Re: DSM: Ambition and Humility
Sun, 19 Nov 2000 14:46:30 EST

Dear Rick,

Thank you and the other founders for starting San Vicente in Silver City.

I think the interesting question is what are the necessary and sufficient
conditions for creating a Sudbury Valley? A condition is necessary if we
would not have a Sudbury Valley without it. And a condition is sufficient if
we will have a Sudbury Valley if we have the condition.

I believe there are two necessary conditions and having them both is a
sufficient condition.

Necessary condition #1
I believe the physical plant must be somewhat well located and be valued in
the single digit millions.

Necessary condition #2
I believe a deep and profound regard must be offered to the child for a
significant length of time. I believe 30 years would be a significant amount
of time.

1) I do realize that this formulation is conservative and may be too general
and vague to be of much value.
2) It seems that long before the culture generates much traction the physical
plant stands as a silent expression of how much the child is valued. Remember
that in the late 60's and early 70's there were hundreds of "free schools".
The majority of them did not however have 13 acres, a pond, a mansion, a barn
and access to a large area of forested woods.
3) The culture is generated and lived by the children and the staff. The
parents will have some knowledge of the theory, but the physical plant will
offer the one tangible expression of what might be possible for their child.
4) To a large extent, early recruitment will be a function of the physical
5) Of course condition #1 is not sufficient, by itself, because there are
lots of places where children go that have substantial physical plants and
there are not lots of Sudbury Valleys.
6) This formulation might take on it's maximum value, if we consider all the
things it considers not necessary.
    This formulation considers the following not necessary:
     a) the notion that it is a school (yes, I know, I don't have a name for
it either)
     b) the notion that it is about education
     c) the notion that it requires an attendant morality to explain,
justify, or defend it
     d) any testing or measurement (including diplomas)
7) The point of this formulation is that if we can reduce Sudbury Valley to
it's necessary and sufficient conditions then we can build these things with
focus on these conditions and therefore we can build them much faster and
with a greater success rate.
8) Of course there are interesting thought experiments, like could it be done
for 500K in15 years, how bout a mobile home in six months.

Please, as always, if these ideas are not useful, just forget them

Bill Richardson

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