Re: DSM: Encouragement

Robert Swanson (
Mon, 18 Dec 2000 23:30:51 -0800

For me "encouragement" represents a misplaced perspective. When adults have
an oportunity to participate in a water fight, I think it is that misplaced
perspective that gets in the way to stop them. Same for running around with
the dog, staying up till 2 AM in sleeping bags watching the stars, posing a
conversation between dolls, exploring with a magnifying glass. When children
are encouraged to learn this may be different than participating in their
learning process with heart and personal excitement.

Is my point clear? I hesitate to get on my soapbox to consider the weird
psychology that passes as maturity.


on 12/17/00 11:46 AM, Bruce Smith at wrote:
> <<I know that the adults are to give the students room to discover on their
> own. But is it a conscious effort not to encourage too much? Is that part
> of the model? I believe in encouragement. Once my kids show an interest
> in something, I try to encourage them to follow that interest as long as it
> remains an interest. I tell them they can do anything that they are
> interested in. I think that if I instead pointed out all the difficulties,
> they may not even embark on the journey. My kids are still young yet and
> maybe I am wrong.>>
> Cindy,
> It's telling that you set your question in the context of your relationship
> with your kids, because the relationship is the answer. Joe mentioned a
> common rule of thumb in staff-student interactions, which is whether you
> would do the same thing if it were an adult, and not a child. Another take
> on that rule is to ask whether you'd treat a respected adult friend of
> yours the same way.
> But the easiest way to answer your question is with reality, not theory. As
> a staff member at a Sudbury school, I relate to the students and my fellow
> staff as if they and I were persons -- full-fledged, well-rounded
> individuals. We take an interest in how and what each other is doing,
> because that's what friends do (though I try to stop short of anything that
> smacks of evaluating, rather than respecting, others' choices). Our school
> is a rather close-knit community: we know each other quite well, and we
> share each other's joys and concerns. So when someone does something for
> the first time, when someone succeeds at a task which they've been tackling
> for some time, of _course_ I encourage them -- if that's the right word.
> I'm excited when these people thrive, and saddened when they struggle. In
> other words, whether or not I encourage people at my school depends on
> whether that's what my friendship with a given person calls for at a
> particular moment.
> As others have indicated, that's a degree of closeness you're not likely to
> find on a listserve. Personally, I couldn't encourage you in your efforts
> to start a school without making sure you were as aware as you could
> possibly be of the difficulties involved. To me, that's a level of concern
> that goes beyond mere encouragement.
> Good luck,
> Bruce

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