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

Joe Jackson (
Tue, 21 Nov 2000 17:38:52 -0500

> You don't find borderline people who could become sudburians with a little
> patience and care? Or people who could be kept in the model with
> the same? It
> really is a yes-no kind of thing? If so, what do you think it is
> that made the
> yesses yesses? Were they born that way? Did something happen in
> childhood? If
> so, there ought to be a demographic profile for these kinds of
> folks, but I've
> read (_Starting a Sudbury School_) that there isn't a way to
> predict what places
> will support sudschools.

**WARNING this message gets into the weeds in terms of school operations, so
it's a bit off-topic in terms of talking about the model**

Well, unlike before we opened, when we actually got moving on the school we
discovered that we just didn't have time anymore to chase after people who,
in retrospect, were much more likely not pan out.

I think you're asking the question in a philosophical sense, but that's a
real nuts & bolts kind of issue once you're operating. So I can't really
address what you're saying in a philosophical sense. I can only tell you
that it became completely evident to me, once the school was running, that
the intense need for my energies was in making the school viable for the
students and parents that NEEDED to be there.

In other words, we need to focus as much of our available non-staffing time
and energy on working towards school PR of great BREADTH, not DEPTH because,
as I have said, spending time trying to draw in a few individuals benefits
the school (and the students) profoundly less than getting the word and
education out there as broadly as possible so that the people that NEED us
can find out we exist.

In fact one admissions concept that's very important (but hard to grasp
before you open) is making the admissions process HARD so that you're sure
that the family HAS TO be there.

Our school is very strong by and large because 80% of the staff, parents and
students in the school NEED to be there. Up until now, most of our students
have gotten here through word of mouth, but the approach I am talking about
has applied in the vast majority of the student body - our incredibly strong
school "core" consists of people who found out about it, asked the questions
and did the research, and became intensely devoted to (sometimes obsessed
with) it.

(We do however recognize that there are varying "stages" and "degrees" of
trust and comfort parents have in the model and the school, and I know
Fairhaven staff and parents go to great care to recognize that and give
those parents support. One example is our Talkabouts, which is a monthly
discussion group intended as a place for people to express any reservations
about the school and it's happenings as well as discussion of specific
philosophical issues. But it seems like this year, with our strong orthodox
core group comprising such a large percentage of the school, the group feels
like everyone "preaching to the choir" for most of the meeting, which feels
kind of strange. But it's there if folks need/want it.)

-Joe J.
please note my new email address:
Kids rule at Fairhaven School

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