Anne and Theo Julienne (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sun, 21 Jan 2001 16:29:34 +1100
Thank you for filling in the story a little bit more.
It sounds like the parents didn't really understand what the school was
about and/or had unrealistic expectations of what they would see happening
A time frame is important in this context. As with any change-over to new
conditions, there is some chaos at first, at least until things settle
down - in this case, until new students start finding their own directions
in learning. From my own experience watching my son "deschooling" about 6
months' patience should be allowed. I've also seen it reported that students
that have been in a "free school" for a while are helpful for the new
students, partly as role models, partly as living proof that it's OK to do
things this way.
It does worry me that you write about >>kids claiming that they "wanted" to
have>> classes. I would prefer to take a claim on its face value. To doubt
the "real" motives behind a child's claim or request is to deny them a
"real" voice. Of course, it's different if there is real, overt evidence of
unusual parental coercion. But why would such a parent be sending their
child to such a school?
Anyway, I love these stories as pictures of how things can go.
> I was there in the early years at Highland, and I would say that you have
> come to reasonable, but only partially factual, conclusions. Highland was,
> indeed, small. The scenario Candy outlined happened in the first year
> (1981). In point of fact, there were very few kids who wanted to attend
> classes. Most were busily going about their business, which consisted of a
> lot of unlearning of habits and attitudes created from years of
> schooling experience.
> When the kids didn't attend classes, their parents (a few) would drop by
> school. Since it looked and sounded VERY different from what they were
> to, they hit upon the question of the noise level as the "reason" that
> kids weren't attending classes. Their kids, having no real experience with
> making decisions that their parents didn't approve of, acceded to that
> of reasoning and pointed to the noise, as well, as the reason they were
> attending classes.
> Let me make it very clear: It was extremely rare that a class would
> be interrupted or interfered with by noise. The much more likely scenario
> was that a kid would find MANY better things to do than to go to the
> class(es) that their parents wanted them to. They then had to explain this
> to their parents and it was a lot easier to blame "noise" than to own up
> the fact that they really didn't want to go to the classes in the first
> Finally, for the most part (perhaps entirely), these classes were set up
> a result of kids claiming that they "wanted" to have them. After all, what
> other way of passing time at "school" did they know?
> ~Alan Klein
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