Re: DSM: Re: Subtle Coercion?

Scott Gray (
Sun, 7 Jan 2001 20:03:26 -0500 (EST)

On Sun, 7 Jan 2001, Alan Klein wrote:

> Someone (I forget who) gave this example of an adult-adult interaction:
> > > 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.
> >
> Joe responded:
> > 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.
> Joe (and others who may agree with him),
> I would like to hear more about your view of this as an inappropriate
> staff - student interaction. It sounds perfectly reasonable to me. There is
> no coercion and the other person brought up the subject. The "staff" person
> simply responded with their own take on the situation and with a suggestion.
> ~Alan Klein

Hi Alan,

Scott Gray here, from Sudbury Valley.

     The situation: one person says that s/he doesn't like to read.
     The response that one person made: "Oh, well try reading this, it is
easy to read. I'll loan it to you."
     The response that is appropriate to a non-coercive environment: Talk
about something that _is_ relevent to the person's expressed interests at
the time, rather than cajoling her/him to read or otherwise implying that
reading is so intrinisically good that s/he _should_ try to read.

     The problem is, the response "try reading this" implies that there is
a problem with choosing _not_ to read. After all, if someone said "I
don't like pets" not many people would automatically respond "Oh, well try
keeping a mouse, they are easy pets. I'll give you one."
     There _are_ some behaviors that are a problem (specifically, actions
which hurt others), but choosing to spend one's time playing bingo or
riding horses rather than reading is _not_ one of them. I do not operate
on the assumption that reading is better for _other_ people than riding
horses, painting, playing bingo, repairing washing machines, knitting,
cartography, or napping (even though I have my own favorite and less
favorite activities for _myself_ in that list).

Does this help?

--Scott David Gray
reply to:
Boredom is a vital problem for the moralist, since at least
half of the sins of mankind are caused by fear of it.

-- Lord Bertrand Russell

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