comments are not perceived
as an attack. Every teacher is free to stay within the system or to leave
it, and I defend their right to choose even if I disagree with the choice
they make. No inquisitions or purges for me, thank you very much! My
postings here are merely an attempt to persuade those who are considering
this question to choose 'revolution' over 'reform'.

>Now it's my turn. Have you ever taught in a traditional school? If so,
>long? What was it like for you? Why did you leave?

I spent one year as a university TA. I don't think this qualifies me to
answer 'yes' to your question.

My experience with traditional schools was as a student. From 4th grade
through high school I attended schools which were strongly influenced by the
educational experimentation of the 1960s. There were some good things about
those schools. In grade school I had little homework and lots of time to
myself. In high school I had fewer requirements than I did when I got to
college! The curriculum was diverse and interesting (since teachers had so
few required courses, they could offer classes in their areas of interest).
it was very much like college, only in high school. Neither of those
schools is like that today. The educational direction in this country is
toward ever more homework, requirements, testing, regimentation and
conformity (not to mention see through backpacks and bar-coding students).
I recently attended my high school reunion. It was sad to see how few
choices students there have now. Mind, I would not choose either of those
schools for myself today, even if they were structured just as they had been
when I attended. I find the Sudbury model to be incomparably better.

For those who stay in the system today, with the prevailing educational
winds being what they are, the expectation should be that things will only
get worse. On the other hand, if all caring adults left the system en
masse, radical change would have to occur.

Kristin Harkness

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