RE: DSM: Re: the need for rules

Mary Ryan Thorup (
Thu, 08 Mar 2001 18:41:26 -0500

About Rules:

I think it is important to keep in mind that, according to Claude Levi
Strauss and others, the larger a population, the more complex and diverse
the members of it are. There tend to be more rules the larger a society
is. This is because we cannot make assumptions as easily, and because
individuals, the larger the group, act more anonymously. I also find the
further one moves a way from living in one's natural state, the more
complex life is. Interpretation of rules of a small society require
groundedness, practicality, a sense of humor!--for God's sake!

Mary Ryan

From: John Axtell[]
Reply To:
Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2001 12:57 PM
Subject: Re: DSM: Re: the need for rules


I take a very strong exception that you choose to suggest that my use of
the word
"God" is inappropriate for this list.

I can not find any evidence in my e-mail that my reference to "God" implies
I am referring to "my" God. This is the second time in a week that someone
assumed that I said something I did not say. The other person took it upon
himself to assume that a spanking was the result of a parent's decision
than the democratically instituted punishment agreed to with a neighborhood

I should make it clear the reference is in regard to the ten commandments
in the Bible that is used by Christians around the world as the basis for
religion. I should probably also make it clear that in that book, after God
ten commandments men managed to continue to make more and more rules that,
depending on one's opinion, did or did not have any basis.

The point I was trying to make, and may have failed to make, was yes, I do
believe that good ideas usually start with a short statement and a very few
rules, for example the United States. A nice short Declaration of
and a Bill of Rights seemed to be enough. As the United States has grown it
managed to put so many rules together through a democratic process that we
have the highest ratio of citizens in jail to those out of jail than any
in the world. Through that democratic process we seem to be achieving the
distinction of having more shootings in our democratically created schools,
through many, many rules, than any country in the world. Yes I have grave
as to the value of a preponderance of rules!

If this list can not tolerate differing viewpoints and philosophies the
concept of the SV model is a true joke.

I also disagree with your quote that follows:

"Rules constitute the main protection for reason, intellect,
objectivity, and detachment in a group context, as opposed to feeling and
emotion. This is because rules ritualize the equality of all views and all
people." (p. 166)

Rules ritualize the inequality of all views and lift some far higher than
And for what reason should we protect "reason, intellect (whatever that may
objectivity (does anyone really believe there is such an entity that can be
agreed upon) in a group context". What makes a person a real person -
feeling and
emotion or the ability to function according to someone else's rules?

This gets me to one of the points I continually watch in the discussions of
list. As much talk as there is of the value of the freedom and respect
given each
individual student the discussions seem to focus on the rules of the model.
I am
beginning to conclude, possibly in error, that the rules and the
enforcement of
the rules is central to the model, which the above quote would seem to
as would the fact that you somehow feel there is a rule that makes the use
of the
word "God" on this list serve "inappropriate" - did I break someone's rule

I look forward to your response.

John Axtell wrote:

> This is Robert Murphy from Cedarwood.
> I am responding to John Axtell ( who was responding to Marko Koskinen) as
> quoted below.
> <<
> > But if somebody/something (community) gives itself the right to
> > that person for what s/he did, then it becomes a moral issue.
> >
> <<<
> >>Marko,
> >>The right to punish a person has, in my philosophy, noting to do with
> morality but
> >>with power. . .
> >>. . .As you design your school I suggest you ask just how many "rules"
> really need.
> >>God only needed to make 10. It may be because people choose not to
> those 10 they
> >>perceive the need for millions :)
> >>In developing policy and guidelines for our school I have found the
> for a
> >>minimum of rules. In fact almost everything I write empowers people
> encourages
> >>them to do something - not prevent them from doing something.
> >>I have been writing policy for over 30 years and I normally find that
> best policy
> >>expands people's visions while limiting them from getting themselves,
> others, into
> >>dangerous areas without proper review. After all the only reason to
> policy is to
> >>have a set of parameters within which to freely operate and then know
> to call a
> >>meeting of the appropriate individuals when you need to violate the
> >>John Axtell >>
> John,
> I admit I 'm a bit of a bureaucrat, so there's my bias. So, I agree that
> great many of the rules that spring up around here are about empowering
> people (individuals, clerks, committees, corporations. . .) to undertake
> certain activities, while preserving oversight at the School Meeting
level -
> which keeps access to the regulation these activities within everyone's
> reach. But, I disagree with what seems to be a negative value you place
> rules ("the fewer the better".)
> See Free at Last, Chapter 12, 22, & 27; and The Sudbury Valley School
> Experience, (pp 140-148.)
> Also, The SVS Experience's defense of the use of "Robert's Rules of
Order," I
> think, is a good justification of the rule of law, and the proliferation
> rules in general. (pp166-173.) Among other relevant passages:
> "Rules constitute the main protection for reason, intellect,
> objectivity, and detachment in a group context, as opposed to feeling and
> emotion. This is because rules ritualize the equality of all views and
> people." (p. 166)
> Additionally, as it is my understanding that this is List-serve is not
> restricted to those of a particular faith, I think your reference to your
> "God" as universal, is inappropriate.
> Respectfully,
> Robert

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b3 on Thu Mar 29 2001 - 11:16:58 EST