Re: DSM: Subtle Coercion?

The Highland School (
Fri, 04 Jan 1980 17:21:47 -0500

Hi Cindy,
  I am also bothered by the idea that we can be neutral, apolitical, and
non-influential. I think that we DO have a curriculum which is "doing
democracy" and our political philosophy is what allows individuals to
choose to spend their time as they choose.
  The very existence of a school in an urban environment versus a rural
environment affects the choices students can make. Our school is
located in a rural environment and many kids over the years have chosen
to spend their time constructing tree forts - some of them very
elaborate. Obviously, if we were located in the city, that particular
choice wouldn't have been so easy to make.
  I strongly believe that children should follow their own interests and
if they choose to do nothing (at least nothing others recognize as
something), they should be respected in that choice. However, I
recognize that my belief is a value and I also believe that a democratic
community must support that value or individuals won't be allowed to
live it. We have had students - one of whom graduated from Highland -
who did not espouse democracy or claim to value it. Those students,
whether anarchists or monarchists, (so long as they did not violate the
rules) could live within our democracy along with everyone else. Their
rights were valued. I have seen a problem, however, with people whose
belief system included converting others to their undemocratic practices
by any means necessary. Usually, we have found out about this early on
and parted ways.
  Overall, though I can understand the interest in maintaining "purity"
and using Sudbury Valley Model as a catch word to represent that
approach, I still believe that what we are about is democratic community
and the individual rights which the community values and protects.

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