DSM: Re: Lessons

Alan Klein (Alan@klein.net)
Wed, 4 Apr 2001 20:05:52 -0400

Marko asks, "Should the teachers initiate lessons, to offer them even
without direct interest from students."

I'll jump in here!

SVS adherents would say No. Summerhill adherents would say Yes.

I say that it is OK, so long as it is abundantly clear, to staff, to
students, and to parents, that attendance is voluntary. I know that SVS
folks draw a "bright line" here. They will say that we as a culture, and the
kids and staff who come to our schools as part of that culture, are too
indoctrinated with the idea that kids need to follow what adults say. They
worry that the offering of classes by staff will be taken by many as the
delineation of a school-sponsored curriculum, which is, of course, anathema
to democratic schooling.

I am not unsympathetic to that concern. It is outweighed, for me though, by
a vision of living the true equality of all members of the School Meeting.
Kids can offer classes, even if no one else has asked for them. So too can

Offering a class for me, much as Danny points out in a chapter of one of the
early SVS books, is a bit like offering a piece of entertainment. I can post
fliers that say, "Come to my performance of 'Alan Teaches Calculus' " and
see who's interested. That said, my time might be better spent being fully
present with the students and listening to and responding to their expressed
needs. If I spend all of my time offering classes that no one wants, I may
find myself out of a job!

Whether or not resources will be allocated to such classes by the SM,
without evidence that someone is interested in participating in them is, of
course, another story!

~Alan Klein

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