DSM: Starting out

Thu, 4 Jan 2001 14:16:47 EST


My only experience as a founder was with the Fairhaven School. I joined the
Fairhaven group when the opening day was nigh a fait accompli. So I'm no
authority on getting started. But I have one piece of advice that may save
you some heartache.

Know and be confident in your knowledge that you are going to start a Sudbury
School (if that is, indeed, your intent). Define your intent as soon as you
can. And let new folks know as well as you can what does and doesn't match
your vision. Make sure your visions are compatible, and resist the urge to
compromise your philosophy, no matter what skills a prospective ally may
offer you.

Once folks are on board, they will help you define, communicate, and protect
your vision, as it will also be theirs. As people join you, there will be an
inclination to change the shape of the vision to accomodate each new body.
This is probably vital to the process, but there is the possibility the
perspective will be too broad. The danger there is that the focus will be
lost. Or little will be accomplished, or what is accomplished does not match
your vision, or have enough buy-in from other members of the group. (I think
I'm repeating myself.)

I found it enlightening listening to John Gatto speak about the evolution of
democracy in the historical context of early New England Colonies*. One
point that hit home was how fragile the democratic community is in its early
stages - how a commonality of purpose is crucial to their very survival -
how the ability to absorb dissenting opinion, without threatening the
community, grows naturally over time.

-Best of Luck to you,

Robert Murphy
Cedarwood Staff
*You may find the tapes of several of his discussions useful. The collection
Cedarwood owns is called: "A FEW LESSONS THEY WON'T FORGET: The Disgrace of
Modern Schooling." They are available through:

The Odysseus Group, 295 E. 8th Street
Suite 3W, New York, New York 10009

Or you may visit johntaylorgatto.com.

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