Re: DSM: Watching My Back

Bruce Smith (
Mon, 12 Feb 2001 20:14:57 -0700


I'm not sure how to respond to your questions, since the dynamics of
Sudbury and traditional schools differ so much. Do I feel safe where I am?
Absolutely. But do you mean safety from the sort of liability issues Dana
raised? Well, again I would answer "yes." Yet it's not that I feel safe --
most of the time I don't even think in terms of that kind of safety or
legality. I am simply free from senseless paranoia, free to be my
responsible, caring self with human beings of all ages.

I can't attribute the difference to parents or students, or to any one
group. The difference, as I see it, is much more fundamental: one system is
based on trust, while the other is based on suspicion. At Sudbury schools,
everyone is expected to act responsibly, and trusted to make their own
choices. The students, staff and parents have the chance to know each other
extremely well, as individuals. In traditional schools, on the other hand,
the adults hardly get to know, are not allowed to trust, the students (or,
in many ways, themselves). This _has_ to poison the atmosphere, with the
result that virtually all adult-student interactions there are constrained
and distorted.

I hope this begins to answer your questions.


>Do you feel "safe" in the school you are in?
>If so why? Is it the parents or the students that make the difference, if any?
>Are not the legal problems pretty much the same?

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