Re: DSM: all thumbs

John Axtell (
Sun, 26 Nov 2000 11:58:10 -0800


Would you be kind enough to post your article?

John Axtell

Michelle Patzke wrote:

> This is Michelle from Liberty Valley School, a Sudbury School near Chicago.
> I find it funny that I often do not read DSM messages because of time
> constraints, but this morning I clicked on this string and found a question
> on which I just wrote an article.
> As a staff member, I am often talking to parents about the possibility of
> enrolling their children in our school. Recently a scientist heard a
> report about us on Chicago Public Radio and called for information. I
> provided him with some basic information and a packet. A couple weeks
> later, I followed up with him by phone. He stated that both he and his
> teenage son thought if his son enrolled at LVS he "wouldn't learn anything."
> I spent a long time thinking about this. I found it incredible that a
> parent would have such low expectations of his own child. I ended up
> writing the article in response.
> It seems to me that the public school system is a reflection of our
> society. In both, it is assumed that experts know better. The logical
> inference that follow from that belief is that people do not know what they
> need or what is right for them so they need to ask others who know better
> to tell them. Obviously, this widespread social belief applies in spades
> for children who do not even have the experience that adults have.
> The logical next step is to create a schooling system, that supports this
> belief that others know better.
> It seems to me Sudbury Schools are based on the rather obvious notion that
> in the final anaylsis it is each individual alone who must make their life
> work. No one is going to do it for you. Now that can be seen as scary and
> a curse or as an exciting clean slate on which to build a life. The thing
> in life over which we have the most control is ourselves.
> Everything at Sudbury Schools supports this notion. If a person does
> something at a Sudbury School it occurs through their initiative. If the
> community moves forward it is because people within the community take
> responsibility for seeing that it does so.
> Public Schools start with, perpetuate and are devised on a negative
> assumption about children that unless experts tell them what, when and how
> to do something, they will fail, the answer is to look outside yourself.
> Sudbury Schools are based on a diametrically opposed viewpoint. Sudbury
> Schools provide an atmosphere that matter of factly says the answer is
> inside of you; your life is what you make it so what is it that you want;
> they provide the training ground for gaining the skills to learning how to
> make YOUR life work.
> I agree that raising children in a place of promise rather than defeat has
> a profound effect on the adults that they become. Perhaps some adults are
> too steeped in the traditional system and cannot let go for themselves or
> their children? Perhaps the consequences are too scary, overwhelming,
> depressing?
> Hope I did not get to preachy or esoteric.
> Michelle

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