RE: DSM: troubles at PacVillage

From: Joe Jackson (shoeless@jazztbone.com)
Date: Sat May 26 2001 - 17:33:40 EDT


> One could think of
> Homer Lane, A.S. Neil and be happy that they did not hold your beliefs
> about therapeutic schools.

While Neill was big on the integration of psychology within his school in
his time, that aspect has, to put it mildly, faded. IMO, the fact that
Neill performed therapy sessions on students was not one of the best things
about the school, which has a great many things in common with the Sudbury
school.

> Even Sudbury is in it's own way therapeutic.

I absolutely agree that the Sudbury environment has therapeutic qualities
and a therapeutic effect. That is, of course, entirely different from
whether the school employs therapeutic measures. IMO the model is the
antithesis of a school that tries to affect behavior by attempting to cure
the student of underlying psychological conditions.

> Forgive me if I am wrong, but I was under the impression that you are
> involved in a Sudbury school, and not just as a parent.

In addition to being a parent, I was a founder of Fairhaven School and
continue to serve the school in several capacities. It is difficult for the
outsider to understand that nobody is more or less of an authority on the
model based on whether they are staff, student or parent. Especially since
most of our parents are more than just parents.

When I speak, I speak solely for myself.

> I guess if I
> were a student and you were my teacher or staff person and you made your
> comparison between Sudbury Schools and *therapeutic* schools, I would
> probably think you were speaking from a lack of experience.

I don't think so; if you were a student at Fairhaven, I believe you would
know exactly what I'm talking about, as you would likely *share* my
experience of having been in both worlds! If on the other hand you *did*
think that, you would tell me so, and would quickly learn that I do not lack
said experience in the ensuing conversation. This is the common way such
exchanges go at the school. (Interestingly enough, comparisons like this
between Fairhaven and conventional schools is a favorite topic among the
students at our school. And hearing the experiences of our students has
done much to reinforce my opinions of externally discipline versus internal
discipline).

There are very many "Playmountains" and "Phyllises" in the world. My wife
and I have worked in scores of schools as teacher, director, clinician and
administrator. And each one of these places does terribly nice things for
students on occasion. And yet I am quite sure that the Sudbury school
offers students the best chance to learn to take responsibility for
themselves.

Parents have to make *decisions* about where the best place is for our
children to go; what they think will work best. That the Sudbury school is
the best place for their children to learn to be responsible for themselves
is _precisely_ the reason why a great many of our parents send their
children to our schools.

And the fact that they educate themselves and come up with conlusions that
offend the way others see the world does not make their conclusions "cheap"
and "bigoted". Throwing those terms in there just makes the speaker look
bad, does it not?

:)

-Joe

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org
> [mailto:owner-discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org]On Behalf Of Liz
> Reid&Errol Strelnikoff
> Sent: Saturday, May 26, 2001 3:13 PM
> To: discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org
> Subject: RE: DSM: troubles at PacVillage
>
>
> Hi Joe,
> Of course you are right. You are absolutely entitled to your beliefs
> and these are by nature subjective. As are my own beliefs and pretty
> well everything in the universe. I was personally distressed at your
> casual dismissal of therapeutic schools, which could mean anything or
> everything.
>
> My own experience of what could be termed a therapeutic school was as a
> child at Playmountain, a free school in Culver City founded fifty years
> ago. Phyllis Fleischmann, the founder, was a great teacher and in her
> case this was equivalent to therapy. Phyllis managed to teach/help
> both children and parents in a myriad of ways. But what she
> accomplished was a gift and was not something that could be replicated.
> Playmountain still exists today and is still a wonderful school, but the
> incredible inspiration that was Phyllis has gone. But this is just fine
> as the effects of her teaching are still carried on, through my parents
> to me, to my children. And many other parents and children besides.
>
> I do not think that Phyllis was a unique phenomena, there are other
> great teachers/therapists and there will be more. One could think of
> Homer Lane, A.S. Neil and be happy that they did not hold your beliefs
> about therapeutic schools. Even Sudbury is in it's own way therapeutic.
>
> Forgive me if I am wrong, but I was under the impression that you are
> involved in a Sudbury school, and not just as a parent. I guess if I
> were a student and you were my teacher or staff person and you made your
> comparison between Sudbury Schools and *therapeutic* schools, I would
> probably think you were speaking from a lack of experience. Which is
> fine. But I hope that my opinions of your experience or lack of it,
> would not prevent me from learning from you in those areas where you do
> have expertise.
>
> I suppose that this would be a great lesson in itself, how to hear
> people's bigotries and still be able to hear their wisdom.
>
> Liz
>
>
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