Re: DSM: An alternative teacher at a traditional school

Dawn F. Harkness (
Tue, 19 Dec 2000 14:45:33 -0500

    -----Original Message-----
    From: John Axtell <>
>Being an "alternative" teacher in a "traditional" school is a real blessing to yourself and your >students.
>Alternative teachers in alternative schools face very few real challenges and the value of their >contribution to the school is minimal compared to the opportunity you have where you work.

>I can think of no higher calling than to be an alternative teacher in a traditional school. It is a >great service to your students. The key, it would seem to me, would be to integrate as much >alternative teaching as the traditional administrators will allow. After all if you get fired you will >have accomplished nothing. One of your students may well become a leader of your country.


    I think this kind of thinking represents the model where teachers (authority figures) mold (allegedly benevolently) young impressionable minds. The goal for these benevolent teacher/authority figures is to manipulate the minds of all their students and maybe if they are lucky, to shape the thinking of a future leader of an entire country. What a legacy! Clearly, the author believes that this is an appropriate educational model. Anyone who thinks this is the highest calling clearly reflects a perspective which I think is an anathema to the model established at SVS. However, being that this is the Discuss Sudbury Model listserv, I wondered if this was the perspective you were looking for?

    The SVS model absolutely rejects the traditional school model. In fact, SVS stands for the exact opposite of what traditional schools stand for. As someone who believes the model established st SVS ought to be an absolute civil right for children everywhere, I reject the traditional school model as being evil at its core and harmful to children everywhere. I don't believe there is a fundamental difference between traditional teachers at traditional schools and teachers who label themselves as "alternative teachers" at traditional schools. For the most part, teachers at traditional schools are agents of the State whose main purpose is to deprive children of their liberty and freedom of expression and to collect a paycheck for their efforts. Teachers at traditional schools cannot confer any real freedom or liberty on their students as long as children are required to attend schools against their free will.

    I would say, not only is this useless work, it is work which perpetuates harm against children. If you want to know more about my opinion (along with several others) on why there is no such thing as an alternative teacher in a traditional school, you may find more information in the archives of this listserv. But don't read it if you are looking for affirmation of your choice to participate in the traditional school system even though you know it is oppressive to children.

    Dawn Harkness



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