Re: DSM: pre-Sudbury parental conduct

John Axtell (
Mon, 08 Jan 2001 08:43:53 -0800

Dear Mitter-Burkes,

Hitting the peg on the head does not have its own reward if you were trying to
miss it. And by the way what sane individual who had not been coerced into
believing that for some insane reason someone should get a jolly over hitting the
top of a peg, talk about conditioning from an outside stimulus !!!

I think your comment about home schooling is misplaced.

If you have a dictatorial attitude in your home that is the situation you choose
to live with, it is not the problem of the home schooling paradigm. Certainly if
parents are able to become teachers that fit into the SV model you and your wife
could make the same choice.

Home schooling has a number of possible outcomes which some might see as a
liability while others see it as an asset. Home schooling as a concept in no way
would prevent the SV model from being implemented in the schooling part of the
Home schooling experience, while the family part of the experience may not be
democratic in any way.

The paradigm is one of the best I have had the joy to research, the results have
been evident throughout the country with different results with different

If SV model students tend to give their parent's "back talk" I question if they
really understand the values that SV is trying to instill. "Back talk" hardly
sounds like individuals respecting the rights of others.

I doubt that your facts of life resemble my facts of life.

John Axtell

Mitter-Burkes wrote:

> on 1/6/01 8:24 PM, at wrote:
> > So how does one treat a baby when one espouses the philosophy of Sudbury?
> > Do you clap and say "Good job!" when the baby hits the peg on the head or
> > goes potty, or do you just look at them stony-faced? Somewhere in the
> > middle, I would think, but what is that? I'm interested in hearing how
> > people who have been through this with their own babies have experienced it.
> >
> >
> I would freely confess to coercing my children into hitting the potty with
> their excrement. Good job, indeed!
> Wouldn't you agree, though, that hitting the peg on its head has its own
> reward? An event to relish, not reinforce.
> We raised our babies (now 13, 11 and 8.972) with a lot of voice in the
> house, and we frequently hold family meeting to enable discussion of events
> and patterns. Parents of Sudbury-model students should anticipate a lot of
> discussion and back-talk from their kids. And to the extent that you rely
> on that omnipotent shout every once in a while ("because I say so, that's
> why!"), you'll get some heat.
> But we do not pretend to be a democratic household, and we acknowledge that
> as parents we have a dramatic and unique impact on our children which
> includes intentional and unintentional coercion.
> These are facts of life, I think. These facts are the downfall of
> homeschooling, and they are the reason why we are trying to build schools
> where kids have a deep sense of ownership.

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