Re: re[2]: DSM: democratic classroom

From: Warren McMillan (warren@bmts.com)
Date: Thu Nov 01 2001 - 19:51:44 EST


Hi Dawn. This is what I was trying to say in my wordy way. Thanks for
saying it better.

Warren

----- Original Message -----
From: Dawn F. Harkness <dawn@harkness.net>
To: <discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org>
Sent: Thursday, November 01, 2001 6:35 PM
Subject: Re: re[2]: DSM: democratic classroom

> Now Jeff, I don't know where you get your definition of democracy, but it
> doesn't ring true to me. The following definition comes from
> Dictionary.com:
>
> 1.Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected
> representatives.
> 2.A political or social unit that has such a government.
> 3.The common people, considered as the primary source of political
> power.
> 4.Majority rule.
> 5.The principles of social equality and respect for the individual
> within a community.
>
> Nothing about your classroom experiment sounds like democracy to me. With
> your ultimate veto power it sounds like Soviet style democracy, yeah sure
> everyone has the right to vote, but you can only vote for big brother and
> you can only vote for what big brother wants you vote for. To me, it is
> irrelevant how much your students professed to enjoy or learn from your
> exercise in manipulation, that's still exactly what it was, more of the
same
> old classroom manipulation of students by teachers. I believe these
kinds
> of experiments by authority figures/teachers are ultimately harmful to
> students since it blurs the lines between freedom and incarceration. If
> traditional school teachers want to teach their students about democracy,
I
> think they should get up every day and point out all the ways kids are
> enslaved by the traditional school system. And then they should apologize
> for profiting from it.
>
> Dawn Harkness
> SVS parent
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Jesse Fisher <freedomworks@burgoyne.com>
> To: Sudbury discussion list <discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org>
> Sent: Thursday, November 01, 2001 12:12 AM
> Subject: re[2]: DSM: democratic classroom
>
>
> > Actually, I had a successful go of it -- giving students a healthy dose
of
> self-government on a class basis, not on an individual basis.
> > Democracy = self-government, and a class can be self-governing, even if
> the individuals unfortunately can't be.
> >
> > Taught my 8th grade US Government classes basic Parliamentary Procedure
> using a game I created. Also explained how PP protects the rights of each
> individual to be heard. Then acting as constitutional conventions each
> class came up with a fairly good constitution for a student association
> whose aim was to create a free democratic school.
> >
> > I did chart out their real position in a very top-down authoritarian
> heirarchy to help them see the value in a democratic school [sure felt
like
> a traitor in the enemy camp! Expected the PC Thought Police to barge in
> anytime and yell, "Treason! Treason!" and haul me away]. I had
originally
> hoped to have them bang out a constitution for a Sudbury-style school, but
> they weren't up to that. I figured if they ever were to be self-governing
> in life in groups, they would need to understand how self-governing
> organizations function. Creating a constitution for the student
> associations did the job.
> >
> > If I remember correctly, it took about a month and a half for them to
> finish their association constitutions. I would instruct them for roughly
> the first third of class about constitutions, preambles, etc., then we
would
> call the convention to order and get down to business. I personally found
> it very rewarding. The kids were very much into it. In fact, my
> neighboring teacher reported that the kids pleaded for using parliamentary
> procedure on occasions in her class. She had no problem, since it helped
> maintain order and protected individual rights.
> >
> > I did reserve ultimate veto power, but rarely had to use it. After
> several days, I braved letting the elected association President be chair
of
> the convention. They usually did a remarkable job.
> >
> > Guess my point is this: Although a public-school teacher might be
unwise
> to grant children intellectual freedom, en masse -- giving them a real
> opportunity to practice self-government at least prepares them for
political
> freedom much more than they otherwise would be.
> >
> >
> > Jesse Fisher
> > Freedom Preservation Foundation
> >
> >
> > > Good points from all. I also worry that the kids will not buy into
it.
> And
> > > there is no real democracy because they are stuck in that room for
> those 50
> > > minutes. But I do think that a teacher can help foster a positive
> change
> > > in
> > > a student, even in a traditonal classroom. It may be severely
limited
> but
> > > encouraging free form thought (somethig that I think art is a good
> tool
> > > for)
> > > can help change attitude and the way things are percieved. This is
> like
> > > convincing those that Joe mentions that don't want to be convinced.
> >
> > > William
> >
> >
> > > On Wed, 31 Oct 2001 20:30:46 -0500,
discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org
> wrote:
> >
> > > > I lost track of this thread so can't recall who originally
raised
> the
> > > issue
> > > > of democratic classrooms in traditional schools but, whoever it
> was,
> > > allow
> > > > me tell you about my experience with this concept. First of
all,
> I
> > > don't
> > > > expect to change your mind. Nothing would have changed mine 25
> years ago
> > > > when I first attempted this.
> > > >
> > > > In your attempt, you may be able to withstand the pressure
applied
> by
> > > your
> > > > administration and fellow teachers. Even parent complaints may
> roll off
> > > but
> > > > it is the determined and insistent opposition by your students
> that you
> > > need
> > > > to be ready for. It was this last factor that finally doomed my
> every
> > > > attempt at democratizing the classroom. Children schooled for
any
> > > length
> > > of
> > > > time in a traditional setting have bought the farm, so to speak.
> They
> > > have
> > > > learned how to exist in an authoritarian environment and have
> settled
> > > into
> > > > their passive roles. Democratizing the classroom entails asking
> them to
> > > > become active participants with responsibility for their own
> educations.
> > > > Most don't want this. It's harder and they have to think so
they
> set
> > > about
> > > > sabotaging your plans by turning it into a joke or accusing you
of
> not
> > > doing
> > > > your job.
> > > >
> > > > There are, to be fair, a few who buy into the whole thing but
> these are
> > > the
> > > > ones you should worry about most. These keen ones learn fast
and
> are
> > > soon
> > > > pushing the democratic process into all areas of your classroom.
> The
> > > > problem is they just don't know when to quit. They don't
respect
> that
> > > > artificial wall you have built around your classroom and simply
> can't
> > > > understand why this democracy stuff can't work in the rest of
the
> school
> > > as
> > > > well. They fan out like zealots, spreading the word of
democratic
> > > freedom,
> > > > all the way, eventually, into the seat of power in the
principal's
> > > office.
> > > > There, or somewhere along their path to freedom, they run into
the
> > > reality
> > > > that their school is not democratic and, furthermore, will not
> stand for
> > > it.
> > > > Play your democracy game in your classroom if you wish but don't
> deign
> > > to
> > > > think you can influence the real order of the school. The door
to
> > > freedom
> > > is
> > > > slammed shut in their faces and they are devastated. What's
more,
> you
> > > are
> > > > to blame. You set them up with all your talk of democracy in
> education.
> > > > These are the ones who are now your most ardent opponents. They
> have
> > > come
> > > > to see democracy as a sham, an idea that doesn't work in the
real
> world.
> > > >
> > > > Here is my advice to you, for what it's worth. You can run a
> democratic
> > > > classroom if you are prepared to define democracy in very
limited
> and
> > > > superficial terms so it doesn't leak out the classroom door,
but,
> if you
> > > try
> > > > to establish a genuine democracy in action, be prepared for the
> backlash
> > > and
> > > > accept that the risk may be that you end up, instead, with a
bunch
> of
> > > > disillusioned kids.
> > > >
> > > > In my opinion, attempting democracy in a traditional school
> classroom is
> > > > trying to convince kids that they can be free as long as they
stay
> > > within
> > > > the walls of the jail. In order to know freedom, you must be
free.
> It's
> > > as
> > > > simple as that. If you must teach in a traditional school,
don't
> play
> > > games
> > > > with your students. If you want to help them, tell them the
truth
> about
> > > > their autocratic education system and help them to see how they
> are
> > > > conditioned by it.
> > > >
> > > > Warren
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > ----- Original Message -----
> > > > From: Joe Jackson <shoeless@jazztbone.com>
> > > > To: <discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org>
> > > > Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2001 10:46 AM
> > > > Subject: DSM: criticising convincing
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > > 'Sup, Malc.
> > > > >
> > > > > I didn't mean to imply that convincing people other than
critics
> is
> > > not
> > > > > a waste of time as well, my mensch, just that I am familiar
with
> the
> > > > > criticisms of Sudbury schooling, and do not feel that
convincing
> > > critics
> > > > > is anything other than good sport.
> > > > >
> > > > > But in terms of the business of promoting the schools it's the
> whole
> > > > > idea that burning people-energy and money convincing people
that
> > > Sudbury
> > > > > schools are good in order to help the revolution along is a
> waste of
> > > > > time in comparison to using those same resources to get the
word
> out
> > > to
> > > > > people who need no convincing.
> > > > >
> > > > > That's why we set up a Sudbury school rather than trying to
> reform an
> > > > > existing one: so we wouldn't have to waste our time convincing
> people
> > > > > who aren't even going to take Sudbury schooling seriously
until
> they
> > > see
> > > > > lots of people going to them. And that isn't going to happen
> until,
> > > > > say, forty million people in the United States know they exist
> and,
> > > say,
> > > > > the one out of every 500 of them who need no convincing go to
> one.
> > > > >
> > > > > And I would say that while it was less the end of a long hard
> day than
> > > > > the beginning of a hard days' night, I see the goals and
methods
> of
> > > > > setting up a democratic self-initiated classroom in a
> conventional
> > > > > school as being completely different than the goals and
methods
> of
> > > > > setting up a Sudbury school. The latter is where my
experience
> and
> > > > > interest lies, but I know that William Van Horn is a right guy
> and I
> > > > > wish him luck in succeeding in whatever he attempts.
> > > > >
> > > > > Peace out bro',
> > > > >
> > > > > Joe
> > > > >
> > > > > -----Original Message-----
> > > > > From: owner-discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org
> > > > > [mailto:owner-discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org] On Behalf Of
> Malc Dow
> > > > > Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2001 9:07 AM
> > > > > To: discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org
> > > > > Subject: RE: DSM: convincing critics
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > > -----Original Message-----
> > > > > From: Joe Jackson
> > > > >
> > > > > >There are much, much too many people out there that are
hungry
> for
> > > > > precisely what our school has to offer for me to waste much
time
> > > trying
> > > > > to convince critics.
> > > > >
> > > > > It is never a waste of time trying to convince critics. Who
else
> is
> > > > > there to convince?
> > > > >
> > > > > >>If, on the other hand, you are attempting to set up a
> "Sudbury-like"
> > > > > atmosphere in a conventional classroom, I cannot really advise
> you,
> > > and
> > > > > good luck.
> > > > >
> > > > > Sounds like the end of a long hard day Joe!
> > > > > But luckily there is advice at hand.
> > > > > Robert van Nood has a set of journals about setting up and
> maintaining
> > > a
> > > > > democratic classroom within an establishment school. You can
get
> the
> > > > > e-text; "Welcome to Springfield - Population 23 People" in
> various
> > > > > formats, for free, from here:
> http://www.first-ask.de/abc/van-nood/
> > > > >
> > > > > (excerpt)
> > > > > " Another growing trend that is quite disturbing, is the use
of
> > > children
> > > > > as scapegoats. No longer do they "have problems", they are
> becoming
> > > "THE
> > > > > problem". Any society that turns its back on its own children
in
> such
> > > a
> > > > > way shows it's deep seeded sickness. While we continue to push
> our
> > > > > children to grow up faster and faster, we blame them for more
of
> the
> > > > > ills of the society. While we continue to relinquish our
control
> of
> > > our
> > > > > communities and our country to the will of the moneyed
> interests, we
> > > do
> > > > > little to protect our youth from the consequences of greed and
> fear. "
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > > Malc Dow
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > > ===========
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> >
> > > William M. Van Horn
> > > wmvh1@excite.com
> > > http://www.angelfire.com/art/inmystudio
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > > _______________________________________________________
> > > Send a cool gift with your E-Card
> > > http://www.bluemountain.com/giftcenter/
> >
> >
> >
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