Re: DSM: Ambition and Humility

Rick Stansberger (
Sun, 19 Nov 2000 13:18:47 -0700

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

It's a good thing I don't believe you. Ain't no way we're gonna get up a mill
for a physical plant, pardner. Heck, we couldn't even rob a bank -- they ain't
got that kinda cash on hand around here.

> Notes:
> 1) I do realize that this formulation is conservative and may be too general
> and vague to be of much value.

Actually I'm hoping it's too specific and too lavish.

> 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.

Well, maybe if you mean ONE school like that somewhere that we can point to --
OK. But democracy and self-reliance are ideas that didn't even need covered
wagons to spread. The little one-room schoolhouses maybe only needed one Harvard
to point to Back East as the Temple of Learning, and the rest could go about
their hand pump and coal scuttle business.

> 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.

That makes SVs like the Cahtolic Saint on the holy card: somebody we can point
to to shwo it IS possible, though really most parishioners don't expect their
neighbors or even their priests to be exactly like that lady or man on the card
who let pagans rip out their eyeballs while they sang hymns or cracked jokes.

> 4) To a large extent, early recruitment will be a function of the physical
> plant.

Not in our case. Nobody here is Silver is under the illusion that we're gonna
grab one of the few ranch haciendas around here. The parents who are coming to
our meetings are sick of the kind of administration that worships brick and

> 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.

Not all sudschools are SVS, and that's a good thing, just as not all democracies
are the US -- or Switzerland or ancient Athens or modern Italy. That shows that
the idea travels well and adapts itself to differing circumstances. You couldn't
have the Middle Ages without castles, and that may have been their limiting
factor. If you can't have sudschools without a million dollar property, that
also will limit them.

I do agree with you that the spread of the sudbury model has to do with the
continued existence of SVS in Framingham. If THAT paragon were to close, the
movement, at this vulnerable early stage, would probably shut down. Once the
model decentralizes, it will be harder to kill. That's the phase we're in right
now -- the mother plant is sending out runners and the little plants are breaking
the surface.


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