Re: DSM: 1st meeting advice?

From: Allan Saugstad (
Date: Mon Apr 23 2001 - 15:20:39 EDT


I would love to answer any questions you have about our philosophy.

As it really is just a work in progress, any discussion around it will greatly
help me clarify what we really mean by what we say, and help us edit it as time
goes by.

Feel free to e-mail me privately or via this discussion group.


Alan or Laura Gabelsberg wrote:

> Impressive statement. Thank you so much for sharing it. I have some food
> for thought.
> It leads me to many more questions which you may or may not want to answer.
> So let me first ask - would you be willing to help me understand your vision
> better by asking some of these questions in this environment (or privately)?
> Thanks,
> Laura
> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> []On Behalf Of Allan
> Saugstad
> Sent: Friday, April 20, 2001 6:44 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: DSM: 1st meeting advice?
> Laura, Robin, Connie, et all,
> Well, here's our vision. Sorry Connie, it's not a statement like I said;
> it's a
> rambling 3 page document we are working on.
> You will notice that there is quite an emphasis on family, which is
> different
> from the sudbury model. We want it to be a place where both children and
> parents
> feel comfortable being and learning; we are hoping that parents will be
> involved
> in mentoring children and each other in numerous ways. The only limit on
> this
> would be the choice of the children; obviously if my child didn't want me
> around
> I would stay away. We are a group of families who have valued our connection
> to
> our kids and we want to extend that connection as our children grow, while
> respecting their need to grow away from us and be influenced by others.
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> --------------
> We have a wish. Our wish is to be a part of a learning community which
> gathers
> in a place where there is friendly company, inspiring resources, and people
> young and old sharing what they have to offer; A place which is an extension
> of
> each families home, a comfortable space suspended between home and the
> larger
> community.
> We envision creating a space where:
> children and their families can gather to share learning experiences,
> resources, passions and interests with each other
> we can guide children in learning from their own experiences, where they
> can
> formulate and ask their own questions, experiment, play and learn freely and
> happily
> people of all ages can make things, explore and discover, and through
> these
> processes learn self-evaluation and develop individual learning paths
> the skills and energy of parents, children, and interested community
> members
> provide learning opportunities and mentoring to each other (as we all know,
> kids
> are mentors too; they share their big spirits and we are challenged and
> bettered
> by it!)
> Our Philosophy
> We believe that self direction within a varied and supportive environment is
> essential to deep learning. Here's an explanation of where our
> understanding is
> now. We are aware that our children learn by what they experience. And we've
> noticed that if they fully experience something with an eagre and open
> heart,
> they learn in a way which is authentic, in that they feel the learning
> naturally
> fits them. Their hearts can only be open to something they choose. If they
> have
> the freedom to choose, then they have ownership of the choice, which means
> they
> experience the power of responsibility. If the experience fits with the
> child's
> inherent truth (natural sense of honesty, compassion, and responsiveness)
> the
> child learns wholely, with integrity. If an answer is given before the
> question
> is asked, it's not an answer but an assumption to be adopted, for there is
> no
> inner space ready and searching. We have noticed that if a child is forced
> to
> follow another's interests, values and goals rather than following what they
> feel ready and searching for, they may cope by overriding or dis-attaching
> from
> their true sense of curiosity, attentiveness, and responsibility. This is
> why we
> believe a curriculum, or a set of learning goals, which is not sought and
> chosen
> by the child, doesn't optimize learning. We've experienced that an open
> heart is
> protected by an environment free of threatened judgement (grading) and
> competitiveness (comparative evaluation).. We envision a learning community
> which aims to trust each childs' positive intent and self-authority. This
> explains some of our present musing about curriculum, required attendance,
> and
> grading. It also explains our parental struggle to trust childishness
> despite
> some of our conditioning We, as adults in this community, are excited to
> share
> our lifelong learning process, both by sharing what we already know, and by
> learning with the kids a whole bunch of stuff we don't know yet. And we look
> forward to our family members being in the company of other family members
> who
> are developing their interests. We know that inspiration is catchy!
> To achieve this, we imagine the learning community and it's gathering space:
> will strive to respect and value the uniqueness of each child and hence
> will
> be a cooperative, non-comparative, and non-competitive environment where
> diversity is celebrated.
> will, in respect for self-directed learning, strive to create an
> environment
> free of extrinsic reward, punishment and other forms of coercion, and hence
> will
> not subject the children to grading
> will maintain the integrity of a non-coercive environment by accepting
> that
> children's attendance and participation in activities will be of their own
> choice and will not be required.
> will entrust children to make their own choices in their learning, and
> entrust
> families to directly support their children, maintaining overall
> responsibility
> for their children's education.
> will be cooperatively run with a paid ( hopefully funded) coordinator and
> democratically directed by both adult and child members in the spirit of
> "open
> space technology". The coordinator would, following the direction of
> members,
> order supplies, manage learning center space, keep track of finances,
> coordinate
> activities, organize field trips, and be a constant presence willing to
> offer
> help, when appropriate. We anticipate that having a coordinator would avoid
> parent burnout in administrative and organizational tasks, and allow more
> energy
> for supporting children directly, both at the center and in other
> environments
> our children are learning in (home, community and the big wide world!)
> How would this look practically?
> We envision a "Drop-in" space several days and/or evenings a week where
> children and parents (or children on their own if they choose) can use the
> resources available in the space ( books, art supplies, science equipment
> etc.)
> and can take part in spontaneous activities supported by our coordinator and
> volunteers; a place where people can just come to hang out with friends.
> Courses
> and field trips could be planned based on children's interests.
> We also envision using the space for other family events
> One option we are exploring is to obtain independent school funding for
> our
> project. If we can do this without compromising our principles it will
> allow us
> to cover the cost of the coordinator and some of the costs of maintaining
> the
> center. Allan is researching this option and is quite optimistic. Al is
> currently working in the public school system and is working with us to
> bring
> this vision to a reality for his family.
> We envision a community which cherishes families and their individual needs
> and
> perspectives. It follows then, that the structure and decisions around the
> learning center will be reflective of this respect for each family's needs
> (in
> keeping with the philosophy of children's choice being respected).
> Practically,
> this would reflect the wishes of parents with work commitments as well as
> parents who wish to be more involved with their children days. Hopefully,
> through a combination of the gathering place's offerings and supportive
> friendship, parents could plan to both meet some work commitments and
> actively
> share in the learning community.
> As individual families with positive intention for our children and our
> community, we look forward to working together honestly to support each
> other,
> sharing our passions, and working with our differences to build something
> wonderful.
> May our children learn freely by passion and responsibility and may we as
> parents learn alongside them.
> Allan

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0.0 : Mon Nov 05 2001 - 20:24:28 EST