Re: DSM: Consensus v. Majority Vote

Kristin Harkness (
Sat, 20 Jan 2001 19:01:45 -0500

Isn't this comparing apples and oranges? Consensus and majority vote are
mechanisms for making decisions. One could have a JC (which simply stands
for Judicial Committee) which operated on a consensus model. The kind of
decisions which Anne was discussing were more 'School Meeting' type
decisions anyway.

I am a fan of majority vote for making decisions in a Sudbury model school
environment. Since it is not really possible to 'step aside' from some
decisions, particularly any decision which established a rule or a
responsibility, consensus would, in my understanding, require the group to
arrive at every such decision unanimously. How could there not be pressure
on dissenters to agree with the majority, if only to end the meeting? I
prefer the vote. In either scenario the dissenter does not get their way,
but at least when it is decided by vote there is no additional requirement
for false agreement with the decision. This assumes that there is plenty of
time before a vote to propose amendments, speak one's mind etc. in a effort
to affect the outcome, which I believe is well established in meetings run
under Robert's Rules of Order.

I also believe that consensus does not scale well, in other words, the
larger the group becomes, the harder consensus is to achieve. If one wants
a small school, that should not be an issue. However, if one wants a school
which may start small but would like to grow to, say SVS's 200 students, it
makes sense to choose a governing structure which will work at that
enrollment level.

Kristin Harkness

-----Original Message-----
From: <>
Date: Saturday, January 20, 2001 5:26 PM
Subject: Re: DSM: dancing

>The democratic process in a Sud school is one person, one vote, and the
>majority rules. Concensus is not really democratic. Personally, I prefer
>concensus to J.C.. Although, J.C. has it merits, if needed. Concensus
>invites the relationship between people, whereas, J.C. is primarily used
>settling disputes and punishment.

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