RE: re[2]: DSM: democratic classroom

From: Joe Jackson (shoeless@jazztbone.com)
Date: Fri Nov 02 2001 - 12:04:12 EST


Alan,

WHY, YOU @%$& $%&...

> Scott David, Mimsy, Dawn, and Joe ...don't reach for your
> keyboard yet!

Oh, ok. Hmm hmmm hmm hmmmm hmm hmm. [Throws pencils into acoustic
ceiling tiles]. [Computes statistical value of individual vote in
national presidential election using abacus]. [Defrags hard drive].
[Cleans furnace filter].

> Thanks for listening. You may now fire away!

WHAT?! OK! So... uh, what was I going to post about?

Oh, yeah.

To boil it down, there's a couple of attitudes going on here. One is
that democracy and educational empowerment is good, and any time those
things exist in a classroom or anywhere is a good thing. Makes perfect
sense.

Another attitude is that trying to reform schools is like trying to turn
a junked out '47 Chevy into a stealth fighter jet, and a bunch of good
people using all their time, energy and money to install Pratt & Whitney
turbofans on it are just making it harder for people to admit it's a
junked out old car, and nothing they do is going to turn it into an
airplane. Makes perfect sense.

So it's "counter-productive" to think one way or the other? I would say
that's really an overstatement. I understand why it would fit your
goals & world view to try and discover common ground between all
democratic endeavors. It fits mine, too; in fact, what's with lumping
me in with all those Yankee firebrands, anyway?

Just kidding. Anyone who's spent time on this list knows I feel that
the basic reality of the political and bureaucratic nature of
conventional schools is that regardless of the little temporary pockets
of benevolent mini-democracy found within them, they will always
ultimately destroy what Sudbury schools seek to preserve in a child, and
that good people working hard to make these schools better only
strengthens them (which is really quite bad).

Having said that, people I admire work really hard and pour their souls
out in these schools, and I'm not into busting anyone's chops for giving
a shit. So I'm trying really hard not to scream at people on this list,
so BACK OFF, Alan. :)

-Joe

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org
> [mailto:owner-discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org] On Behalf Of
> Alan Klein
> Sent: Friday, November 02, 2001 10:16 AM
> To: discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org
> Subject: Re: re[2]: DSM: democratic classroom
>
>
> Hi all,
>
> This whole discussion is one we have recycled over and over.
> I am struck by a theme, or perhaps a tone, that seems to
> recur. Whenever people talk about their experiences of "sort
> of doing democracy" in public or private schools, we fall all
> over ourselves to come down on them. We go to great pains to
> tell them about the evil they are foisting upon their
> unsuspecting students. (Hyperbole, for sure, but I think I am
> accurately noting the gist of what goes on here.) I wonder
> why this is so.
>
> Back in teh early days of The Highland School (early 1980's),
> we used to have this discussion a lot. Is The Harmony School
> in Indiana sufficiently democratic to be considered a friend
> or are they the devil incarnate because they talk freedom but
> don't practice it to the level we believe necessary? Why did
> kids in Chris Mercogliano's class at The Free School in
> Albany (mentioned in a SKOLE article he wrote) have a math
> class they had to rebel against rather than being free to
> choose their own activities? Did this mean that The Albany
> Free School is a sham...a mere pretender to be cast away and
> scorned by us true believers?
>
> I have come to believe that this level of heat in this
> discussion is a problem for us as a community of people
> working for democracy in education. Simply put, I think it is
> counter-productive, in that we drive off more people than we
> attract. And in this business we need all teh friends we can get.
>
> Scott David, Mimsy, Dawn, and Joe ...don't reach for your
> keyboard yet! I am NOT suggesting that we water down our
> philosohies to attract more people. I am not suggesting that
> we tell half truths to prospective parents to lure thm into
> the fold. I am not suggesting that we bestow the "SVS" brand
> or the democratic school label on any school or classroom
> that decides to claim it. I am not suggestign that we stop
> vigorously discussing and debating our philosophical and
> pragmatic practices.
>
> What I AM suggesting is that we tone down the rhetoric that
> states or implies that people do harm to kids when they do
> their best to apply whatever they can of democratic
> methodology to their classrooms in non-democratic schools.
> Certainly we all may wish that they would abandon those
> efforts and join us in our democratic schools. The question
> then is, "What is the best way to get them to do so?" My
> experience tells me that taking an appreciative look at our
> own experiences and sharing them with others is the best way.
> Telling them that they are going to Educational Hell for not
> quitting their jobs in order to start a democratic school is not.
>
> Thanks for listening. You may now fire away!
> ~Alan Klein
>
>
>
>
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