Re: DSM: degrees of illusionary freedom

From: Alan Klein (Alan@klein.net)
Date: Tue Nov 06 2001 - 10:31:41 EST


Bruce,

It interests me that you perceive folks' wish for a different way of
communicating as "wrath".

I presume that I am one whom you see as crying "can't we all just get
along?" That is not my wish. Your use of such hyperbole is an example of
what I do wish we avoided, however. My wish is that we communicate our
truths respectfully and that we acknowledge the fact (and I use the word
advisedly) that the way many of us communicate our truths is turning many
people off who could become allies at least, if not outright converts.

You imply in your past paragraph that adults do not maintain the ultimate
"veto power" in democratic schools. This is false. Ultimately, since the
monetary and governmental power resides with adults, so does the veto power.
To claim that SVS or any other democratic schools is doing "real" democracy,
while others are "simulations" ignores both the very real limits that
democratic schools have placed on them, as well as the good work that is
being done on behalf of democratizing non-democratic schools.

That said, I reiterate that I believe (and backed up this belief with my own
co-founding and staffing for eight years of a democratic school) in
democratic schooling. I also have no taste for traditional education. I also
bristle at those in authoritarian schools who talk the talk, but don't walk
the walk. I disagree, though, that democracy is an all or nothing thing.

~Alan Klein

----- Original Message -----
From: "Bruce Smith" <bsmith@coin.org>
> This post gives me that opportunity, first, to respond to a general trend
> on this list of late (and of old) which saddens me: the manner in which
> those who are critical and ask hard questions bring down the wrath of
those
> who cry "can't we all just get along?" I regret, for example, that my post
> is given the label "Sudbury-centric" simply because I choose to be blunt
in
> my criticism of traditional schooling and the lip service it pays to
> respecting children. Still, I will not refrain from being blunt on this
> list. This is not about attacking people or easing them in: this is a
> discussion on Sudbury Valley and its implications for how people might
best
> be educated. I think the discussion is best served by forceful arguments
> which are simultaneously respectful -- by which I mean those that refrain
> from ad hominem attacks (including, I believe, even the hardest-hitting
> arguments in this thread). I'll save the kid gloves for PR, and trust that
> anyone who subscribes to this list is mature enough to handle a
reasonable,
> yet passionate, argument. Further, I will hope that simply being
> opinionated isn't enough to earn me a reputation as intolerant or
> insensitive.
<snip>
> It's less that I view classroom democracy as an all-or-nothing
proposition,
> and more, as I said previously, that I bristle when people who work in
> authoritarian schools boast of how much they are respecting students. My
> position is one of questioning those who toss students a democratic bone
> from time to time, saying how respectful they're being, yet continue to
> participate in a system which oppresses children. Each individual must
make
> their own choice as to what system to support, and where they can make the
> greatest contribution. Also, believe it or not, I respect an individual's
> right to participate in traditional education. In fact, my highest
> educational value is choice, which explains both why I loathe traditional
> education (for denying children the right to make choices) and why I
accept
> that if people choose such a system, they should be able to have it.
>
> I just want to call a spade a spade. I think the argument's been made on
> this list before that being partially free is somewhat like being
partially
> pregnant or dead. All metaphysical hairsplitting aside, if democracy is
> tantamount to freedom, then any "partial" freedom is a qualified
simulation
> of the real thing.
<snip>
> It is true that in this country, even, democracy has been a long-evolving
> process. And of course freedom has limits! My point, again and finally, is
> that it comes down to who has a voice in determining those limits. In a
> traditional school, it's the adults who retain ultimate control ("veto
> power," I believe Jesse called it). In my strongly-held opinion, that
> hamstrings classroom democracy to the point that it can be, at best, a
> simulation. Whether or not such a simulation has value, let's not pretend
> it's anything more than that. (Besides, I can't help thinking, why give
> children a simulation if you can give them the real thing? --
> understandably, a big IF for various reasons)
>
> Bruce
>
>
>
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