DSM: Re: [heartlight] Link: in support of Sudbury Model

David Rovner (rovners@netvision.net.il)
Wed, 28 Feb 2001 11:58:04 +0200

A most interesting website you suggested ! !

Please see below Daniel Greenberg's essay on the subject:
"Coercion is Obsolete in Schools"

David Rovner <rovners@netvision.net.il>
"Coercion is Obsolete in Schools"
by Daniel Greenberg

     One of the more puzzling phenomena on the current educational
scene in America is the increasing popularity of COERCION, in
one form or another, as a legitimate tool to be used in the
furtherance of educational goals. At a time when the entire world
seems ever so slowly to be gaining awareness of the fact that
force is no longer an effective method of achieving lasting aims,
one segment of our culture -- a very important segment, charged
with preparing the future generation -- seems stubbornly headed
in the opposite direction.
     In fact, as we pass through the last decade of the 20th century,
we are witnessing phenomena that no one in his right mind a mere
forty years ago would have dreamed could happen. Who, after the
close of the Second World War, would have said with any conviction
that the use of force to settle disputes between superpowers
would become a thing of the past? Who, during the Korean War,
would have guessed that even the largest and most modern of
military establishments would soon be powerless to impose their
wills on even the tiniest nations -- Cyprus, Lebanon, Nicaragua,
Afghanistan, to name a few? Who, in the heyday of Stalin's power
in the late 40s. would have been foolish enough to predict that some
of the harshest Communist dictatorships would be pushed aside by
the populations they once ruled with an iron hand? True, the painful
remnants of brute force are abundantly evident in the world today,
in South Africa, in Central America, in Eastern Europe, in China, in
Southeast Asia, in Iran, in various parts of Africa. But everywhere,
even the people in power know that the bell is inexorably tolling for
unbridled authoritarianism, and people of good faith and great
patience are laboring quietly and diligently to remove force from
human affairs.
     All this is obvious to the careful observer, who can see the forest
encompassing the trees. But, even as the world moves to accept
freedom of speech, freedom of choice, and open debate as more
fruitful methods for solving problems and advancing the human race,
people responsible for the schooling of our children are ever more
vocally demanding the imposition of severer discipline and restrictions.
I cannot make any sense out of it? If coercion isn't working in any
other domain, what makes educators who have been born and bred
in the United States think that it will work in school here?
     I am aware as the next person of the problems facing schools. In
a nutshell, they are not producing the goods. Their clients, the
students, are fleeing of them in record numbers; those that stay do
not seem to be doing what is required from them. Graduates are
often asocial, amoral, and incompetent. A general malaise pervades
the whole system, from administrators to teachers to students. What
we have is the typical symptomatology of a system about to collapse
from obsolescence and irrelevance. No remedy applied during the
past thirty years has worked. No magic cure is visible on the horizon.
All this is depressing news.
     What is happening among educators is that they are flailing about
for some way out of their hopeless situation. Understandably, instead
of revamping the whole school system from top to bottom, as they
should, they are looking for yet another band-aid to apply. Not so
understandably, the direction in which many of them seem to be
moving is that of increasing the pressure on the students -- exactly
the kind of move that everyone criticizes when it's done in any other
context. Thus, we see suggestions ranging from stricter discipline,
more homework, more required courses, more control of free time,
more punishment for poor academic performance, to revocation of
driving licenses for dropping out school. None of the lessons of the
past or the present seem to affect the people making these
proposals. Where have they been all these years? Did the
educators making these proposals pass their history courses?
Did the do well in Current Events?
     I assert, as a blanket proposition that in our schools, as elsewhere,
every proposal for reform that is based on any form of coercion
whatsoever is doomed to failure, and is wrong in its essence. This is a
litmus test that can be applied across the board. It is time that the
public make it clear to School Committees and administrators that
such proposals are not acceptable, and should not be considered.
I do not believe there is a simple panacea to our current school
problems, but I do know that whatever we try should be based on a
respect for the freedom of students and teachers to choose their
paths and to speak their minds.
["COERCION IS OBSOLETE IN SCHOOLS", Education in America --
  A View from Sudbury Valley, Daniel Greenberg, 1992, P. 16-18.]
Sudbury Valley School www.sudval.org

David Rovner rovners@netvision.net.il

---------- Original Message ----------

>A delightful, most intelligent, website. I'm going to subscribe to their
>Robert Swanson robertswanson@icehouse.net

>TCS is an educational philosophy. Its most distinctive feature is the idea
>that it is possible and desirable to bring up children entirely without
>doing things to them against their will, or making them do things against
>their will, and that they are entitled to the same rights, respect and
>control over their lives as adults.

>TCS rejects the "discipline is an expression of love" dogma that permeates
>conventional coercive parenting. Feeling love for another person does not
>confer the right to act towards them in a way that would be wrong if you did
>not love them. Love is no justification for tyranny.

>TCS Theory

> TCS is an educational philosophy. TCS is part of the rationalist tradition,
>holding that it possible for human beings, through conjecture, reason and
>criticism, to come to know (tentatively) and understand truths about the
>world. TCS is also part of the fallibilist tradition, holding that human
>beings make mistakes, and that fallibility has important implications for
>parenting and education. TCS highlights the importance of consent in human
>relationships, and explains how coercion impairs creativity, which is the
>ability to think, learn and solve problems in the widest sense. TCS
>represents a profound criticism of prevailing theories of education and
>parenting, and provides a positive alternative.

> .................

>TCS: the Taking Children Seriously Journal

>Compulsory teaching is the destruction of innocence, forcing the victims to
>waste the opportunity, which comes only once in each lifetime, to encounter
>that knowledge for the first time. It is no wonder, then, that pumping
>information prematurely into people's minds simply triggers emergency
>procedures that do everything in their power to shield the recipient from
>engaging with that information, and that the usual result is the permanent
>destruction of the recipient's ability to engage with information of that

> .....................

>TCS Short Glossary

>when we say "education", we do not mean what most people mean, namely the
>process of forcing people to memorise some predetermined information or
>acquire some standardised skill or behaviour. According to that definition,
>you "educate" paper when you print the telephone directory on it.

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