DSM: RE: why democracy


Alan or Laura Gabelsberg (argable@swbell.net)
Mon, 26 Mar 2001 10:36:51 -0600


What a nicely stated explanation of what I’ve been trying to
understand/process. Thank you Rebecca! I believe kids need a community to
learn in that offers more than parents alone can offer. Democracy just
makes sense given our society. Thanks to all who helped clarify TCS
philosophy (Mike and other who contributed to the discussion) – I am new to
all of this. (And a little embarrassed that I apparently know a lot less
than I thought) Still – I must admit - reading Why Children Fail by John
Holt, which was suggested reading on the TCS web site has been very
interesting to me, and helped solidify WHY we must release some of our
control of what/how children learn. Coercion just doesn’t make sense given
how children learn. But we (society) need the community – children need the
community. A good way to build that community for them is what Sudbury is
doing. There may be other valid ways to build good learning communities
too. But democracy is a really good way IMO.

Laura

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-discuss-sudbury-model@aramis.sudval.org
[mailto:owner-discuss-sudbury-model@aramis.sudval.org]On Behalf Of highland
Sent: Monday, March 26, 2001 9:26 AM
To: discuss-sudbury-model@aramis.sudval.org
Cc: Rebecca Roth
Subject: DSM: why democracy

    I've been following Marko's, and now Ben's, threads on coercion,
consensus, Taking Children Seriously, and Sudbury Model Schools. Several
points occur to me all relating to why we need to practice - and understand
WHY we practice - democratic process in these schools. Democracy is more
than a convenient form of government - it is ALL of our daily living
together. It is what allows and supports individual choice and a
non-coercive environment.
    The assumptions underlying democratic living are critical and cannot be
violated without harming both the community and the individuals who make it
up. Each individual is unique and intrinsically valuable -hence we
safeguard individual rights. The process of doing democracy means protecting
diversity of ideas (even undemocratic ones), respecting each person's right
to contribute to the conversation and take from it what he or she chooses,
creating an environment that supports each individual's rights to "life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Decision making by one person one
vote and majority rules is just a part of what doing democracy is about.
The ability to change and grow based on experience is another vital part of
democratic life. If through experiencing the consequences of our choices we
discover something better, we can decide to change. By protecting the rights
of the minority on any issue we have dissenting voices helping us reflect on
what we've done. The bottom line is that democratic living is the only way
to ensure individual freedom and benefit as a community from each of our
member's experiences.
      If all we are about is protecting children's rights to pursue their
interests, then it may not matter whether we have a benevolent dictatorship,
a consensus model, or the anarchy inherent in the TCS approach. If what we
are about is creating a free community and supporting the choices of unique
individuals, then it does matter. As a parent, I know that some of the most
pervasive, coercive influences I exerted on my children were completely
unintentional on my part. What has helped both me and them has been the
presence of other free, reflective people who were willing to point out my
"blind spots" and support us in dealing with them. Perhaps, if we were all
the products of perfect parenting in utopian societies, we wouldn't need
democratic interactions to grow. I still think we would choose democratic
living as the best way to enhance (and enjoy) our growth. Candy Landvoigt



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