Re: DSM: Subtle Coercion?

Bruce Smith (
Sat, 6 Jan 2001 12:17:26 -0700

I heartily agree with Stuart's post, and wanted to add that Alpine Valley
disassociated itself from NCACS for very similar reasons.


>This is Stuart from Cedarwood Sudbury School, commenting on school agendas
>and school-provided activities.
>Startup democratic schools need to decide whether they want to be homogeneous
>or heterogeneous. Committing the school to an agenda, such as an
>environmentalist one, will discourage those who have other beliefs from
>joining. I myself have views on political and social issues that are outside
>the mainstream; if I thought a school was going to take positions on such
>matters, I would not join.
>Incidentally, that is why I would oppose our school's joining the National
>Coalition of Alternative Community Schools, to which many democratic (and
>not-so-democratic) schools belong. The NCACS clearly supports a political
>ideology: "Our mission is to unite and organize a grassroots movement of
>learners and learning communities dedicated to participant control and the
>elimination of human and ecological oppression."
>Yet I do not have a problem with individual staff members expressing their
>support for political ideologies, either verbally or through their actions.
>If a staff member, for example, feels strongly about organic gardening, then
>he or she should feel free to try to make an organic garden happen. Students
>can benefit from hearing about the staff member's interest, and from watching
>him or her pursue that interest.
>However, such learning has costs. The most important cost is that
>staff-initiated (or "school-provided") activities distract students from
>becoming fully responsible for their own lives. Students need to realize that
>they have to make things happen for themselves. This is a very hard lesson. A
>student who talks idly about the school getting a basketball hoop is
>ill-served if a staff member takes up the idea and makes it happen.

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