Re: DSM: Re: Subtle Coercion?

The Booroobin Sudbury School (
Mon, 8 Jan 2001 17:07:36 +1000

Hi Dana,
I wasn't seeking to jump on anyone's back. I was simply seeking to clarify
how we seek to respond. I'm not interested in spreading the word of
"alternative" schools. I didn't say that. In fact I expressed the fact
that we were contemplating being involved in the conference. As it is
likely we will attend, and if they accept papers we propose to deliver, our
involvement will be to express the democracy of The Booroobin Sudbury
School. Hopefully that will draw out discussion and thinking about what
democracy ought to mean in its practical application in Schools. We will be
also proposing a networking of truly independent Schools in Australia; and
opening discussion on outcomes based education which some of the
"alternative" Schools appear to be adopting. In our opinion and the opinion
of others, there are no other truly democratic Schools in Australia. As I
indicated earlier, it is their claim to being democratic that we are
concerned about. I also indicated that there is a limited, but growing
market / interest for different forms of education. But the level of
acceptance for this is apparently tiny at this stage. We are a business, we
have to be. And naturally our levels of income and expenses are part and
parcel of that. It is one of the benefits for Students who enrol in this
School in that they can become involved in the day to day operation of this
business, in order to work with others to make it at least sustainable, and
potentially grow and prosper. Competition should not be seen as a bad
thing. It is the way that competition happens, that can make it good or
not. So at the moment, if some Schools are calling themselves "democratic",
especially if they are only a "little" democratic, the competition is unfair
already, especially when we work hard to ensure that the practical
implementation of democracy and its principles are strong in the minds of
anyone who considers enrolling. We don't go out and market the School and
undertake public relations in ways that denigrates our competition, instead
we seek to define and highlight our philosophy and individuality. We know
that what we are and how we operate has impacts, and has been since 1994, on
systems and Schools around us and up to State Government level.
Regards, Derek
The Booroobin Sudbury School
Ph/fax +61 07 5499 9944
----- Original Message -----
From: "Dana Matthew Bennis" <>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, January 08, 2001 12:33 PM
Subject: Re: DSM: Re: Subtle Coercion?

> In response to those who are deciding whether the person who recommended a
> book was acting appropriately or inappropriately, I find it rather hard to
> believe that anyone can judge something without actually being a part of
> the situation.
> Lets give people a bit of a break and not jump on their backs.
> In response to an email from (I don't know your name!),
> when you said:
> "I don't think it's (Summerhill's) more democratic. But I think it
> surpasses the SM model in
> some ways. As I think the SM model surpasses Summerhil in some ways.
> Both provide freedom for children. It's not a contest to me.
> I am in debt to A.S. Neil and Summerhil for doing this long before we
> Americans did.
> And I am in debt to Daniel Greenberg for Sudbury."
> !!
> Its nice to read something from someone who can actually consider and
> praise two different schools for each of their wonderful qualities! I
> completely agree with you - I do not think it is a contest.
> Derek, you mentioned that you want to help spread the word of alternative
> schools, attending a conference in Sydney. Great to hear! You also
> "Whilst we want to be co-operative, we are also conscious that
> we are in competition with these other Schools, in what is currently (even
> though it will change slowly over time) a limited market that is accepting
> of different educational concepts."
> Why do you see it as competition? Are you in danger of not having enough
> money to run the school? (I am seriously curious) Although that must be
> an extremely tough position, I can't accept the view that democratic
> schools are in competition with each other. Sure, it makes logical
> "business" sense with regard to increasing enrollment and obtaining enough
> money. But should we think of this wonderful thing we are giving kids as
> "business"? (I do not in ANY form mean to imply that money issues are not
> important, they of course are very important). If we can drop that and
> instead think that we have a common hope and cause (giving as many
> as possible a better education) than much more can be done. If we view
> as a competition, I believe it is a guarantee that less will be
> accomplished and at a slower rate.
> I also understand why you think that attending more conferences and
> becoming a member of alternative education organizations can submerge your
> identity and group you with other schools that are not _as_ democratic or
> "free." Knowing the strength and convictions of nearly all Sudbury
> on this listserve, I don't think there is any way that the Sudbury
> would be gobbled up or become less clear. Also, even though some other
> schools may not be _as_ democratic (or free, etc.), don't you think that
> staff and students at these schools would still have valuable information
> about alternative education, and that more communication with them could
> bring to the fore more ideas? And still further, as most of you (and I)
> believe, many of these schools are less democratic . . . however, they are
> a hell of a lot better and more student-centered than traditional schools,
> and wouldn't staff and students at those better schools possibly be more
> apt to agree with and apply the more democratic and student-centered ideas
> and practices of Sudbury schools?
> Dana
> At 05:56 PM 1/7/01 -0500, you 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
> >> > little interest in reading. I balked at this as I find it quite sad
> >> > offered that she try some children's books which are easier and which
> >> > 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
> >> > 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
> >no coercion and the other person brought up the subject. The "staff"
> >simply responded with their own take on the situation and with a
> >
> >~Alan Klein
> >

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