DSM: Re: troubled kids

From: Alan Klein (Alan@klein.net)
Date: Mon May 28 2001 - 22:43:35 EDT


From: "Allan Saugstad" <asaugstad@vsb.bc.ca>
> Some democratic schools I have heard about and seen seem to have a similar
> problem. They attract kids who aren't making it in regular school, due to
a whole
> host of things, but frequently because of aggressive or anti-social
behaviour. The
> parents send them to a sudbury school instead. This seems to have been the
case
> with schools I have heard about who eventually close because of a majority
of
> troubled kids who make the environment unpleasant for the others.
>
> Do any of you recognize this problem in your schools? Or not?

Yes. At The Highland School we used to call it the "Critical Mass" issue. In
any organization there needs to be a critical mass of people who are
generally "in line" with the organization's values/practices/ethos. This
critical mass of participants can "hold the space" for up to another
critical mass of people who act out in various ways which put stress on the
system. If the first critical mass gets too small or the second one gets too
large, then it is difficult to "hold the center" and the system may fall
apart.

> My feeling is that these troubled kids aren't just troubled because of bad
school
> experiences; they often come from separated, distanced families. When they
come to
> sudbury things don't radically improve, because their family still holds
the same
> resentments, anger, and apathy it always did. One person I spoke to about
this has
> said he spends almost as much time counselling families as he does kids.
>
> Does this ring true to you, or am I off-base here?

Somewhat, but the more important variables are the parents' relationships
with their kids and the parents' attitudes toward the values and practices
of the school.

~Alan Klein

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