DSM: Re: role of parents

Kristin Harkness (kristin@harkness.net)
Thu, 14 Dec 2000 10:39:23 -0500

I am going to gingerly try to address this one, since I have never been
staff at a Sudbury model school, and since many folks who I admire are, and
either have children enrolled now or did so in the past. I believe that the
concern arises for children of staff as they get older and begin to use
their independence and test limits.

Home (while children are children) can never be fully democratic. As
parents, we have the responsibility to keep our children safe. No matter
how much freedom we cede to our children (and yes, I believe that in the
family it is not theirs by right but by gift) there are times when the
rubber hits the road, and parents must exert their authority.

School, when one's parents are not present, is a different matter. There,
one is free, and one has rights, and one has responsibilities, and one is
held accountable by one's peers. Do the crime, do the time. Figure out how
to function in a community. Make mistakes. Grow.

When one's parent or parents are at school, however, I think there is the
possibility that the home dynamic can interfere with the school dynamic.
The extent to which this happens is likely dependent on the individual
parents/children involved.

I asked my daughter her opinion and she said: "I think it's up to the child.
When you're little it's kind of cool, you know, it's easier to arrange
sleep-overs and stuff. But when you get older you want your privacy."

Kristin Harkness

-----Original Message-----
From: Allan Saugstad <asaugstad@vsb.bc.ca>
To: discuss-sudbury-model@aramis.sudval.org
Date: Wednesday, December 13, 2000 5:25 PM
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
>workings here, I am very inspired by the sudbury model and am making plans
>open my own democratic school.
>I have heard a couple of you say that they are uncomfortable with the idea
>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
>This I can accept and will not challenge in my children.
>My community of friends all want to stay involved in their childrens'
>We imagine establishing an "extended family" community, where our children
>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
>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
>be little need to structure opening hours of our "school" because learning
>of course, happen all day long, every day. Together we hope to learn from
>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,
>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,
>supporting, living, and learning alongside one another; children, adults,
>So what do you think of this? I have a hard time figuring out how this fits
>the sudbury model.
>Please feel free to be critical. I rely on your advice in the pursuit of my

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