Re: DSM: Interest increasing?

Bruce Smith (
Fri, 5 Jan 2001 20:27:48 -0700

I have a couple more reasons for following the Sudbury model, as opposed to
devising one's own Sudbury-influenced model.

First, it allows you to avoid reinventing the wheel. I can't tell you how
many times that having Sudbury to pattern ourselves after has saved us a
*tremendous* amount of time and grief. And "patterning" doesn't mean
copying: the SVM encourages thinking for oneself, and allows for a wide
degree of variation in how it's implemented.

Secondly -- and something that's particularly critical in the early stages
-- having a clearly articulated model gives the group a focus and a center
whose value cannot be overstated. When starting an innovative, novel kind
of school, the tendency seems to be for the differences within a group to
pull it in several, sometimes conflicting, directions. Even if these
pressures don't pull the group apart altogether, they can certainly keep it
from advancing in a coherent way. The value of the model in keeping people
focused on a common goal is considerable, and continues long after the
first couple of years.

Given the disagreement evident even in these recent posts, here's one more
reason for using the term "Sudbury"...despite the refusal to codify and
enforce the term, it seems much clearer than the broader term,
"democratic." That is, it's somewhat easier to communicate and understand
what is meant by the more specific term, particularly when you have a group
of actual schools to point to.

Sudbury schools believe in students' possessing an utterly equal voice in
all decisions affecting the school, and in complete freedom of choice for
students (with democratically-regulated behavioral responsibility). Period.
Is a school which offer a qualified, conditional freedom to its students
not democratic? That's not for me to say. But I would have some difficulty
thinking of such a place as a Sudbury school (good thing it's not up to me,
eh? :).

Bruce Smith

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