DSM: RE: Subtle Coercion?

Joe Jackson (shoeless@jazztbone.com)
Sat, 6 Jan 2001 21:59:23 -0500

Connie wrote:

> 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."

When I say "barrage" I am of course *not* talking about a single suggestion.
But what anyone who has worked in a school where the students are not
allowed to lead knows is that it's never about a "single" suggestion. What
context is it that you are referring to where a student encounters a single
instance of a group of teachers/staff members trying to persuade a student
to do something?

> This
> stance seems artificial to me.

The "stance", while articulated a little too much in the extreme (and in the
derogatory?) in your paragraph above, is what happens when a culture is
built upon the idea that children grow best when adults leave them alone.
Fortunately for us, that idea has been borne out in spades by thirty-two
years of Sdubury Schooling in action!

What I believe I tried to say below is that it *is* a matter of degrees.
The attempt to determining the fuzzy line between *actively influencing* and
*being an influence* is a constant battle for a staff member. Please don't
read anything into it that's not there! :)

> 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.

Well, I do not agree, and have you read Free At Last? The reason I came to
this model is the unspeakably wonderful things that children grow into when
adults refrain entirely from trying to lead them. There are many, many
conventional (and alternative) schools that do a wonderfully loving and
gentle job of leading children, and none of them even come close to
producing the profound effect we see in the Model.

I strongly urge you to evaluate the case studies contained in the Sudbury
literature if you ever consider rethinking your attitudes about this.

-Joe Jackson

> 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
> adults.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-discuss-sudbury-model@aramis.sudval.org
> [mailto:owner-discuss-sudbury-model@aramis.sudval.org]On Behalf Of Joe
> Jackson
> 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:
> Influence--->Persuasion---->Coercion
> 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.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b3 on Thu Mar 29 2001 - 11:15:57 EST