Re: re[2]: DSM: democratic classroom

From: Scott David Gray (sgray@aramis.sudval.org)
Date: Tue Nov 06 2001 - 10:37:09 EST


On Tue, 6 Nov 2001, Alan Klein wrote:

> Scott,
>
> I think that that's exactly what Jesse is positing, and I agree. I also hear
> you agreeing, though you reserve different terms in making your definitions.
>
> The veto power is somewhere; we all live within boundaries. All power does
> not stem from the constituency in a democratic school. Next time you think
> so, try watching a SM raise tuition to $50,000. Try watching a SM block up
> all doors and windows and disable the fire alarms. Then try watching the
> school fail.
>
> Democracy itself has many flavors: participatory, representative, etc. No
> one has the sole right to call itself "democracy".

But some environments most emphatically can _not_ in good
faith claim to be democratic. Including, I have been
arguing, any traditional classroom -- however well meaning
the teacher is.

This is a frequent point of disagreement between myself and
an old friend of mine -- he maintains that _every_ teacher
is innately sadistic, while I maintain that by far the bulk
of them mean well and simply don't recognize the harm that
they are doing. Democratic is _not_ synonymous with
"meaning well." You will find many party officials from old
one-party Communist countries who "meant well."

> ~Alan Klein
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Scott David Gray" <sgray@aramis.sudval.org>
>
> > On Mon, 5 Nov 2001, Jesse Fisher wrote:
> >
> > > If I might be so bold, I would suggest that democratic
> > > education may not be an all or nothing condition, but
> > > more a continuum -- from zero democratic features on one
> > > end to a full array of [then-understood] democratic
> >
> > How is this suggestion, of a continuum, substantially
> > different than the position posited by Candy or Alan that an
> > institution or classroom may be "somewhat" democratic?
> > I sense that you are trying to posit a new defense or
> > way to look at the "somewhat democratic" claim with your
> > metaphor -- but I am unable to see what the new defense is.
> > If so, could you be more explicit?
> >
> > I am thinking about this term of yours -- "democratic
> > features," but I honestly don't know what you mean. Do you
> > mean "liberty, equality before the law, and political
> > democracy?"
> > If so, then perhaps this suggests a source of the
> > debate on this list. I do not doubt that some of the
> > schools or classrooms which some have suggested are
> > "somewhat democratic" do _in_fact_ offer "somewhat more
> > liberty" to their students than other classrooms.
> >
> > However, I (for one) have been using the word
> > "democracy" to mean "democratic" (i.e. power stems from the
> > constituency) the word "liberty" to mean "liberty" (i.e. a
> > person's time is her/his own) and the word "equality" to
> > mean "equality" (i.e. there is not more than one class of
> > people). I maintain that it is not possible to be "sort of
> > equal" or "sort of democratic."
> > The places that others have referred to as "somewhat
> > democratic" seem to me to offer "greater liberty" than can
> > be found in other classrooms, but to be neither democratic
> > nor equal. It is the misuse of the terms "democracy" and
> > "equality" that trouble me most, and strike me as lying to
> > students within the progressive schools movement.
> >
> > > features on the other end. Or, even, a dual-axis
> > > continuum with the level of intellectual freedom along,
> > > say, the X axis, and political freedom along the Y.
> > > Perhaps if a school ranks positively on both the
> > > intellectual and political freedom axes, they might be
> > > justly labeled "democratic" or "fully-democratic" or
> > > some similar identifier.
> >
> > What is the distinction between "intellectual" freedom and
> > "political" freedom? Can one be "politically" free, without
> > the capacity to weigh or argue any intellectual idea free of
> > an academic curriculum? Can one be intellectually free,
> > when one's environment is denied the "political" freedom of
> > association (or, more to the point, the freedom to
> > dis-associate oneself, or walk away from a teacher or
> > classroom)?
> >
> > These two measures seem only to exist on a purely
> > theoretical level. That is, every environment which offers
> > intellectual freedom also offers political freedom. And
> > every environment which offers political freedom also offers
> > intellectual freedom.
> >
> > > Jesse
> > >
> > > PS. Perhaps some creative soul might come up with a quick set of
> criteria that would plot a person's educational standing, much like the
> Libertarians have done with their "World's Smallest Political Quiz."
> > >
> > > > ----- Original Message -----
> > > > From: "Joe Jackson" <shoeless@jazztbone.com>
> > > > >
> > > > > Candy,
> > > > >
> > > > Candy said:
> > > > > > The third issue is our need to rank order communities
> > > > > > from lesser to higher levels of democracy with democratic
> > > > > > classrooms ranking near the bottom and Sudbury Model Schools
> > > > > > at the top.
> > > > >
> > > > Joe responded:
> > > > > I do not believe that this is what has been occurring, and it is
> > > > > certainly not a distinction I make.
> > > > >
> > > > > In terms of the dynamics of the school environment, I try my best
> to
> > > > > distinguish between schools that are democratic, and schools that
> are
> > > > > somewhat democratic (read schools where students can be
> overrulled
> > > > > and/or can only make decisions about certain things) which to me
> means
> > > > > they are not democratic.
> > > > >
> > > > > Could you give some examples of folks rank-ordering schools by
> democracy
> > > > > so I can have a picture of what you are talking about?
> > >
> > >
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> > --
> >
> > --Scott David Gray
> > reply to: sgray@sudval.org
> > http://www.unseelie.org/
> > ============================================================
> > It is your concern when your neighbor's wall is on fire.
> >
> > -- Quintus Horatius Flaccus
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-- 
 
--Scott David Gray
reply to: sgray@sudval.org
http://www.unseelie.org/
============================================================
A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular. 

-- Adlai Stevenson ============================================================

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