Re: DSM: RE: JC and SM

John Axtell (
Mon, 05 Mar 2001 09:47:26 -0800


I find the assertion that rules created by my peers are "better" than rules
created by a dictator to be unfounded. It is simply placing a different value
on who makes the rules. The SV child that is somehow convinced that the rules
of her peers are just has just been conned, probably by peer pressure, which is
why my kids never went to "public" school.

I feel the main point in interpersonal relationships and freedom within a group
is helping each individual internalize external values that they, without
intimidation, understand the value in.

It makes no difference to me if a superintendent of schools or the
"democratically" elected student body council makes a rule that throwing food
in the classroom is unacceptable. The key here is why is the person where they
are at? What do they want to achieve ? and can it be achieved in the
environment they have chosen to be in?

I find that superintendents make far fewer rules than parents or peer groups

In working with "my peers" parents with kids in schools, I find them to be
totally incompetent in understanding the issues at hand and I find the
Superintendent of the District to fully understand the issues at hand. He knows
how to work the system and allow real freedom while the parents want the school
run "their way". (Happens to be a group of Christians.)

I find it difficult to understand why some individuals do not think a
professional educator is not as gifted as a professional doctor or lawyer. I
fail to understand why every parent thinks they know how to educate a child but
feel incompetent when it comes to pulling a tooth or getting their kids out of

The nice thing about education is that if there are no goals every person

John Axtell

Joe Jackson wrote:

> > I would think that any system that bases it's order in
> > punishments, bases it's order in fear.
> This assertion presupposes that people do not naturally want to fit in a
> community, and therefore have to be incited to an emotional state to follow
> community norms. It is not borne out by what we see in the schools.
> What we see is that people naturally want to live in a community. They
> balance that desire with a need for self-expression. This is normal.
> Occasionally the need for expression overloads the ability of the community
> to handle it. This is also normal, and is when the community should
> feedback to the individual.
> Since I know you've actually been in a Judicial Committee, Marko, I know you
> are aware that the first (and possibly second) stage of that feedback is
> verbal communication or a warning. It is not punishment.
> So knowing the limits and the consequences, a person who persists in
> breaking them is not acting in fear of punishment!
> What *does* comes up often in cases where folks have a problem with
> respecting the community feedback is not fear, but frustration. This
> frustration is what occurs upon realizing that the limits are really set by
> the community in our schools, and not arbitrarily by an adult, and it
> finally sinks in that s/he is violating the norms of a community of peers.
> This realization sometimes takes a little while for new students (especially
> teens).
> Frustration is what happens when a person realizes their limitations,
> whether the limitations are in their knowledge or understanding surrounding
> a given subject, or limitations in their ability to coexist in a community.
> The limitations inform the student.
> The frustration is a priceless asset to the student - it represents an inner
> conflict between their desires and limitations. Given the Sudbury
> environment and time, the desires always win.
> Remove the Sudbury environment = robbing the student of the internal
> conflict by giving him an authoritarian target standing behind the rules to
> focus on instead of his limitations - the rules are no longer an embodiment
> of community norms; they are merely some guy's rules. Remove adequate time
> in the SM school the student needs to get that the rules are really created
> by their peers and not just another adult trick and she won't ever have the
> opportunity to focus inward.
> Much as boredom is the precursor to inspiration, our experience is that this
> frustration is generally the precursor to personal epiphany. The SM school
> should not seek to "relieve" the student of the frustration - that would be
> stealing.
> Joe Jackson

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