Re: DSM: 60 Minutes Piece

From: Scott David Gray (
Date: Wed May 02 2001 - 07:50:40 EDT

  That's what I loved about the story. I liked the fact that "the piece
emphasized the elements of Sudbury that people in traditional schools
would find the most 'freakish'" and that the piece faced head-on the major
difference between Sudbury Schools and traditional schools -- the fact
that we see nothing at all wrong with playing video games.
  If the episode had concentrated on people at study, with noses buried in
books, or engaged in high-sounding academic debate, the piece would have
been -- if not dishonest -- at least easily misinterpreted. People out
there would have gotten the impression that at Sudbury Schools kids do
what they _want_ but that clearly the adults coerce or cajole them to
"want" the right things.
  Yes, video games were perhaps a touch exaggerated. But so, frankly,
were one-on-one tutorials. Cooking and camping trips weren't in the
piece, I don't remember the rough trash-talking culture of four-square at
all. They had a limited amount of time to get footage, and that footage
was used well -- in that they stuck to the message of what the SVS
challenge to education actually _is_.
  In fifteen minutes, we couldn't hope to both _describe_ and convince
people _of_ our radical view. I'm glad that the piece concentrated on
putting forward our views in stark terms. The only way to sell something
as radical as SVS in 15 minutes is to lie about it -- and I'm glad that
they didn't do that because then we'd have to spend LOTS of time, energy,
money convincing people that we are _not_ what they think we are. This
way we can spend our energy actually showing people the proof that this is
the best sort of education that they could hope for.

  I find it interesting that people who work _inside_ Sudbury Model
schools almost all agree that the piece was very positive, while
sympathetic people outside of the schools felt that the story was
  I think that perhaps this difference is because the schools themselves
are used to being totally misrepresented in the press. We're used to
spending much of our time patiently explaining to parents "no, we are not
the sort of school that you think we are." People outside of the schools
may think that our real task is _proving_ ourselves to people, but in fact
the majority of our time is spent _explaining_ ourselves to people.

  And yes, for many kids, playing video games (in the social framework of
the video-games stalls) is by far the most important part of their day.

On Wed, 2 May 2001, Tammy Inman wrote:

> I must say that I expected more out of a respected news show like sixty
> minutes. I was shocked that they didn't interview a single Sudbury
> graduate. They also didn't seem to have done any research at all.
> The story seemed very manipulative to me. For every one shot of a child
> reading, they showed two shots of someone playing a video game. Since video
> games are often associated with what society thinks is wrong with today's
> kids, it was an effective subliminal message.
> Just out of curiosity. Do the children spend a great deal of time playing
> video games? Personally, I don't care if they do, but I got the feeling
> that it was a bit exagerated.
> Tammy
> >From: "Mitch Berg" <>
> >Reply-To:
> >To: <>
> >Subject: DSM: 60 Minutes Piece
> >Date: Tue, 1 May 2001 20:37:59 -0500
> >
> >I have seen almost no discussion of the "60 Minutes" piece on Sudbury last
> >Sunday. So I'll toss out my observations.
> >
> >Background: I'm a former reporter and producer. I have strong opinions on
> >news coverage - and while 60 Minutes is certainly not bound to present
> >pro-Sudbury propaganda, I would have liked to see more balance. I'm also
> >NOT
> >involved in a Sudbury school at the moment, although if anyone from the
> >Twin
> >Cities is reading this, please contact me!
> >
> >I thought this piece was generally very unfavorable to Sudbury. In
> >corresponding offline with another member of this list earlier, the
> >impression I got was that the piece emphasized the elements of Sudbury that
> >people in traditional schools would find the most "freakish" - the lack of
> >formal structure, the constant reiteration of themes like "relaxation"
> >(while not touching on themes like "self-direction" or "individual
> >responsibility"). The School Meeting and the Judicial Committee were
> >touched on only trivially, and the actual achievements (as I understand
> >them) of Sudbury students were all but overlooked. The place was made to
> >look like a permissive hippie commune school. I realize that's probably
> >not
> >a real black mark to some of you - work with me, here.
> >
> >The sight of kids smoking outside the school couldn't help but shock most
> >"traditional" parents.
> >
> >Morley Safer interviewed a panel of parents; are any of those parents on
> >this list? I'd be interested in hearing what parts of that panel interview
> >got left on the cutting room floor (as it were). I felt the parents came
> >across especially badly (speaking of overall effect, not personally) in the
> >interview.
> >
> >Upsides: I thought Dan Greenberg came across head, shoulders and ankles
> >better than the woman from the Massachusetts Dept. of Education, who seemed
> >like a fussbudgety apparatchik who left gaping holes just begging to be
> >called out.
> >
> >And the 11-year-old girl (don't recall the name) was also very impressive.
> >She came across like a very poised high school senior (Dad was a speech
> >teacher, I was in broadcast - I value and closely criticize these things).
> >
> >This is sort of a grab bag of first impressions of the piece. I'm
> >interested in what the rest of you think.
> >
> >Mitch Berg
> >Saint Paul
> >
> >
> >===========
> >
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> >
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--Scott David Gray
reply to:
Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by
-- Rudyard Kipling


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