Re: DSM: Getting it

Kristin Harkness (
Sun, 26 Nov 2000 21:40:03 -0500

Here are my personal opinions on your questions:

>I do have another question for you. It would seem that you
>value the aspirations of an individual to all professions equally.
>Do you also value the right of the child to grow up to be dependent
>on the state utilizing our excellent welfare system for life as one of
>my children has done?? Does not a school such as SV have some
>obligation to the other children in the school and society at large to
>at least make some attempt to ensure that students have the
>fundamentals needed to not be a burden on the rest
>of the students, and as they grow up the larger society?

Since the model values the right of the person to make her/his own choices,
it must value all freely chosen outcomes equally. Of course, individual
people who participate in Sudbury model schools do so based on their own
values, and they probably have decided opinions as to which outcomes are
preferable. It is hard to imagine that any student would aspire to be a
welfare recipient, or that any parent would want that for her/his child. It
is likely that people who consider this question explicitly in choosing a
school (I must admit that I did not) would tend to prefer schools which they
perceive to have a smaller likelihood of encouraging dependence on the
charity of the state.

As a practical matter, I find it hard to imagine that a person who spent a
significant portion of her/his childhood in a Sudbury model school would not
be self-supporting, unless due to illness, injury or some other event beyond
the individual's control. The school, by refusing to give direction, leaves
the student free to develop her or his own internal motivation. Students
must be independent, because there is nothing to be dependent upon. By
holding each person accountable for her or his actions, the school requires
personal responsibility. I think that people who are self-motivated and
independent with a sense of personal responsibility are those who are the
least likely to become dependent on welfare programs.

Your question assumes that a school could teach 'fundamentals needed not to
be a burden' -- could you elaborate on what you think those fundamentals
are, if I have not mentioned them above?

>It is somehow your premise that the individual has the right to grow
>up and starve to death and be homeless except for the generosity
>of an overtaxed society?? Or is the SV model basically a model
>based on socialistic principles?

I am curious as to where this comes from -- why do you ask if the model is
based on 'socialistic principles'? Has something in the literature caused
you to believe that this is so? It seems clear to me that the model is
based on democratic principles.

>Sorry if I sound a bit confused but as a new listener I am confused
>as to just what is the underlying political philosophy behind the school.

I do not think that there is a political philosophy behind the Sudbury model
beyond a belief in democracy and individual freedoms moderated by the rule
of law, which, in broad terms, is the political philosophy behind the United

Kristin Harkness

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