Re: DSM: The Sudbury model -- appropriate for all children, yes or no?

From: Scott David Gray (
Date: Wed May 30 2001 - 18:00:44 EDT

I don't buy your underlying premise -- that responsibility
for oneself is a skill that has to be learned, and that some
people may willingly reject.

I would suggest that personal responsibility is a fact of
life. In the end, each person is responsible for
him/herself. This is a truth of life, even in times and
places where those around one pretend that someone else
(e.g. the state or others) are responsible for individuals.
No matter how hard any community has tried to control the
lives of its members, such a community can never succeed in
protecting and developing a person who doesn't actively try
to be protect and/or develop him/herself... Ultimately, a
person's ability to be effective in life is in her/his own

I do not deny that there are things a community can do to
make life easier or harder for individuals. But, if a
person truly rejects the notion of personal responsibility,
s/he will never be able to survive in any social
environment. If a person actually refuses to take ownership
of her/his own actions, that person is destined to a life
that is either miserable, centered around using and abusing
others, or both. And I have no interest in letting people
pretend that they can choose not to be responsible for

Fortunately, except for extraordinarily rare cases of
blatant cerebral pathology, homo sapiens are born with the
same capacity as any other living creature to recognize that
their lives are not entirely out of their own control.
Despite the best efforts of many nation states, and the best
efforts of traditional schools, even people who are told
over and over again that "the state will care for you"
almost always end up exerting at least some care for

So what about students in a Sudbury School who are thrown
out because they failed to take sufficient responsibility
for themselves in that context? The story rarely ends there
-- the act of being thrown out is usually one of many steps
that ultimately moves the person to remember to act more in
line with the reality that her/his own life is in her/his
hands (as s/he once did, before the schools got to him/her).
But the fact is, that is not something that a traditional
school can help a person to see -- traditional schools
specialize in the opposite lesson; that things work all on
their own with or without you, and you'll do what your told
without having to use any initiative.

I think, ultimately, this is one reason why I consider the
notion of a "hybrid" school (somewhere between a Sudbury
model and a Traditional model) to be ludicrous. The lessons
are diametrically opposed: One loudly claims "you are in
charge of your life" and the other loudly claims "we are in
charge of your life." Where is the room for compromise?

--Scott David Gray
reply to:
Mother Culture's deception here is that schools exist to
serve the needs of people.  In fact, they exist to serve the
needs of your economy.  The schools turn out graduates who
can't live without jobs but who have no job skills, and this
suits your economic needs perfectly.  What you're seeing at
work in your schools isn't a system defunct, it's a system
requirement, and they meet that requirement with close to
one hundred percent efficiency. 

-- Daniel Quinn ============================================================

On Wed, 30 May 2001, William van Horn wrote:

> Well, it is akin to a skill. Maybe an attitude or a personality trait, > something originally "taught" at home. Looking at adults, most of us who > have gone through traditional schools, some actively seek the responsibility > because of the freedom, while many seek for others to make the important > decision for them. > > My point though, is that we also need something between SVS and public > schools. Those that you would send back to public schools would still > benefit from a greater level of freedom in decision making. I contend that > responsible use of freedom can be taught through example and encouragement > (aren't these Sudbury methods?) and lots of discussion with the student. > Discussion in the true sense of the word, listening closely as well as > talking. Some students need more help learning, yet public schools offer > very very little of this.


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