Re: DSM: Can it be too big?

Scott Gray (
Wed, 21 Mar 2001 23:11:04 -0500 (EST)

On Wed, 21 Mar 2001, Kaska Firor wrote:

> Research clearly demonstrates that schools with students in excess of 600
> rapidly self create anti-learning environments, regardless of the model.
> Some would argue a limit of 800. In any case, there is a threshold or limit
> to be concerned about and keep in mind.
> dr. tom.

  But, on the other hand, Sudbury Model Schools are only "schools" in
terms of their broadest aims. They share almost nothing else in common
with other institutions that call themselves schools -- institutions that
have a curriculum and a model in mind for how all members within the
school should develop.
  There is certainly evidence that institutions with a curriculum bottom
out by their own standards as they reach 500-800 members. This isn't too
surprising -- when you have a curriculum it takes a lot of very personal
_work_ to keep the students on the same page as the school; work that
becomes unmanagable once the school is too large to keep track of all of
its students.
  We simply don't know with Sudbury schools because none has come _close_
to 800 students. But a Sudbury school seems more analagous to a community
than to a traditional school, when one talks about scalability. And
communities seem to come in all sizes.

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Mike Sadofsky <>
> To: <>
> Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2001 10:18 PM
> Subject: Re: DSM: Can it be too big?
> > I'd l;ike to try to address this from a somewhat different
> > perspective.
> > SVS chose this democratic method of governance in the School Meeting
> > at least in part because that system remains in play in many
> > communities in this part of the country. Towns with populations on
> > the order of 20,000 people continue to govern themselves with a "town
> > meeting" held annually over several days/evenings, where propositions
> > of consequence are debated and voted upon in much the fashion that SVS
> > uses in the SM.
> > I would not presume to suggest that a Sudbury model school of 20,000
> > is viable, but I would suggest that at 200+, SVS has not approached a
> > limit to growth from the perspective of SM or JC size.
> > Mike
> > On Wed, 21 Mar 2001 21:49:00 -0500, you 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:
There is, on the whole, nothing on earth intended for
innocent people so horrible as a school.

-- G. B. Shaw

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