Re: DSM: RE: RE: the digest and public school reform

From: David Rovner (
Date: Tue May 15 2001 - 02:29:23 EDT

Well Joe, I must say you are a very nice guy, but before treating
public schools with silk gloves, I think you should read or reread
Alice Miller's "FOR YOUR OWN GOOD -- Hidden Cruelty
in Child Rearing and the The Roots of Violence."

David Rovner

---------- Original Message ----------

>X-mailer: Microsoft Outlook IMO, Build 9.0.2416 (9.0.2910.0)
>From: "Joe Jackson" <>
>To: <>
>Date: Tue, 15 May 2001 00:12:45 -0400
>Subject: DSM: RE: RE: the digest and public school reform

>Hi Laura!

>> What you are saying is
>> it is a waste of time to try to change public schools incrementally. You
>> feel if someone really wants to liberate learners they should "go all the
>> way." Is this correct?

>More specifically, I think if someone is interested in a school that is
>owned by students both in the literal and figurative sense, a school in
>which the students direct their learning processes free from the prospect of
>coercion, it makes little sense to me for that person to direct their
>energies towards a conventional school.

>The two important points I want to make, 1) public school employees are
>generally noble, talented and hardworking souls, and 2) it is certainly
>possible to create small and temporary islands of limited democracy in some
>public school environments, should not go understated.

>However, I've not seen even a person who has successfully maintained a
>limited democracy in a conventional setting who would compare it to ultimate
>democratic ownership of the pedagogical and administrative processes, as
>well as the school corporations and the building and land it is built in and

>And yes, I don't think public schools do incremental change in a unified
>direction over time (e.g. towards or away from coercion). Much too many
>pressures pushing in pulling in too many directions.

>> I can appreciate what you are saying about it seeming like a waste of time
>> to tinker with something else when compared to actively
>> supporting a Sudbury
>> school. Or at least, I imagine what it might be like - a big difference!

>Unfortunately, all of the people I have come in contact with who have tried
>to institute changes of the scope that we are discussing in conventional
>environs insist that it is futile.

>> What about a school that is something between what a Sudbury is and what a
>> public school is? What is your view on that?

>I think there is a lot of room for alternatives of every conceivable
>flavor - it all depends on what parents want for their kids and what kind of
>expectations they have for their kids' schooling...

>> Is that still not worth the effort?

>For those people, yes; I can't begrudge folks their educational choices and
>expect them to tolerate mine :)

>> Many newcomers to SVS seem to have a very difficult time
>> with total
>> freedom concept. (Esp. parents) Even ones who seem to embrace this
>> philosophy in all other areas of their lives, they still are so very
>> hesitant because there is that ever present worry - "what if I am wrong??"
>> What are your thoughts on this?

>Yes! - I absolutely agree. I had these kinds of doubts when we were first
>becoming interested in the model. I see two major things influencing this:

>1) Society has been moving quickly towards using statistics, measurement,
>coercion and the evaluation of pedegogy by "scientific" means over the last
>decade, and in this culture a non-coercive school seems counter-intuitive.
>Or rather counter-culture. And:

>2) The only point of reference most people have to decide whether they think
>the school will be the right place for their children are
>conventionally-educated children. In other words, most people havn't the
>opportunity to meet as many SVS grads as I did, and therefore cannot develop
>the vision of the continuity of their childrens' lives from present to
>adulthood in the context of what the Sudbury Model does for them.

>Words can't describe how fortunate I feel to have seen the vastly different
>kind of person these empowered individuals are in comparison to the
>conventionally-schooled folks who were unable to resist and emerge from
>public school as inquisitive, whole people. I am fortunate that, for the
>most part, I was able to handle being a bad guy in public schools enough
>that I could resist the indoctrination, I am relieved that my kids' energies
>can be used otherwise.

>I think for many parents, the books and writings of SVS can give them a
>sense of the vast context in which the model has existed for the past three
>and a half decades, and often can find reassurance there. Many more take a
>leap of faith and find the reassurance after their kids start reaping the
>rewards ofter a couple of years. And then many others are, frankly, unable
>to reconcile what the world is telling them with the track record of Sudbury
>Valley School and its wannabes. Many of those people think that a general
>business degree from a college is somehow more valuable than a certificate
>from a cooking school (inside joke to O'Neill Factor viewers).

>So, don't get me wrong :) I only think pub schools are a waste of time for
>people that are really interested in really letting go of children. I
>cannot speak for those who for some reason need to keep conditional strings
>attached, and I mean no malice by that.




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