RE: DSM: Re: SVS for everyone?

Joseph Moore (
Thu, 11 Jan 2001 08:25:16 -0800

Good parenting is certainly important, and can, I agree, mitigate a world of
bad things. But I think the way to look at it is, as others have said, as a
matter of rights and respect - we're not trying to "optimize" anything for
kids, we're trying to recognize their rights, respect their choices, and
trust that, given the chance, they will grow into good adult human beings
under their own direction. I mention this not as a criticism of you or your
post in any way, but merely because there seems to be, out there in the rest
of the world, an unholy fixation with "optimal" performance - seeking the
top absolute best becomes an excuse to push kids around.

I tend to worry about it from the other side: as Joe said, SM is "the best
place for _all_ students, save those with certain disabilities that prevent
them from being in the environment." Is poor parenting (or poor prior
schooling) one of those disabilities? Probably all SM schools have had a few
students who wanted to enroll or who did enroll who proved, for whatever
reasons, incapable of showing enough respect for others rights to follow the
rules, and therefore could not be allowed to stay.

Since our working premise is that all kids would, by nature, benefit from a
Sudbury education, it seems inevitable that we point the finger at nurture
whenever we find one who doesn't seem able to, Joe's exceptions aside. In a
round about way, this is dangerously close to conceding a crucial point to
those who claim we 'cherry pick' our kids - people can (and have) pointed to
the vast numbers of 'disadvantaged' kids as being, in effect, those whom
poor nurture (or, more generously, poor environment) has rendered unfit for
our type of school.

I don't like this argument, but until we get a SM school running in an inner
city someplace for a decade or so, I find it hard to refute.


-----Original Message-----
From: []

As I discuss my dreams of starting a free school and the benefits children
receive from being involved in such an environment, I always involve myself
in a discussion of what "kind" of kid functions well in this environment vs.

a "schooling" environment.

What I have come to believe is that any child can achieve their potential if

they are raised in a great environment from birth and throughout life via
impact of their parents. I believe this is one of the reasons many of the
Sudbury sites refer to their desire to have parents "committed to providing
warm, stimulating, egalitarian learning environment" (quoted from the
Sacramento Valley School website).

Outside of extremely bad educational environments, I think that any child
raised in "a warm, stimulating, egalitarian learning environment" will
succeed in school.

But what we must ask, given this situation, is what is the optimal,
developmentally appropriate environment for education. This environment,
undoubtedly, is the type offered by Sudbury Valley-based schools.

Any thoughts?


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