Re: DSM: Can it be too big?

Scott Gray (
Wed, 21 Mar 2001 22:57:45 -0500 (EST)

  You asked for my thoughts on how large a Sudbury school could be in
theory (assuming room to grow a campus, and as many capable and committed
staff as needed). I'll give you two different answers; 275-325 or

  A school that looks and feels like the schools we know and love: Maybe
275-325 people. Much larger and a person who makes a concerted effort
still won't know _every_ person in the school.

  I think a larger community could still be true to what we think of as
the Sudbury Model, but it would be quite different in terms of the actual
look and feel of the community. It would take some innovation _by_ the
community to deal with a larger size if it was in the 325-500 range.
  I don't know what would work in practice, but some means (I think) would
be needed to be certain that any given person could _find_ another person
(judicial summons, a persons ride has arrived, etc). Perhaps
self-selected "houses" within the school or some similar system for
breaking down the school into more managable groupings.
  Once you get up to 500 people and have it work (and I suspect it could
work -- I just don't know which _particular_ sets of large-scale solutions
a given community would choose), I couldn't see any reason to doubt the
ability to keep scaling up and up; 1000 people, 5000, 50000. At a certain
point, what one would have is a Sudbury model university or village, which
would indeed have a very different look and feel from what we are used to
in our schools.

  That isn't to say that I would prefer to be _in_ a Sudbury Model
University. Or that I wouldn't. Some people would prefer (for their own
reasons) to be part of a more modest school with 175-250 people in it,
while others would take the school of 10000. Vive la differance -- I am
sure that if any of our schools ever attracted 10000 students, that plenty
of support could be found for those people who wanted something smaller

  Anyhow, here's hoping that someday these questions aren't hypothetical.

On Wed, 21 Mar 2001, CindyK wrote:

> I have my own hypotheses about how
> > large such schools can grow, but they are really irrelevent
> > --Scott David Gray
> I would be interested to hear your hypotheses if you'd be willing to share
> them. I understand that every school will be different and there are
> inumerable variables involved. I just want to play with the idea a little.
> Does it get difficult to make decisions and hold effective school meetings
> with a larger group of people? or does the democratic setting automatically
> take care of it? Does it take more time with a larger group? SVS would
> really have a lot of history with this one because they have been both small
> and now quite large (in comparison). They have also honed the process over
> the years so it may seem easier now even with the larger numbers than it did
> in the early years with smaller numbers.
> In play,
> CindyK

--Scott David Gray
reply to:
In spite of oppressors, in spite of false leaders, in spite
of labor's own lack of understanding of its needs, the cause
of the worker continues onward. Slowly his hours are
shortened, giving him leisure to read and to think. Slowly
his standard of living rises to include some of the good and
beautiful things of the world. Slowly the cause of his
children becomes the cause of all. His boy is taken from the
breaker, his girl from the mill. Slowly those who create
the wealth of the world are permitted to share it. The
future is in labor's strong, rough hands.

-- Mary Harris "Mother" Jones

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