DSM: RE: RE: RE: Subtle Coercion?

Connie Shaw (ordinary_person@email.msn.com)
Sat, 6 Jan 2001 19:02:05 -0700

It seems to me that we're talking about a matter of degrees. Your language
is full of words of high degree: "daily persuasion", "sustained gentle
persuasional barrages." And what I hear when Sudbury apologists talk about
this subject is a sort of bending over backwards NEVER to do anything to
influence a child, as though one suggestion, one mention of something else
that relates to something a child is doing amounts to "a barrage." This
stance seems artificial to me. Children's wills are not so fragile that they
can't interact with adults in much the same way they interact with
children--interactions in which it is common for one child to suggest an
activity to another. I agree, however, that may not be the case when the
child has been in a situation in which he or she is expected to please the

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-discuss-sudbury-model@aramis.sudval.org
[mailto:owner-discuss-sudbury-model@aramis.sudval.org]On Behalf Of Joe
Sent: Saturday, January 06, 2001 10:15 AM
To: discuss-sudbury-model@aramis.sudval.org
Subject: DSM: RE: RE: Subtle Coercion?

> I think there's a difference between influence and coercion. I find it
> interesting that children are given so much respect in the Sudbury model,
> and yet so much care seems to be taken not to do anything which might have
> an effect on them. Can't children say no, just as adults can? I find that
> the children I interact with have no difficulty rejecting a suggestion I
> might make for a play activity, for example, if it doesn't interest them.

I think the scale goes:


and the difference between influence and persuasion is an active attempt by
the staffmember to *influence* (active verb) a student rather than the
passive behavior of being an *influence* (passive noun).

Just because a child may reject gentle persuasions from teachers does not
mean the sum effect of these daily persuasions is not devestating to them,
and since the body of Sudbury literature does such a good job of spelling
out why leading children to activities, however gently, injures and
ultimately can destroy the power of their personal volition, I'll leave it
at that.

The attempt is to not preempt the will of the child through sustained gentle
persuasional barrages, it is not not to avoid doing anything that has an
effect. For instance, when a staffmember writes up a student, that has an
effect. When a student asks to be taught something by a staff, the
subsequent lesson is an attempt to cause an effect.

-Joe J.

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