Re: DSM: democratic classroom

From: Scott David Gray (
Date: Mon Nov 12 2001 - 11:29:23 EST

Hi Candy,

Agreed that communication with teachers involved in
traditional schooling can be reasonable. Could you point
out where I suggested that it wasn't or wouldn't be?

However, I _do_ wonder about the utility of communicating
with those individuals in order to "[further] the democratic
school movement." It seems that the best way "[further] the
democratic school movement" is to speak to people who would
never in their wildest dreams want to work in a traditional
school environment. I don't assume persons in that
environment have _any_ capacity at all to further the
movement to which I am committed. When I speak to them, it
is so that more of them may:

1: get an idea as to what school they could suggest as an
alternative to children who are _overtly_ suffering and/or
making the teachers' jobs of social control harder

2: be convinced to walk away from traditional schooling, and
do something less destructive with their own lives


3: begin to understand that the human animal _actually_ does
behave responsibly when free when young. I recognize that
few teachers are _interested_ in helping young people to be
free -- but to the extent that the wider community of
educationists comes to understand that free children are
_not_ a danger to themselves or society, it may become
harder for the next generation of educationsists to recruit
wardens for their prisons

By the way, I have NEVER written anything for the Kappan.
You have me confused with Peter Gray and/or David Chanoff.
You'd have to ask Peter and/or David yourself, but my guess
is that the stuy was done for science -- in order to
actually answer the question of how young people use
freedom, rather than in order to cajole teachers to "grant
more freedom."

My understanding, from my communications with Peter Gray, is
that he agrees with my stance. While some traditional
teachers may offer something more like "edutainment" than
"strict authoritarian education," those teachers are
expressly _not_ capable (in a traditional environment) of
offering _freedom_ or _democracy_ in any form, or of
"[furthering] the democratic school movement."

On Mon, 12 Nov 2001, Highland wrote:

> Scott,
> I've been away from the computer for a while, but want to respond to
> this message. I think you misunderstand my position about democracy, so
> I'll try to be clearer. I don't believe that "classrooms" in our
> commonly held definition - a place where kids are required to be and
> where they are evaluated according to a preformulated curriculum - are
> in any way democratic. That doesn't mean that I think we should not
> communicate with public school teachers who are interested in furthering
> the democratic school movement. Obviously, since you published an
> article in the Kappan, you must agree.
> Candy

--Scott David Gray
reply to:
Shamus, n. [Yiddish]: 
	A shamus is a guy who takes care of handyman tasks
around the temple, and makes sure everything is in working
	A shamus is at the bottom of the pecking order of
synagogue functionaries, and there's a joke about that:
	A rabbi, to show his humility before God, cries out
in the middle of a service, "Oh, Lord, I am nobody!"  The
cantor, not to be bested, also cries out, "Oh, Lord, I am
	The shamus, deeply moved, follows suit and cries,
"Oh, Lord, I am nobody!"  The rabbi turns to the cantor and
says, "Look who thinks he's nobody!" 

-- Arthur Naiman, "Every Goy's Guide to Yiddish" ============================================================


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