Re: DSM: Ambition and Humility
Sun, 19 Nov 2000 09:31:25 EST

In a message dated 11/18/00 8:24:16 PM Pacific Standard Time, writes:

> Joseph Moore wrote:
> > It's not a theoretical argument, at least not any more - people can
> compare
> > how a Sudbury schools works to how a traditional school works.
> Ah, but the comparison is not straightforward, since SVM schools don't
> You can possibly do a comparison after the kids leave, but that's a long
> time to
> wait, and what do you do with those independent souls who refuse to take
> test? Not easy to put this down on a graph and show the legislature.

It can be pretty straight-forward, if you choose some widely recognized
measures such as attending college, especially when adjusted for cost per
student. (Yea, that's pretty weak stuff compared to hard-to-quantify but
important things like happiness - but it beats hell out of
race-for-the-bottom measures like test scores.)

BTW, as a marketing tool, it would be cool to have a loooong list of
achievements by graduates, such as businesses started or positions reached,
degrees earned (yuk - but it would put some parents at ease) and millions
earned ;-). Some of this info is in the literature, but what would make a
great marketing brochure is a simple list people could take in at a glance
and take with them. Where I work, our best marketing piece is just a long
list of all the major companies that use our product - we're a tiny company,
so people naturally have misgivings - seeing all these *huge* household name
companies as our clients gives potential customers warm fuzzy feelings.
Seeing colleges and degrees they recognize might have the same effect on

Just a thought.
> > But there are
> > theoretical (or philosophical) considerations: It is essential to the
> model
> > that we have faith that kids will, if left free to do it, learn whatever
> > they feel is necessary.
> Exactly, and faith is a sort of inside v. outside thing. Faith can't be
> justified to those who don't have it, and it needn't be justified to those
> who
> do. How does one without faith get faith? It's pretty mysterious and
> highly
> individual.
It is weird that faith in one's own children should be hard to sell.
> > Further, we believe that an environment of free
> > choice helps kids become self-reliant, independent and strong - and,
> of
> > all, happy. Conversely, if you think it's the school's job to see to it
> that
> > kids turn out some particular way, you will end up infringing on the
> > innate freedom - and, if you lose that lesson, you've lost a major point
> of
> > the model.
> Forgive me if I see a paradox here. Don't SVM schools seek to see to it
> that
> kids turn out a certain way, too, i.e. "self-reliant, independent and
> -
> and, most of
> all, happy"?

We have a very general definition of success. Contrast this to test scores,
set curricula, and getting slotted into particular employment "opportunities"
- the paradox seems pretty small when put in concrete terms.
> > While on the one hand we want to change the world, on the other, we don't
> > presume to tell the kids how (or even if) they should go about changing
> > That's their call - as founders and parents, we want to give them a
> -
> > then humbly step aside so that they can take it.
> It is humbling to see people (kids or adults) take their lives into their
> own
> hands and make something spectacular and unpredictable out of them?
> Do you think that the same faith we have in SVM kids we could have in the
> parents and teachers who are honestly searching for a better way?
I think it's the "honestly" part that gets people bent out of shape. One the
one hand, who are we to challenge someone's heart? On the other, how can
people "honestly" look at what goes on in the name of education and see no
evil? Or, even weirder, people can come by a democratic school, talk to the
kids, see what goes on, and "honestly" say it doesn't "work" - huh? There's a
time to listen and a time to speak - which is which is tough.
> > So, in this sense, we oppose any plans that start out with a pre-
> determined
> > view of how kids should turn out when properly educated, whether that
> > is of good little consumers and workers (factory schools) or some sort of
> > metaphysically enlightened bodhisattvas, or any place between.
> Well said. May I quote you to our founders group?


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