Re: DSM: kibbutzim schools and SVM

From: Ardeshir Mehta, N.D. (
Date: Sun Jun 10 2001 - 23:47:02 EDT

Hello there:

I waited a while before replying to the message by David
Rovner, since I was not sure how much interest there is on
this list in kibbutz schools.

Since there have not been any postings other than by
David, I shall keep this brief. Perhaps most people on the
list aren't really interested in this subject.

Since the kibbutzim are all founded on principles of
participatory democracy, it would seem to be logical that
those who raise their children with the hope that they,
too, will opt for the kibbutz lifestyle when they become
adults would like to raise these children in a manner
which would make them as familiar as possible with the
principles of participatory democracy. Therefore I would
have thought that the philosophy of the Sudbury schools
would be both welcome and familiar to such people.

As for there being no individual rights on the kibbutz,
this notion is risible. You won't find a more individualistic
person than your average kibbutznik, anywhere in the
world. Canadians on the average, for example, and
Italians too, not to mention Indians (I have lived in Israel,
Italy, and India, besides of course Canada, where I live
now) are FAR more non-individualistic.

By the way, there are kibbutzim in Japan also, or so I am
told. Maybe Alexander would like to contact some of
them and find out how they are managing with their
schooling? In Israel, at least in the early years of the
kibbutzim, kibbutz children would not even sit for the
*bagrut* -- the official Israeli school leaving certificate
examination. Things are of course different now, but
the basic philosophy surely can't have changed THAT

Ardeshir <>


David Rovner wrote:

> I will try to analyze -- in a rather simplified
> manner -- the question Ardeshir Mehta, N.D.
> formulates (see below).
> Some background:
> Israel is a country that has been for 53 years now,
> in an apparently "state of emergency" and in a "state
> of being surrounded" -- since its founding in 1948.
> Israel's population is nearly 7 million inhabitants.
> As for today, there is one SVM school in Israel,
> one SIMILAR (to SVM) school -- a school valuing
> democracy, individual choice, and personal
> responsibility, and not few Sudbury Model or
> similar (to SVM) school -- undefined yet --
> start-up Groups.
> It can be said that Israel was founded as a socialist
> country -- by the inspiration of Soviet Union's
> ideology -- that's how kibbutzim (specially Kibbutz
> Ha-Artzi / Ha-Shomer Ha-Tza'ir movement) were
> established.
> It is well known that socialism and fascism are
> specific variants, which statism is the wider generic
> term.
> It is also obvious that statism is the dominant
> political trend of our day and both come from the
> same collectivist-statist principle.
> Collectivism puts emphasis on the group rather than
> on the individual -- kibbutz (in Hebrew) = collective.
> Simultaneously, Israel was founded as a homeland for
> the Jewish people.
> It is very difficult (if not impossible) for a country to
> be a democratic nation, and at the same time, an ethnic
> group's homeland who's religious common denominator
> has had a decisive weight during its history.
> In Judaism and in Israel -- homeland of the Jewish people
> -- NATION is interweaved with TRADITION (religion in
> this case).
> My personal experience is as follows:
> I'v been working on advancing democratic schools --
> specifically the SVM, freedom of learning, and individual
> rights in Israel .
> At the beginning, schools at kibbutzim were part of the
> kibbutz and were financed by it.
> Because kibbutzim wish to enjoy government financing
> of education (a worldwide phenomenon) that comes
> in one package with strings attached, kibbutzim schools
> today have already become one school for several
> kibbutzim and they also take external tuition-students.
> Kibbutzim population is now the second, third or fourth
> generation of the *halutzim* -- pioneers. Ideology has
> changed. No more socialism-collectivism. More
> individualism -- still not a rational one -- privatization,
> and differential wages.
> The problem is this:
> SVM = majority decision + individual rights
> + universal suffrage.
> KIBBUTZ = majority decision + the "rights" of the
> group (collective) + adult suffrage.
> I sure welcome change from a kibbutz school to a
> Sudbury-type school in Israel. Change from a
> kibbutz school to a Sudbury-type school is not
> altogether impossible, and I think it only depends
> on the will of the people involved -- and that
> includes governments.
> David Rovner


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