RE: DSM: An alternative teacher at a traditional school

Joe Jackson (
Wed, 20 Dec 2000 12:13:14 -0500

> We cannot discount the efforts of individuals like Anna. She is doing
> what she can and helping a lot of kids.


> I believe it is irresponsible to give up on children (or anyone for that
> matter), and when a person advocates that we just ignore or stay away
> from a system which is "cruel" to children, we are doing just that.

I cannot give all of my attention and hard work to Fairhaven without giving
up on public schools; and since nobody can take care of all the world's
children, the only interpretation I can make of your comment is that you and
I and we are all "irresponsible".

Well, I disagree. I believe we all take responsibility for what we can, and
in the way we think is the most effective. You choose to take
responsibility in your way, I in mine.

Also, I think what you and many are missing is that is possible that *good*
people work in a *cruel* system. And it's interesting to point out what you
already know, that most of the good people *know* it's a cruel system.

> I see, in my city alone, thousands of families who struggle through
> life; without the resources and/or the enlightenment to see that the
> sudbury model is something for them or their children.

Well if you talk to any of them, please assist us in enlightening them about
the Sudbury Model, and please let them know that Fairhaven School in
Maryland has tuition assitance available for low-income families!

> These families desperately need the public school system; the parents
> value it and so do the kids. For many children, including the immigrants
> and the disenfranchised, it gives them more opportunity than anything
> they could hope for at home or elsewhere in their environment. For many
> kids I have known, school is a haven, a place where there is
> consistency, a place where they are (sometimes) gently and respectfully
> listened to, a place where they will be safe and cared for at least for
> 5 or 6 hours.

I agree, and I long for, and will continue to work for the day when
government-run coercive educational environments are not the only option for
the underprivileged youth in our nation's urban centers.

I hope we can agree that it's a sad commentary that the solitary choice of
public schools give children "more opportunity than anything they could hope
for at home or elsewhere in their environment", and I invite you to join our
battle to increase accessibility to, and knowledge of, alternatives like the
Sudbury Model.

> As I said, there are thousands of these kids in my city alone, and in
> every city around the world. The public schools exist - they are there,
> and the people in them are real people just like you and me, trying
> their best to be happy and live a good life.
> Working with these people and respecting where they are in life, both
> teachers and students, is the only way to make a real difference in our
> society.

So then, since I choose to work with the staff and students of Fairhaven and
not my local public school, I am not making a real difference in my society?
Am I misunderstanding this?

> It is not my place, nor yours, to judge these people and
> discount their journey through life.

The phrase "judge these people and discount their journey through life." is
simply an inflammatory and negatively-spun way of saying that I look at what
other people are doing and don't agree. Well, how else can people decide
what they are going to do unless they can look at themselves and to their
neighbor and effectively judge for themselves the right way to live?

I either have a hard time gleaning your meaning in general, or else I have a
really hard time with the thinking and use of language in this post. I
prefer to think I just misunderstand.

To summarize, my main points in response are:

1) It's possible that perfectly good, hard-working people work in a bad

2) When someone says, "good, hardworking convention-school teachers are only
strengthening a bad system" it's possible that they should not be accused of
discounting the actual person (good people make mistakes), and

3) The idea that people that don't actively work for or support public
schools are by definition, "irresponsible", represents a non-sequitur of the
highest order.

-Joe Jackson

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