Re: DSM:

From: Christopher Weeks (
Date: Sat Oct 27 2001 - 08:28:06 EDT

william van horn wrote:

> Truth is, I often find myself bringing up Sudbury schools and their
> students' freedom in discussions about education. The major argument is that
> kids will goof off if not given SOME structure and that there are SOME
> things that everyone needs to learn, specifically, language / writing and
> math skills. I argue back with what little I know about Summerhill's and
> Sudbury's successes, including quoting Greenberg on how quickly a
> self-motivated student can learn something.

I run into the same kinds of discussions out there where I'm trying to find other
people with whom I can relate about education. But it seems so clear to me.

I like watching kids goof off. It's amazing how happy people can be when they're
just left alone. Our universe seems like a very structured place to me. With
structure enough that everyone has a context leading to constantly increased
understanding. Everyone that I've watched grow up has learned to use the
language. Everyone that I've watched discover (even with help) neat new features
of math were enchanted by them and I'm sure will not forget them. Since it's
obvious to me that that's enough it is hard to discuss it with the others who
don't get it.

If there really are some things that everyone needs to get, then why think that
they won't figure that out? I've worked very slightly with illiterate adults.
They all knew that they were missing something really important. They all wanted
to learn to read. They were just afraid and defensive. My wife is one of the
huge number of women who think they can't do math. Yet she can do all the math
she needs perfectly (she does our household accounting better than I do) and when
we discuss the math toys that I like to think about, she gets them just fine.

There just seems so much evidence that people can be trusted to learn whatever
they need that it seems almost definitional. It's wacky to even claim the right
to tell others what they need when you can't be in their heads. I've had zero
success in getting people resistant to the concept of free schooling to see the
light. But I have found a couple of people who think SVS-style education would be
ideal if only it could be made a reality. I agree with Joe that we (if I may be
so bold) need to concentrate on finding our hidden allies -- the people who don't
even know we exist. Popular opinion will come with time. After there's an SVS
school in every metro area, how much time could it take? (Though from reading it
seems that you early SVS people thought that 30 years ago, too.)

Christopher Weeks


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