Re[2]: DSM: Genes and environment (was: About TCS)

David Rovner (
Sun, 4 Mar 2001 19:50:40 +0200

I find myself agreeing much more with Daniel Greenberg's
look at the subject in his chapter "What do we want to achieve
in our Schools?", Education in America, p. 71, when he writes,
for instance, "Here's an example of how hard it is to make
sense of things. Suppose I could wave a magic wand and
bring into existence a school system that automatically
produced firs class geniuses. Would anyone want to send
their children to it? How many of us would want our child to
be a Van Gogh, one of the transcendently great painters,
who was so tortured that he ended his days committing
suicide in an insane-asylum?. . . etc. etc. . .Geniuses almost
invariably lead difficult lives . . . Is this the kind of life we want
for our children? . . .
Different people will prefer different goals for their children
and different children will want different goals for themselves . . ."


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


>I very much agree with you, but would add one thing. While I don't believe
>in "The Exposure Principle", I do believe in "The Environment Factor". It
>is no accident that SVS, for example, has blocks, books, paints, woodworking
>materials, a pond, etc., etc., etc. The SM didn't vote these things in, at
>least at first. Some adults got together, searched for and found the site,
>and "seeded" it with materials. Certainly the SM has had great impact on
>what is available currently at the school, but I daresay that considerable
>thought was given in the early days as to what resources people (adults)
>wanted to see at the school to begin with.

>~Alan Klein

>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Bruce Smith" <>
>To: <>
>Sent: Saturday, March 03, 2001 10:23 PM
>Subject: Re: DSM: Genes and environment (was: About TCS)

>> >I don't really think you can blame genetics or environment for behavior
>> >both combine to effect it so much that it is sometimes very hard to tell
>> >which is responsible for behavior (good or bad).
>> At Sudbury schools, we consider each individual responsible for her/his
>> behavior. Period. Examining influences on behavior is a fun intellectual
>> exercise; but at the school, what matters is the choices people make, and
>> their responsibility for the outcome of those choices.
>> >What if Einstien had never
>> >been exposed to math or Mozart to music? Would they have discovered
>> >inborn talents anyway?
>> Yeah, I _suppose_ someone could have locked them in closets for their
>> entire childhood, and *maybe* they never would have been exposed to such
>> basic, ubiquitous phenomena as music and math...
>> >I think exposure is important because without it none of us would learn
>> >our true talents lie.
>> >Maybe genetics help guide us and environment exposes us. A combination
>> >of guidance and exposure helps talent emerge.
>> My problem with the whole concept of "exposure" is that it tends to
>> externalize learning, make it passive, and allow authority figures to
>> direct it. That is, in the common understanding of the term, there is
>> someone doing the exposing, and someone receiving this exposure. Too
>> often, well-meaning people use the exposure argument as an excuse to
>> micro-manage others' (typically, kids') environments: they fear that
>> children will not be exposed to the "right" things, and will instead be
>> exposed to all sorts of "wrong" things.
>> The curiosity inherent in human nature will, if not stifled, result in
>> individuals exposing _themselves_ (hmm...this could get ugly :) to an
>> incredibly wide range of things. It's the randomness of freedom (with
>> responsibility) that does the trick, not guidance and exposure.
>> Bruce

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