DSM: Re: encouragement and the Sudbury model

CindyK (cindyk@unitz.on.ca)
Mon, 18 Dec 2000 09:55:27 -0500

Thanks Dan. This was a very enlightening and clarifying post. I appreciate
the time and effort it took.

Always learning,

----- Original Message -----
From: <Dannyasher@aol.com>
To: <discuss-sudbury-model@aramis.sudval.org>
Sent: Sunday, December 17, 2000 5:39 PM
Subject: DSM: encouragement and the Sudbury model

> Cindy,
> I think part of the problem talking about the concept of encouragement
> the Sudbury School model involves the dual meaning of the word
> The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word as follows: "1. To
> inspire to continue on a chosen course; impart courage or confidence to;
> embolden; hearten. 2. To give support to; foster." Looking at this
> reveals two quite separate threads: One, the concept of "inspiring to
> continue" and "fostering"; the other, the concept of "giving support to"
> "imparting confidence to".
> The first of these involves a pro-active role on the part of the outside
> observer. Person A notices that Person B is setting out (often quite
> tentatively) along a particular path, and Person A takes it upon
> to "inspire" Person B to continue along that path, to foster a
> of the activity. This action on the part of Person A of necessity works
> undermine the independence of Person B in his/her quest, by mixing in
> A's desires and motivations along with Person B's desires and motivations,
> that it is no longer completely clear whether Person B is pursuing the
> because of his/her own internal drive to do so, or also in order to please
> Person B.
> This applies to people setting up schools, as well as to the
> between adults and students at established schools. If I hear about
> thinking about starting a school, the last thing I want to do is intervene
> their internal dialogue and try to "inspire" them to proceed. They must
> that this is their struggle, their ambition, their determination, and not
> any way the product of someone else's "fostering" or "inspiration."
> Similarly, if I see a child in school beginning to show an interest in
> activity, I will never look for ways to "inspire" that child to look
> into the activity or subject.
> On the other hand, the alternative meaning of "encourage" - "to give
> support" - is an altogether different story. There, the role of the
> observer is passive relative to the activity itself, but active relative
> the emotional and intellectual needs, explicitly expressed, of the person
> commencing his/her activity. This posture avoids any internal conflict on
> the part of that person surrounding the key question of whose needs and
> desires are being met and pursued.
> Again, reverting to the examples you brought up, if I see a person
> about starting a school, I am happy to say to that person, "If you
> I'll do everything reasonably in my power to help you when you want help."
> The same goes for a student. The initiative is left entirely to the
> launching the activity, and the role of the compassionate and caring
> observer is to be willingly available to give support, to "impart
> to "embolden".
> Because both meanings are mixed together in the word "encourage", it
> be said that I personally am both in favor of, and opposed to,
> relative to the Sudbury model. I am afraid that this confusion can only
> eliminated by choosing a better word than "encourage" to describe my
> I hope that this will encourage you one way or another!
> Dan Greenberg, Sudbury Valley School

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