Re: DSM: JC and SM

John Axtell (
Mon, 05 Mar 2001 09:47:52 -0800


I think you are really headed in the right direction which may be the
opposite of the SV model of group decision making.

I have one suggestion to the direction you may be headed. Do your best to
make sure that the PS is trained in group processes and conflict resolution
and do not get all the involved parties together and then "let them have at
it" require the PS to stay and help them work through their areas of

My experience that large group processes, such as a JC or a general meeting
or whatever you want to call it, brings in negative dynamics and a lot of
people with no expertise. Small group dynamics are much easier to control
and to ensure that the time used is productive time. Emotions can be
shared/expressed that simply would never come out in a large meeting, or in
a big room for that matter.

I think you are right. Every "bad" behavior has a perfectly good and
totally justifiable reason for its existence, at least to the person
demonstrating the behavior. The task is to bring people with differing
"perfectly sound reasons" to a common consensus of how to get along in a
specific situation.

I think you are on the right track but I am not sure I know where the track
is supposed to end up, if we both keep peddling we just may get there :)

John Axtell

Marko Koskinen wrote:

> 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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