DSM: RE: role of parents

Joe Jackson (shoeless@jazztbone.com)
Wed, 13 Dec 2000 20:00:55 -0500

Hi, Allan!

The arguments I have heard against having parents staff in the schools
mostly center around the idea that staff/parents have a built-in bias
towards/against their children and that their children have/are perceived to
have a different status as a result of being the children of staff. I am
not one that holds these opinions, perhaps someone who does can advance them
more effectively than I...

What I would like to say, however, is that every single Sudbury Model school
that I have ever heard of is mainly staffed by the parents of students or

As to the subject of lots of adults being involved at the school every day,
I think it becomes a difficult issue with regard to collegiality and
accountability. In other words, when there is a finite number of staff that
are all employees, all attend staff meetings, all have been elected by
school meeting and have all signed the same contracts, a collegiality
develops, a built-in ombudsman mechanism takes form, and it is easier to see
and feedback to one another as to how they are conducting themselves in the

When you have tons of adults showing up at the school, there is less
accountability to School Meeting and to the staff. This high degree of
adult involvement inevitably brings with it a barrage of interests, and
inevitably many of these adults conceivably would not "get" the model in a
way that would restrain them from introducing their interests in the culture
in an inappropriately preemptive manner.

It also screws up the culture to a degree. In the best functioning schools,
90% of the interaction is student-to-student - this is where the real
learning takes place. If you have a 20-student school where ten or twelve
adults are showing up every day, there's going to be an impact on the

Maybe by saying:

> My community of friends all want to stay involved in their
> childrens' education.
> We imagine establishing an "extended family" community,

You did not intend that there would be this many adults at school every day,
if not then never mind...

Good luck, and if you have any questions please post.

-Joe Jackson
Fairhaven School
Upper Marlboro, Maryland

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-discuss-sudbury-model@aramis.sudval.org
> [mailto:owner-discuss-sudbury-model@aramis.sudval.org]On Behalf Of Allan
> Saugstad
> Sent: Wednesday, December 13, 2000 5:14 PM
> To: discuss-sudbury-model@aramis.sudval.org
> Subject: DSM: role of parents
> Dear all,
> As a parent who has strived to raise two children (4 and 2) in a
> democratic
> household, and as a principal in a public school who can see the
> undemocratic
> workings here, I am very inspired by the sudbury model and am
> making plans to
> open my own democratic school.
> I have heard a couple of you say that they are uncomfortable with
> the idea of
> parents working in a sudbury school. I am having difficulty
> understanding this so
> I hope you will help me. I understand that many parents impose
> their own will and
> dreams upon their children; this I do not agree with. I also
> understand that the
> children may resent or dislike my involvement in their lives when
> they are older.
> This I can accept and will not challenge in my children.
> My community of friends all want to stay involved in their
> childrens' education.
> We imagine establishing an "extended family" community, where our
> children are
> free to learn and live whatever they choose. As a supportive
> family, we would all
> support them in their wishes and goals. We feel the strength of
> this model is
> that the family bond is maintained. There would be a natural
> respect and love for
> each of the children in the community as they pursue their
> interests. There would
> be little need to structure opening hours of our "school" because
> learning would,
> of course, happen all day long, every day. Together we hope to
> learn from each
> other and stay close to each other. Our hope is to give our children the
> opportunity to associate with and learn from whoever they choose;
> maybe us, maybe
> others in the community, and maybe others outside our community.
> Ultimately it's about more than just the kids. It's about all of
> us, together,
> supporting, living, and learning alongside one another; children,
> adults, and
> seniors.
> So what do you think of this? I have a hard time figuring out how
> this fits with
> the sudbury model.
> Please feel free to be critical. I rely on your advice in the
> pursuit of my
> dreams!!
> Allan

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