Re: DSM: degrees of illusionary freedom

From: Alan Klein (
Date: Tue Nov 06 2001 - 14:20:41 EST


You ask, "Are we equating someone's taking offense with the speaker's

No. The issue is not about the speaker's intent, but rather the speaker's
impact. The speaker may be inherently respectful, but if listeners take it
as disrespect, that can be problematic for our success in spreading the word
about democratic schooling.

I realize there is a fine line here. There are people who would go to a SM
and "hear" disrespect in the way the students address the staff, even though
we would all "hear" normal democratic processes.

I agree with you that we are (and have been) engaged in the revolution vs.
evolution debate. Having been a proponent of "revolution" in the education
world (and still seeing it as probably the best way to go, if it were
possible) I have a lot of respect for it. Unfortunately, it appears that the
world will more likely accept the "evolutionary" approach, and so I suggest
we adopt it in our communication about our schools.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Bruce Smith" <>
> But that's my point: is hyperbole inherently disrespectful? Are we
> equating someone's taking offense with the speaker's disrespect? I, for
> one, don't wish to go down that path. Alan certainly doesn't intend
> disrespect by labelling my terminology "hyperbole"; at least, I assume
> that to be the case. It's important to observe the distinction between
> argument and attack, and I was merely lamenting the readiness I've seen to
> blur that fine line.
> <<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.>>
> I acknowledge your point, yet I maintain that so long as we are truly
> respectful we need not fear people's reactions to our honest opinions,
> and this discussion forum should proceed just fine.
> <<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.>>
> Your point is well taken. Still, the "real limits" to which you refer are
> not irrelevant political restrictions imposed by ordinarily well-meaning
> adults. At Sudbury schools, students and staff encounter and deal with
> real-world limits such as finances all the time.
> <<the good work that is being done on behalf of democratizing
> non-democratic schools.>>
> This touches on the reform vs. revolution dialectic, and our varying
> opinions on whether it is possible and worthwhile to introduce bits of
> democracy in an otherwise totalitarian environment (oops -- guess my
> hyperbole filter needs some work :). If someone wants to take that up,
> more power to them; but I've said enough for now.


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