DSM: RE: JC and SM

Joe Jackson (shoeless@jazztbone.com)
Mon, 5 Mar 2001 00:28:33 -0500


This sounds like mediation, which several of our schools (including
Fairhaven) have in place as an optional alternative or adjunct to JC. So
far, I don't believe any of the schools have decided to use mediation

While I don't have a problem with mediation as an option, I have a big
problem with the idea of it being the sole option. A person who perceives
themselves victim of a grievance should not be required to go through a
mediation, "problem solving" or any other therapeutic session in order to
exist at the school peacably.

Notwithstanding the benign nature of mediation or "problem solving sessions"
as a conflict resolution tool per se, as a sole means of resolving disputes
it would represent a *mandatory class* for those who would assert their
right to exist free of harassment and injury; an externally-applied human
relations curriculum.

While the JC does require some involvement from the victim in order for them
to use the process to assert their right to exist free from harrassment and
injury, at least it does not attempt to force the victim/plaintiff (or the
defendant, in fact) to engage in what is in effect a counseling session,
like a mandatory mediation process would.

Furthermore, I dispute the underlying assumption, which is that the school
should preemptively attempt to solve problems individuals are having that
may or may not be causing them to violate the rights of others. Learning
how to behave in a community is no different than learning anything else in
the school.

To expand your line of reasoning, Marko, when someone does not know
something, there is usually some reason for it, and a school that attempts
to "solve" why students are not ready to learn something is training
students to rely on external intervention and motivation.

Sudbury schools seek to be the antithesis to schools that cultivate such

JC (the embodiment of community limits on individual rights) focuses on the
"results of the problem" just like the limits of not knowing something in
life impact directly from (and speak to) the results of not knowing it.
These are the precious real-life experiences that inform the student of
their limitations and allow them to initiate the discovery of their inner

External curricula (like the mandatory mediation scenario I am
hypothesizing) drowns out the inner self.

Students should be allowed to develop the internal motivation to overcome
reasons they are violating the rights of others just as they are allowed to
develop the internal motivation to learn anything else. While mediation,
like classes, are excellent tools, they should not be a mandatory element of
the Sudbury environment.

Joe Jackson
Fairhaven School

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-discuss-sudbury-model@aramis.sudval.org
> [mailto:owner-discuss-sudbury-model@aramis.sudval.org]On Behalf Of Marko
> Koskinen
> Sent: Sunday, March 04, 2001 10:44 PM
> To: Sudbury Valley mailing list
> Subject: DSM: JC and SM
> I would like to start some discussion about alternative approaches to
> Judicial Committee and the School Meeting.
> My biggest critique is towards the JC. It works fine as it is and it
> does it's job well as such, but I think that it might not be the best
> alternative.
> The reasons for this are that I consider JC to lack the ability to focus
> on the problems, but rather focus on the results of the problems. When
> someone does something "illegal", there usually is some reason for it
> and I can't see how punishments could be the best alternative to solve
> them. I would think that any system that bases it's order in
> punishments, bases it's order in fear. Third issue is that JC leaves the
> problem solving totally to the "guilty" person. The bad feeling about
> "doing something wrong" isn't enough, but the person will have to deal
> it on his/her own.
> Now, I would think that there might be some better alternatives for
> problem solving than JC. We have been discussing this at our starting
> list and here's something that we've thought about.
> Instead of JC there would be some amount of staff or students who would
> be assigned as "problem solvers" and in any case where somebody would
> feel bad about something or someone, they could go to one PS and tell
> about it. Then the PS would gather all people involved in the problem
> and let them deal with the problem on their own, unless they want
> someone to be a "chair" in the negotiation, in which case they could ask
> that person to join their "problem solving session". This session would
> consist of each participant telling about their involvement in the
> problem and their feelings about it. The session would go on until the
> problem would be solved. If the group comes to a conclusion that someone
> has done something wrong, then it would be up to that person to figure
> out how to make up with it. Nobody else would be allowed to "punish"
> that person. If the person doesn't undo the problem satisfyingly then
> the problem would probably be brought up again.
> This kind of procedure would free the school meeting of any
> "unnecessary" involvement in private problems and give it more time to
> handle issues that deal with the whole community and the running of the
> school.
> This "problem solving method" would still hold everybody responsible of
> their own actions, but wouldn't leave them alone with it. It would make
> people closer to each other due to intimate discussion about feelings
> and problems rather than seperating them with punishments. It would also
> focus on the problem rather than the result of the problem. This would
> also free much time from "unnecessary" bureaucracy and bring the
> problems more to a personal level.
> I would love to hear about your thoughts about this issue and if someone
> has tried this kind or similar approach that would also be interesting.
> Marko

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