Re: DSM: An alternative teacher at a traditional school

John Axtell (
Wed, 20 Dec 2000 17:07:36 -0800

Dear Anna,

Let me try to make my point clearer.

I do not believe the public school system in the United States is a legal
system. I took my kids out and had the police at my door twenty years ago. I
fought and won but the stakes were not all that high.

However, I believe that most people would agree that a teacher who has
experience as you do in an alternative environment who is working in a
traditional school can offer things to students that teachers that have never
experienced your experience could not begin to give the students.

I do not for a minute suppose that it is possible to implement a SV model in
your school without losing your job. BUT -- I believe that ANY effort made to
show respect to others or to give support to some limited degree of freedom of
thought, students or adults, in any environment improves that environment.

I believe even in a concentration camp or in a jail it is possible to help
those who find themselves in rather "un-free" situations to expand their mental
prisons even if one can not free the captives.

If there were not people like you in the "system" how would anyone in the
system know that there was another "system" out there to even consider.

In a perfect world you should be able to open up a free school in your
community and not charge the students anything and students should be free to
study what they want. However, as you said if they do not do well on the tests
they may well end up in the military.

I know a lot of people in the United States that stayed in school, and did well
just to stay out of the military. They stayed in a system they did not like to
stay out of a system that they might well die in. So I guess it is a question
of personal preference, choosing to do well on tests or going into the
military. From what I have learned about your military that is not the choice I
would want my children to make and would encourage them to do well in whatever
system exists that would allow them to gain additional education and a better
job than going into the military.

When it comes to the life and death of my students I am very, very clear where
my support would be. Others on this list seem to think that it would be better
to change the thinking of the children to be free thinkers and let them learn
whatever they want - to heck with the tests, the SV model, but not I.

Your Friend,

John Axtell

Joe Jackson wrote:

> Anna, as Mr. Axtell says, there are a couple of schools of thought about the
> efficacy of teachers attempting to institute bits and pieces of the Sudbury
> Model within a conventional classroom. I should also tell you that
> educators who have worked in both environments will almost universally say
> that it is essentially impossible to reap the benefits of the Sudbury Model
> in a conventional school environment.
> Having said that, I do agree with Mr. Axtell's sentiments that yours is
> certainly a culture living in a time, economy and political climate where it
> would be difficult to start a Sudbury Model school.
> But in your opinion, would it be impossible?
> -Joe Jackson
> Fairhaven School
> Upper Marlboro, MD

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