RE: DSM: Interest increasing?

Dana Matthew Bennis (
Fri, 5 Jan 2001 21:42:59 -0500 (EST)

Hi Joe and everyone,

    You are right, Joe, there are not more than maybe a dozen or so _true_
democratic and student-centered schools out there. And I apologize for
assuming that you are not communicating with these schools and other
Sudbury schools. My intention was not to attack.

   What I am thinking is this: democratic and student-centered education
(there are lots of terms to describe this type of school, but I'll use
those words) is incredibly valuable for children - valuable beyond words!
And I want, idealistically, every child to be a part of this wonderful
type of school. Right now, there are VERY few children out there who are
a part of these schools; there are VERY few teachers and educators who
know about these alternatives; and there are VERY few parents who
know about these schools. Yes, many might dismiss this idea immediately
- but a central goal for people involved in alternative
education ought to be to increase the awareness of educators, parents, and
general society to these democratic and student-centered alternatives.
In addition, there should be as much communication as possible between
those already involved with alternative edcucation. (Do people disagree
with these goals?) Even if a school is not a _true_ democratic and
student-run environment, the founders and staff involved most likely have
VERY similar philosophies and thoughts. And those people are probably
more likely than those in general society to see the increased benefits of
a _true_ democratic school such as Sudbury.

   Everyone involved in alternative education has virtually the same core
thoughts - with some variation, those are: that the traditional coercive
school system is a very bad environment for children, and that students
should have much more say over their lives and what they do each day. We
should all recognize those similarities and make it an enormously
important goal to try to give all children the chance to be in an
environment that is democratic and student-centered. I will be the first
to agree that the Sudbury model has huge benefits over some other
alternatives. But we involved in alternative education must not
concentrate on our differences. That will only weaken our
influence and the spread of schools like this throughout the world.
Instead, we should gather with other people involved in this revolution
(or cause if you don't like that word) and group our resources, pool our
minds and our abilities and talents.

  There are LOTS of people out there with very similar thoughts. No, not
identical thoughts, but thoughts that involve those same basic core
beliefs I mentioned above (there are probably more central core
beliefs that I did not mention). If we can gather together, increase
communication amongst ourselves (and yes, maybe even show some schools
that have lingering coercive qualities that some of Sudbury's
philosophies and practices may even be better for children), than we will have
much more ability to spread the word and give many more children the
opportunity to be part of this wonderful type of community.

   Conferences, increased awareness of other schools and organizations and
increased communication between all people involved in this cause - these
are some possibilities.

  Could we who are on this listserve possibly pool our thoughts regarding
this, and come up with ways to increase knowledge of this education
throughout the world? I know many educators, professors, teachers, and
parents, and NONE of them (besides the ones I've met through this
listserve and actual alternative schools) know about these alternatives.
I think that is terrible! However, most people would readily
agree that their school background was somewhat pointless in
content and ineffective in truly educating them. Thats a great
foundation on which to introduce alternative schools and their
philosophies. Helping to run the respective Sudbury schools is, I am
certain, a huge undertaking and time-engagement - but we must also
inform the world about democratic and student-centered education.

  What can we do to inform society and to give all our children the chance
to be in such a school??



On Fri, 5 Jan 2001, Joe Jackson wrote:

> > Joe wrote:
> >
> > "I'm interested, since the only real constants of the model is that the
> > students and staff see to the day-to-day governance, and that learning is
> > student-led (two concepts you are in harmony with), why aren't you
> > starting
> > a Sudbury School?
> >
> > "I understand the flexibility you seek, but since that very flexibility is
> > inherent in the model, why would you choose to differentiate yourself from
> > the range of existing SM schools, with all of their varying governance
> > styles and judicial systems?"
> >
> >
> > Joe and others,
> >
> > Aren't the goals of Sudbury to increase this wonderful democractic and
> > student-centered "education" throughout the country and throughout the
> > world? So that the most kids as possible (or all kids, to be idealist)
> > can have the incredible experience of being part of this type of
> > community? That is my goal, and I believe it is also the goal of most
> > people involved with Sudbury schools (correct me if I am wrong). In
> > which case, wouldn't a great way to accomplish this goal be to establish
> > communication between all schools with similar philosophies and goals, and
> > to recognize their efforts to establish a place where, as you described
> > Sudbury schools Joe, "the students and staff see to the day-to-day
> > governance, and that learning is student-led." There are many such
> > schools out there - schools which developed before or after Sudbury, and
> > which did not necessarily know about Sudbury when they were founded.
> > Should their decision not to affiliate themselves with Sudbury imply that
> > the school is antithetical to the Sudbury model?
> I hope nobody interpreted what I was saying as stating that you're either SM
> or antithetical to it. What I intended to ask is why someone who is opening
> a school that looks, smells, and acts like a SM school would avoid calling
> it that.
> You state that there are "many such schools" out there that practice
> democratic governance and student-initiated learning that do not call
> themselves SM. I know of about a dozen, and believe me, we communicate,
> affiliate, and almost everything-else-ate with them. Are there more of
> these schools out there that we don't know about? Possibly. Am I trying to
> limit communication with these schools that I don't know about? No.
> > It seems that Sudbury is limiting its efforts to increase the
> > communication between democractic schools and the amount of democractic
> > schools to only those schools which call themselves Sudbury model schools.
> > What about establishing communication with other schools which have the
> > same philosophies? - sharing ideas, having conferences, pooling
> > everyone's minds to come up with the best ways to increase the chance
> > of all kids having the opportunity to be a part of a democractic
> > student-centered school.
> >
> > I believe that Sudbury schools are absolutely wonderful places for
> > children (and staff too!). And the success and spreading of the Sudbury
> > idea is extremely important to the spread of democractic education.
> > Especially because of this reason, if Sudbury could bond a bit more with
> > other democractic schools,
> Once again, I just don't understand why you think I don't bond with other
> Sudbury Model Schools and schools that are fully democratic and fully
> non-coercive. I just don't think there are many out there.
> > and become a part of the country-wide and
> > world-wide movement for this type of education, then the spread of
> > democratic schools and the acceptance and desire for their philosophies
> > could hopefully increase at a higher rate than ever.
> I don't see that there are a plethora of true democratic schools out there
> that are not associated with the Sudbury movement. Can you enlighten me?
> >
> > With all praise and love for the Sudbury model,
> > Dana
> >
> >

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