Re: DSM: RE: pre-Sudbury parental conduct

Bruce Smith (
Wed, 10 Jan 2001 19:01:19 -0700

>My take on this is that her initial reaction, if an honest one, was quite
>appropriate. As an eight year veteran staff member in a democratic school or
>as a parent, I believe that I am under no obligation to help everyone do
>everything, particularly if I believe it will be harmful to them or to
>others or to property. I may be obliged not to intervene if I believe the
>harm is simply to themselves, but I am under no obligation to help.
>How do others see this?
>~Alan Klein


I had a similar reaction, but for a different reason. Instead of thinking
about the effect of chocolate on the child, my attention was attracted to
the fact that he had already opened several himself. In my staffing, I
generally try to avoid doing things for kids that I know darn well they can
easily do themselves.

In general, I do not feel obligated to do things for students simply
because they make a request: if I'm in the middle of something
non-interruptible, or if it's something I have little or no interest in
doing, I tell them. Sometimes I help or play with them anyway, because my
job is to be available to students to help them pursue their interests (and
sometimes I'm the only person who _can_ help them at that moment). But I
also have to be honest with students, and so if I can't or don't wish to
help them with something, I try always to be reasonable and forthcoming in
my explanation. (for example: "I can't right there someone else
who can help you/can you ask me again later?, I don't like that
game...I'm not your maid/why can't you throw it away yourself?", etc.)
Staff can certainly decline requests for their participation in a
situation, as long as staff explains why and/or acquaints the person with
other options, and -- of course -- remains respectful toward the person
making the request.


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