Re: DSM: Sudbury Schools in an Urban setting

Dawn F. Harkness (
Tue, 6 Feb 2001 11:42:30 -0500

I agree with Bruce whole-heartedly.

IMO, folks who have an aversion to spirited debate are doomed to be put off
by the Sudbury Model in practice. I came to this opinion after I observed a
School Meeting at SVS in full swing. The issue being debated is fuzzy now,
but the dynamics of the meeting were deeply ingrained in my memory. A
motion had been made by a student. Several people opposed the motion,
including Dan Greenberg who gave an erudite articulation of his opposition
to the motion. The next student who was called upon to speak started with
the phrase, "Everything Danny just said was bullshit." He was called out of
order for his use of the word bullshit by the chair of the meeting. He
apologized for using an obscenity in School Meeting, but then proceeded to
launch into the most articulate explanation of why he thought the motion
should pass. He had no fear that he would be demonized for having a
dissenting opinion. He felt in his heart that he was right and he had the
facts to back it up and hopefully persuade others to vote for his point of
view. When the vote was taken, it was clear he had succeeded in his goal
because the motion passed.

That's the kind of education what I want for my daughter and that's only one
of the reasons I'm happy she is at SVS. I would reject a watered down
version of this model because I want my daughter to be prepared for living
in a vibrant democratic community. If people want a different education for
their children, they should look elsewhere.

Dawn Harkness


-----Original Message-----
From: Bruce Smith <>
Date: Monday, February 05, 2001 8:47 PM
Subject: RE: DSM: Sudbury Schools in an Urban setting

>How are we supposed to have a discussion if people label every argument
>they don't like as "defensive"? Exactly how is it defensive to demand that
>the participants in a discussion back up their arguments with concrete,
>specific facts??
>It seems to me the people most likely to cry "defensive!" are those with
>the least weight behind their arguments; those wanting to "get beyond right
>and wrong" often appear unable to make their point any other way (i.e., all
>arguments become relative, rather than being judged on their reasoning and
>evidence). People who make baseless accusations and then try to undermine
>the fair challenges of others, people who can't distinguish between an
>honest disagreement and a personal attack, have much to learn about the art
>of discussion. You'll have trouble promoting the model if you cannot
>participate in a rational debate.

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