RE: DSM: Ambition and Humility

Joe Jackson (
Sun, 19 Nov 2000 22:28:17 -0500

> > Further, we believe that an environment of free
> > choice helps kids become self-reliant, independent and strong -
> and, most 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 kids'
> > 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 strong -
> and, most of
> all, happy"?

"Self-reliant, independent and strong" is the antithesis of "a certain way".
"A particular way" e.g. "being able to recite certain information" is what
conventional schools are about.

(When other schools talk about teaching kids to be "self-reliant,
independent and strong" it's b.s. I played a gig two days ago at a middle
school where they had signs on the wall in the cafeteria reading, "This
week, we are learning about _respect_. Teachers, please write below the
names of students who have demonstrated this important quality."
Unbelievable to those with no faith in the system to use human relations
principles as a weapon, believable to those of us who do.)

> 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?

While the dual application of the word "faith" is not analogous here in
terms of the motivation or intent behind it, my answer to what I think you
intend is:

"Faith" in our students to learn what they need to learn while at Fairhaven
is, according to my experiences and knowledge of the last 30+ years of the
model, a wisely-held faith, while:

"Faith" that individual employees and parents in conventional schools will
long-term fix the American education system would be, according to my
experiences and knowledge of the last one-hundred fifty years of educational
reform, a foolishly-held faith.

In addition, I don't think the "honesty" of people really plays an issue

I guess I don't see the equation being as complex as most of the other folks
on this list. To wit:

1) The American educational system is a massive organization that
quintessentially represents the attributes of large organizations as
described by author Robert Pirsig, that is that it can be characterized as a
large creature whose needs and behaviors do not represent the needs and
behaviors of any of its members, and that it is incapable of substantial

2) Hard work and commitment by good people for the system may create
localized short-term benefits, but generally strengthens the system.

Yes, there are a million shades of gray within the education system, but no,
it just doesn't matter. There are "pockets" of Sudbury-like
mini-environments in public schools. But students in these schools are
transients, and will soon be advanced out of these "oases" of
Sudbury-like-ness, and the harm, by God, will be done!

My reaction? I will not lift a finger to actively hurt the conventional
school system, and I will not use an ounce of energy to support it - my
energy and skill is needed to support Sudbury Schools.

I don't begrudge people that work for other schools. I don't really care
that much about other schools - I'm not going to preemptively attack or try
and take them down. But I'm not going to support them or affirm those that

I won't hesitate to state how conventional schools lack, and I hope we can
all tell (maybe starting now?) the difference between saying what you think
and attacking something. I will actively defend Fairhaven against
government attacks that might occur on behalf of conventional schools, and I
agree with (was it Dawn?) that there is lots of potential for that in terms
of the court system.

-Joe Jackson, from Scranton PA
please note my new email address:
Kids rule at Fairhaven School

> > 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 view
> > 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?
> > Good
> > intentions can not be allowed to overrule people's innate right
> to freedom
> > just because those people happen to be kids. Possibly the worst
> schools are
> > those whose keepers are most convinced of the purity of their
> goals for the
> > kids.
> >
> Rick
> San Vicente Sudbury School
> Silver City, NM

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