Re: DSM: Hashing out philosophy

Diablo Valley School (
Fri, 9 Mar 2001 13:51:28 -0800

Hi, everyone. This is Amy, founder and staff at Diablo Valley School, a
Sudbury school in CA. I wanted to put in my two cents worth about the discussion
around JC vs. PS (or whatever). I am a professional in Holistic Health whose
purpose is to assist others to heal from all types of ailments, whether
emotional or physical. I could have chosen a school that would provide a more
skewed environment in support of my own views of the world (Waldorf for
example). Choosing Sudbury provided, to me, a far more valuable structure to
create the necessary qualities for success in all aspects of life and health. In
founding a Sudbury school, I am aware that the students who attend are receiving
an opportunity to heal from wounds that they have. It has never been my
intention to consciously assist them with this healing process, unless they
request classes with this focus. However, my experience has been that the way
the JC system is designed works perfectly to achieve this end,
whether it is intentional or not.

The fact that the JC provides a neutral forum for people to speak calmly
(and sometimes not) about the way they are being treated is a powerful tool in
which to learn that we are ultimately responsible for our lives. This
opportunity extends to the adults who are members of our school as well, and I
have seen much improvement in our ways of relating as much as in the children.
Myself included! Self-responsibility as a way to achieve health and well-being
is an idea that is expressed through many spiritual philosophies around the
world. The idea of responsibility also happens to be the base of our
country's constitution.

The safety that the JC provides for expressing one's true opinion in a
matter of fact way, I feel, is of utmost importance. The almost impersonal
attitudes that come with complaints can be very helpful. Sometimes, complaints
are written in an emotional state. When the complaint is finally heard, the
emotion has either had time to dissipate or to be nurtured by the complainant.
If it has dissipated, then the complaint is either dropped or presented in a
very matter of fact tone. It appears that you broke this rule, therefore, this
complaint will deal with it. If the emotion is still present, then this may in
effect, convince others to either vote in favor or, many times, against the
complaint. The emotion itself can be a deterrent to other School Meeting members
when they choose how to vote. As a school becomes more established, one of the
most beautiful transitions to watch, is how students begin to bravely speak
their opinions and vote differently than their friends. Just today in our
JM (Judicial Meeting: we require everyone to attend because we are a small
school), a lot of people chose not to vote on an issue. When the chair
asked those people why they didn't vote, a normally quiet 13 year old boy stated
"I don't want to say what I think." It was amazing because this kid usually
complains about the length of the meetings and tries to talk people out of
charging or writing complaints in order to shorten the meetings.

The therapeutic value of this environment is, to me, very apparent. It
allows each person to be themselves in a way that provides an opportunity to
experiment with many behaviors and choose what feels best to the individual. To
me, the importance is, not that it is therapeutic, but rather, that every person
deserves and has the right to be treated respectfully regardless of age or
style. The JC forum provides this respect, allowing each person to speak
(hopefully without interruption) their own opinions without judgement or
criticism.The verbal agility of the students who have been in school longer,
regardless of age, is amazing to witness. In conclusion, I want to reiterate
that I have found the Sudbury structure to provide exactly what it says it will
and very effectively. I no longer have a goal of healing children, which takes a
great responsibility off my shoulders and frees me to simply be in relationship
with them. My own weaknesses are accepted readily by them and we all find in
this environment the safety to make the changes in ourselves that will move us
forward in life towards our own personal goals quite successfully with great
feelings of support surrounding us.

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



Sent: 03/07/01 9:10:25 PM

Subject: Re: DSM: Hashing out



One thing that I have found that works pretty well with my spirited

old son and the other kids at his pre-school is to say things like "C, it

looks to me like Katie is sad", "Katie, you can use your words to tell C

how you feel", etc. Obviously, I wasn't in the situation, so I
have no

idea if some hypothetical thing I would come up with would actually make

sense in the context or not. But, generally speaking, I have
been pleased

with my son's increasing ability to "use his words" and I constantly

him to tell people how he feels, without harassing him about it when he

obviously isn't receptive. I hope I have had an impact on his

comfort with his emotions, but I have no way of knowing. Kids

are not a proper experiment with a control group, etc. ;-)


In my opinion, one of the most important things to learn as one grows up

is to "use one's words". From everything I have seen, heard, and

students in Sudbury-model schools really excel at this.


And, FYI, one of my favorite books about this type of subject is Parent

Effectiveness Training.


Todd Robinson



At Wed, 7 Mar 2001 21:03:45 -0500, "CindyK" wrote:



 Hi all,


 I have been reading Starting a Sudbury School and love it. I
just read


 appendix 3, Only the Hopeful by Nan Narboe. It talks about
The Real

 and =

 The Nice. I think that I am one of the Real. I
know that children

 will =

 not always be happy and I don't have a problem with them being bored.

  I =

 also realize that reading it and living it are two different things.

  I =

 have some questions about how to handle children when they are =

 interacting. I will tell you what happened today, how I
handled it,

  how =

 my friend handled it and maybe someone could let me know if we are way


 off or at least close to on track.


 My daughter, Katie, just turned 4. She is a very easy going


 most of the time. My friend C came over with her 4.5 year
old daughter


 S. S is very verbally advanced and likes the world of
adults. She


 loves to converse with grown ups. As soon as S walks in the
door she


 looks at katie and notices that she is wearing short
sleeves. S =

 says,"Katie, it's the middle of winter, what are you doing wearing a


 t-shirt?!" She says it with a condescending face. Katie
didn't say


 anything back but I could feel how she felt attacked. Being
her mother


 and unable to stop myself at this point, I answered, "I like to wear


 t-shirts in the winter. Everybody's
different. Maybe she just felt


 like wearing a t-shirt today because it's warm in the
house." That

 was =

 the end of that and they went off to play. As I thought
about what


 happened, I realized that I had probably given Katie the underlying


 message that she can't solve her own problems. Is that
right? I should


 have let her deal with it on her own or come to me for help when SHE


 chose to. It's just sooo hard as the mother of a child who
is being

 put =

 down by another.


 Later on, Katie drew a picture for S. When she gave it to
her, S. =

 declared that "That's not how you draw people!" And she
proceeded to


 tell katie how to draw people properly with a stomach and a belly

 button. Now S's mother doesn't say that her drawings are
done wrong

 so =

 we don't know where she got this from. I wanted to say that


 draws differently as again I could just feel Katie's
hurt. But this


 time I kept my mouth shut. But it didn't end
there. S started to =

 loudly declare that she didn't like Katie's drawing and she wasn't


 to take it home with her. Very loudly, over and over
repeating it.


 Again I wanted to say something but I didn't. My friend, C
was beside


 herself. She didn't know what to do. She has
tried to tell S about


 hurting other people's feelings in the past but that only sets her to


 declare loudly that she wants to hurt their feelings and that she

 doesn't care. It's very hard to listen to. What
do you do in a =

 situation like this? Just sit back and watch? C
ended up saying that


 she liked Katie's picture and wanted to take it home. She
got up and


 put it in her bag and then we moved on to something
else. After they


 left, I contemplated bringing it up with Katie, but again I held


 hoping she would come to me if she wanted to talk. She
did. About

 20 =

 minutes after they left we were having a snack and she said, "S didn't


 like my picture." Then she said, "C liked my picture
though." I then


 said, "Did you like your picture, Katie?" She answered
yes. So I said


 that that is what counts that she likes it and told her that everyone


 has different taste and like different things. Then I
couldn't help


 myself and I added that I liked her picture too. :) She
didn't seem

 too =

 upset by it all but clearly wanted to talk about it.


 I think I know how to handle Katie, it's the other child that my friend


 and I can't quite figure out. It's hard for C not to think
that her


 daughter deliberatley tries to hurt people sometimes and it's hard for


 her as the parent to watch it. She wonders what she did to
get this


 behaviour. Does anyone know how to handle an aggressor like
this (with


 deep respect and profound regard)? While she was here today,
she also


 stomped on Katie's foot because Katie wouldn't come and see something


 she wanted to show her. Does the "victim" always have to
file a =

 complaint before action is taken even if an adult sees it
happen? Do


 you explain to 4 year olds that they can file a
complaint? Do you ever


 remind them? ie. after an incident.


 I am trying to hash out the reality of this philosophy and sometimes


 it's just really hard to watch. Any help would be much








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