Re: DSM: Interest increasing?

Bruce Smith (
Fri, 5 Jan 2001 20:27:51 -0700

in response to's recent posts...

<<It surpasses the SM model, in my humble opinion,in that it supplies
ombudsmen to help the little children>>

What makes you think that the little children in Sudbury schools have no
one to help them? There is absolutely no basis for that assumption. True, I
don't know of a Sudbury school that officially nominates, elects, or
appoints guardians for new and young students. But in part that's because
it's quite unnecessary. At Alpine Valley, at least, mutual support of all
students, not just the newer ones, is extremely widespread and runs very

<<Summerhill students run that school. When a child can say in a letter home
to his parents, "I've met this really nice chap here." (meaning A.S. Neil),
means that Neil didn't exercise his potential authority.>>

No, it means you have a non sequitur. The mere fact that this child
regarded Neil as a "nice chap" has next to no bearing on the degree to
which Summerhill students run their school.

<<Consensus has been used in place of J.C. and it seems to concentrate on
the human element more by putting more importance in relationships instead
of punishment.>>

I wonder what your experience is with JC. In mine, the emphasis is on a
group of one's peers drawing lines of personal responsibility when
individuals disagree. It is the community's voice defining what behaviors
are and aren't acceptable. Yet JC does not operate on the basis of fear,
trying to deter misbehavior through punishment. The culture at Alpine
Valley School very strongly favors constructive over punitive sentences;
ideally, all sentences have as a key component something intended to remind
or demonstrate to the individual why s/he was charged, and how to avoid
that situation in the future.

But more importantly than charging and sentencing, JC is about fairness and
respect, and how these values are (and, occasionally, are not) translated
into actions. The amount and sophistication of ethical reasoning that goes
on in JC is truly amazing, as is the emphasis on what it takes to function
in a human community. Indeed, in my experience, the "human element" and
"relationships" are a very central part of JC.


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