RE: DSM: Re: Subtle Coercion?

Joe Jackson (
Sun, 7 Jan 2001 15:16:22 -0500

Some of your beliefs of what happens in the school are incorrect, and I find
some of your beliefs to be fairly cynical. To wit:

> In being honest with yourself. If you believe a thing is true you want
> others to believe it also and you go about trying to convince
> them. If, in
> the case of children, you deliberately put a clamp on your
> beliefs so as not
> to coerce them you are being equally manipulative in that which is being
> withheld.

Nobody has said anything about "witholding your beliefs". I don't know
where you got that.

If what you mean is that by not attempting to persuade or actively influence
children we are manipulating them, then I think you have a cynical
definition of the word "manipulate".

I wish there was a way for me to transfer my experiences of what happens to
children in the SM School versus what happens in the conventional
environment, as you would each immediately know what it does for children
when adults stay out of the way. But I cannot.

That's why it is up to reasonably inquisitive people to lay hands on some of
the literature from the Sudbury Press. We cannot give anyone the sense of
the millions of vignettes that happen over and over at the schools that
prove the primary importance of not persuading students on this listserve;
you have to do a little reading to get that...

If you are truly interested in learning about the Sudbury Model, you have to
read. If you are not truly interested, you are fooling yourself by
pretending that you have considered and rejected it.

> Here's an example: I have an adult friend who recently told me she has
> little interest in reading. I balked at this as I find it quite sad and
> offered that she try some children's books which are easier and which I
> frequently read myself. She did not ask me if I knew any good
> ones or if I
> knew where she could get one, but I took the initiative and offered "The
> Giver" as I'd read it recently and really enjoyed it. She took
> it and read
> it and liked it of her own volition. Hers was the freedom to
> choose to read
> it or not to read it. It had nothing to do with my not making the
> suggestion for fear of forcing her into it. That would have been absurd.

Well, if by using this as a test case of something that would be
inappropriate for a staff to say to a student, then you are correct. And it
does not pass my test of something I would say to a casual acquaintance (as
opposed to close friend), so I guess that's _my_ rule based on _my_
principles of social behavior.
> Anyway, like it or not you are in control of these children's lives.

Who do you mean, my children, or students at the school? And what parts of
their lives are "we" "in control" of?

> They've been granted a freedom by you who hold the power to grant
> it and who
> have the right to choose. You parents who decide SVS is a good place for
> them and you staff/others who decide to allow them in.

That is not correct. The School Meeting, a fully democratic body consisting
of all staff and students either makes admissions decisions directly, or
elects committees and clerks that make those decisions. Through sheer
numbers, students have the majority of decision-making power at our schools.

> Also, I'm not trying to slam your model, I think it's a good one
> and surely
> the best I've seen so far. But the more I think about it the more I find
> I'm at odds with myself over it. There are many imperfections. That is
> all.

I'm not interpreting anything you say as a slam - this is a discussion
group! :) It's just that you apparently don't know enough about it to have
much of a well-informed opinion.

-Joe Jackson

> --
> >From: Sam Senteney <>
> >Reply-To:
> >To:
> >Subject: Re: DSM: Re: Subtle Coercion?
> >Date: Sat, 06 Jan 2001 21:32:54 -0800
> >
> >Ouch! How unfortunate your relationships must be! Please speak for
> >yourself and not include others by default in your dim view of human
> >relationships. While I admit to frequent attempts at persuading others
> >that my way is the best way, they usually begin with " I think that", "I
> >feel that", "When that happens, I", as opposed to "You should". Telling
> >others what you think or how you feel something should be, is not
> >dishonest. I am not following the connection between someone being
> >coercive and not having an honest relationship. Is someone who tells you
> >they are trying to coerce you therefore not being honest?
> >
> >
> >At 03:57 AM 1/7/01 +0000, you wrote:
> >>People aren't honest in their adult relationships either and they
> >>constantly go around trying to coerce each other into thinking the same
> >>way they do themselves so I doubt that that would work at all.
> >>
> >>
> >>>From: "Joe Jackson" <>
> >>>Reply-To:
> >>>To: <>
> >>>Subject: DSM: RE: RE: RE: RE: Subtle Coercion?
> >>>Date: Sat, 6 Jan 2001 22:31:25 -0500
> >>>
> >>>There is an oft-repeated axiom among much of the folks at
> various Sudbury
> >>>schools I have been totally fortunate to associate with, that a good
> >>>guideline for finding that "fuzzy line" between leading a child and
> >>>walking
> >>>alongside is: Is what I'm saying to her something I would say to an
> >>>adult
> >>>casual acquaintance?
> >>>
> >>>In other words, I would not walk up to an adult that I had known for a
> >>>short
> >>>time and say, "Hey, I noticed you working with a calculator
> yesterday.
> >>>You
> >>>know, there's this great book on mathematics in the library."
> >>>
> >>>I might, however, walk up to a casual acquaintance and say,
> "Was that xyz
> >>>I
> >>>saw you reading the yesterday? Oh, how do you like it? I
> read her other
> >>>book, zyx." etc.
> >>>
> >>>Knowing and being honest with yourself regarding your
> intention when you
> >>>speak to a student is likewise important. Avoiding the
> "seduction of the
> >>>teachable moment". :)
> >>>
> >>>-JJ
> >>
> >>_________________________________________________________________
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