Re: DSM: Diversity - YEAH!

John Axtell (
Wed, 20 Dec 2000 20:56:43 -0800


I really appreciate the time you took to respond to my concerns and questions.
They really helped me to understand the differences in terminology used by SV

John Axtell

Joe Jackson wrote:

> OK John, I asked the tough questions, and while I admire you for having the
> guts to say what you think and stick to it, I find some of your attitudes
> about diversity to be repugnant, and I'll leave it at that. On to your
> questions!
> > 1. Obviously SV model allows gays in.
> The model per se does not have a position on who can be at the school and
> who can't. That is determined by a combination of federal law, state and
> local law, the School Meeting of a particular school, and any committees and
> clerks the School Meeting appoints to make admissions decisions.
> To my knowledge there is not currently a Sudbury Model school that
> discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation.
> > Do they allow cross dressers as
> > teachers, students ?
> Again, that is up to the individual School Meeting. There is no rule at
> Fairhaven prohibiting cross dressing.
> > Do they allow two boys to show affection to
> > each other
> > physically or do they have to hide their feelings. Is the same
> > standard applied
> > to boy / girl relationships and if there are standards where does
> > the freedom
> > of expression and the "right" to be oneself come in or where does it stop.
> Again up to the particular school. Fairhaven currently has laws that impact
> sexual behavior in the school. Excerpts:
> 1-00-20 The school is a public place regarding sexual conduct. No one shall
> engage in sexual behavior or nudity in the building or in public areas of
> the grounds.
> 1-00-21 "Sexual behavior" excludes brief kisses, handholding, and hugging,
> but includes "making out" and "necking".
> There is no explicit or implied differences in the standard of conduct
> between the same or opposite sexes in the Fairhaven law book.
> > 2. Is the SV model of freedom simply defined as what the JC allows, or the
> > bylaws allows or is there really freedom of expression.
> Freedom of expression is an implicit right at Fairhaven School. The law
> book, which is the body of legislation passed by School Meeting, determines
> the limits on that freedom. JC, in the interest of balancing the rights of
> the individual with the rights of the community, enforces the law book.
> > Can
> > student's smoke or
> > drink if they wish?
> Once again up to the individual school with impact from local, state and
> federal law.
> >From our law book:
> 1-00-10 There shall be no illegal activities on or off campus during
> attendance.
> 1-00-11 No smoking is allowed in or on the building.
> 1-00-12 No alcoholic beverages are allowed on campus during school, official
> school functions, or other formal gatherings unless special permission from
> school meeting is granted.
> 1-10-11 Open flames and the use of all other incendiary devides are not
> permitted without permission from School Meeting. Birthday candles and
> subcontractors are exempt from this restriction.
> So effectively no drinking unless an event gets prior permission from SM,
> and you can only smoke away from the buildings if you're majority age and
> light up off campus (I have experience with this one as I would smoke a
> cigar when I used to mow the school).
> > I do not have my mind made up that there is little difference between a
> > "teacher" in the SV model and a traditional setting.
> In fact what I think is not specifically that there is a big difference
> between a teacher and a SM staff member, but that there is an enormous
> difference between what a conventional classroom with some elements of the
> model and a Sudbury Model school do for children.
> > In fact I am
> > trying to
> > understand how a person in the SV model could possibly hold the title of
> > "teacher" rather than coach or resource person. The definition of
> > a teachers
> > seems contrary to the purpose of SV model.
> Actually, we don't call them "teachers", they are referred to as "staff
> members", probably for exactly the reasons you are thinking.
> > I would find it most interesting to know why you feel the SV model is not
> > changing minds. From what this list says I think that the SV model is more
> > effective in changing minds than the traditional school system. I am not
> > placing a value on the function of changing minds but simply
> > believe it occurs
> > daily and can not be prevented and I happen to think the paradigm
> > of SV model
> > is more "mind changing" than a public school setting.
> I wasn't the one who objected to that, but I will speak to it.
> That the verb tense of the phrase, "changing minds" is, per se, perceived as
> anethema to the model is likely because it implies that one person is
> changing another person's mind. I think it's fair to say that the
> fundamental precept of the model is that trying to "change the minds" of
> children damages their ability and desire to learn and grow.
> So I think the reason for the misunderstanding here is that there is a
> difference between "changing minds" and a "mind-changing" environment. I
> agree with you that the Sudbury environment presents the greatest chance
> that the child will learn what she needs to learn, and it does it by not
> trying to "change her mind". Does that make sense?
> > Again I really value the input of everyone on this list and never
> > take offense
> > at others having differing opinions, in fact I enjoy the debate.
> > I wish you and
> > Dawn and everyone on this fantastic list a wonderful holiday season.
> Thanks, John. May your Kwanzaa be filled with the actualization of Nguzo
> Saba.
> -Joe J.

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