Re: DSM:

From: william van horn (wmvh1@excite.com)
Date: Fri Oct 26 2001 - 10:15:11 EDT


Joe:

First place, "culture" in this sense does not mean cool jazz or white wine
with fish. It is the assumptions and attitudes of a group of people. The
US has many cultures but it also has an overall culture, agreed to by most
of the people living within it. Culture as Greenberg speaks of it in "A New
Look at Schools." And those people who have created broad cultural changes
are not always famous. You might say that those scientists currently working
on human cloning (whether you like it or not) will be significant
contributors to our culture. Bill Gates, the founder of Amazon.com, Ralph
Nader, Alice Walker, Paul Simon and Lady Smith Mambazo, Jane Goodall, Art
Fry, etc. You get the idea. The people in the media are usually more
broadly known, but this does not intrinsically make them any less or more
significant. These and others are those people who have done or created
something new and created ripples throughout our world. Usually they have
built on others that went before them, but these people had the luck or
curse of getting it into the public's eye. Ex: Paul Simon collaborated with
Lady Smith on his Graceland album which opened the door for other
cross-cultural collaborations and incorporations in popular music. Fry used
research done by someone else and designed Post It notes for 3M and all of
us forgetful citizens. Many of the people who have made contributions did
not start out wanting out be rich and famous. They were just trying to be
the best they could be in their fields.

Saying that there is no consensus on what is art or what is a cultural
contribution is a lazy way out, fearful of making distinctions of
importance. It’s the ultimate in sloppy democracy. I'm okay, you're okay,
and we are all equal and good. I'm sorry, but Walker is a better writer than
you or me. And even though all of the publisher's, editors, printers, and
clerks at the bookstores that she relies on are important in their own
right, her thoughts and words are still more distinctive.

"Just for fun, someone name me five people in the world today who are
changing our culture in the same breadth and degree of unequivocality
that Julius Ceasar, Johann Sebastian Bach and Albert Einstein did in
their respective cultures."

Steve Jobs
Wozniak
Bill Gates
Osama bin Laden, if indeed he is responsible for the attacks
Paul McCartney (and the rest of the Beatles)
The person who developed the Internet (can't think of his name)

These people, for good or bad, have changed the basics of our culture.

As for why the question is asked about Sudbury's contribution……
You may feel that you have found the perfect school for yourself or your
children, and to hell with everyone else who doesn't have your insight. But
I am looking how to change the system to give the opportunities that Sudbury
allows to everyone other student. I see this as a necessary step for the
growth of our world culture and more personally, my own country (USA).
Though Summerhill and Sudbury are great models, I am sure you know the
objections to a democratic school. How can we convince reluctant parents and
administrators that student choice works? They want some kind of proof of
personal success for the students (as Greenberg demonstrated in his book
"Legacy of Trust"). But it would also help to convince them to show those
that make those significant contributions. Most people are going to need
some convincing in terms they can understand. And I think that we need a
broader acceptance of student choice education than the isolated spots of
Sudbury schools.

The point is that those that I named have shown an exemplary ability to
discover or create something that others couldn't or didn't. And, yes, some
of this is opportunistic. And I think that most of these people developed
not BECAUSE of the public schools, but DESPITE of them. So, if Sudbury
allows students to develop to their full potential.....

On Tue, 23 Oct 2001 12:57:24 -0700, discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org wrote:

> Great rant, as usual, Joe.
>
> Todd Robinson
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Joe Jackson" <shoeless@jazztbone.com>
> To: <discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org>
> Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2001 7:32 AM
> Subject: RE: DSM:
>
>
> > Hello William, I hope you had a good summer!
> >
> > I would hope we would all agree on the silliness of the underlying
point
> > behind your questioner's "notion", which would seem to be that
> > democratic schools don't produce famous people. My reactions are,
> > respectively, What?, Huh? and Who Cares?
> >
> > First point: In today's world, there exist no standard of what "someone
> > who has helped create a broad cultural change in understanding or the
> > way we see things in art, writing, science, politics, etc." even means,
> > or who would fit it. The concept is nonsense.
> >
> > Almost 20 years ago, I was lucky enough to attend a then very
> > Sudbury-ish Arts Magnet High School with Roy Hargrove, one of the
> > greatest and well-known jazz musicians of our time. Fifty years ago he
> > would have probably fallen under most people's definitions of someone
> > who has "created a broad change" regarding art in America. But in
> > today's world nobody will ever agree on what "art" is; most people
today
> > don't even listen to jazz or know who Roy Hargrove is.
> >
> > There were 250 jazz artists in 1950 who were great enough to shape the
> > world's view of art. Today there are 2500, but the world doesn't
really
> > listen to jazz. So is the questioner saying that it's more important
> > for schools to crank out Michael Jacksons (who has had *way* more
effect
> > in changing the world's perception of music than anyone else in the
> > world over the last 20 years) than it is for them to crank out
> > Hargroves?
> >
> > And did anyone catch themselves just now bridling at the idea that
> > Michael Jackson created a "broad cultural change in understanding or
the
> > way we see things in art"? You see the problem.
> >
> > Fame is opportunity. The relationship of fame to greatness is usually
a
> > matter of opinion, and when it is not are occurrences that are so
> > statistically rare as to preclude a relationship with the type or form
> > of schooling.
> >
> > Just for fun, someone name me five people in the world today who are
> > changing our culture in the same breadth and degree of unequivocality
> > that Julius Ceasar, Johann Sebastian Bach and Albert Einstein did in
> > their respective cultures.
> >
> > Second point: There's a math problem here. Over the past 50 years
> > Sudbury schools have produced maybe 6-8 hundred students. Over the
past
> > fifty years all the other kinds of schools in the world have produced
> > billions of students. So, at this rate, if the all these other schools
> > in the world have (arguably) produced one or two thousand of these
> > people that can change our culture today (if there are that many we can
> > all agree on), then
> >
> > 2,000/2,000,000,000 = x/800 per fifty years
> > .000001 = x/800 per fifty years
> > x = .0008 per fifty years
> >
> > So Sudbury schools only need to produce one U.N Delegate or Pulitzer
> > Prize winner every 600 centuries to easily surpass all other schools in
> > this all-important category? What a cakewalk!
> >
> > Third point: While the criteria of "someone who has helped create a
> > broad cultural change in understanding or the way we see things in art,
> > writing, science, politics, etc." is nonexistent due to its
> > equivocality, what is the relevance?
> >
> > Does the world need Nobel Prize winners more than it needs
> > veterinarians? Is someone who is a great writer a better and more
> > present parent than a reporter for the local paper? Because it's the
> > billions of anonymous people who live their lives with joy & integrity
> > that make real contributions to our culture.
> >
> > Back to the jazz music analogy. In order to follow the track of a jazz
> > musician who is at all "known", one essentially has to dedicate their
> > entire lives to becoming known. Is it possible to be a good parent and
> > be involved with social issues and volunteer for charities when you're
> > out on the road ten months a year? No, I tried it, it's not possible.
> >
> > The relationship of fame to how good a person is is nonexistent.
> >
> > And much thanks should go to public schools for the fact that the
impact
> > art has on our culture today is negligible compared to sports. The
> > impact of writing on our culture is far less than that of television
and
> > movies. So your questioner's categories seem a little out of date with
> > regard to the real-life culture of today, unless "culture" to them
means
> > a bunch of college professors and art & music critics sitting around in
> > a coffee shop in Geneva sipping cappuccinos while discussing Thomas
> > Pynchon's latest book.
> >
> > Sorry. To me the point, which amounts to "has Sudbury/Summerhill
> > cranked out anyone famous?", is so juvenile I am incapable of even
> > comprehending whatever legitimacy the questioner intends.
> >
> > I would tell the questioner that while democratic schooling doesn't
> > necessarily help kids to become famous, that every single graduate of
> > Sudbury goes on to make *untold* contributions to our civilization, and
> > that getting famous is probably not among the top ten reasons parents
> > send their children to a Sudbury school.
> >
> > Rant over.
> >
> > -Joe
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: owner-discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org
> > [mailto:owner-discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org] On Behalf Of william
van
> > horn
> > Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2001 6:41 AM
> > To: discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org
> > Subject: Re: DSM:
> >
> >
> > I was in a discussion on the state of the school system here in the US
> > and someone brought up the notion that no one that has made a
> > significant contribution to our culture has ever come through
democratic
> > schools such as Summerhill or Sudbury. By significant contribution he
> > meant someone who has helped create a broad cultural change in
> > understanding or the way we see things in art, writing, science,
> > politics, etc.
> >
> > Does anyone know of a SUdbury alumnus who has gone on to help make such
> > a change?
> >
> > William M. Van Horn
> > http://www.angelfire.com/art/inmystudio
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________________
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> >
> >
> >
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William M. Van Horn
wmvh1@excite.com
http://www.angelfire.com/art/inmystudio

_______________________________________________________
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