Re: re[2]: DSM: democratic classroom

From: william van horn (wmvh1@excite.com)
Date: Sat Nov 17 2001 - 09:19:02 EST


Warren. Thanks for the response.

in order to know yourself, to find out
> who you are and where your purpose lies, which is the ultimate aim of
true
> education, you must BEGIN with freedom.

Agreed, with qualifications. Does the freedom of the Sudbury model work for
everyone?

One of the advantages that Sudbury has over public schools is that it has a
selection system. First, if a kid is too disruptive, even by Sudbury
standards, they can be expelled from school. I've read that this is highly
unusual, that said student usually responds to the committee in charge of
such things (I forget the name of the committee.) Maybe the kid prone to be
disrespectful to others' rights mutes his behavior because he knows he can
be kicked out of the school. Possibly, he is better behaved because he does
not have the frustration and such a clear authority to rebel against.

In public schools compulsory expulsion is usually because of weapon or drug
possession or use. Many other lesser offences may result in temporary
suspension, detention, etc., but this doesn't seem to matter with some of
the student population. What are the reasons that a student may be expelled
from a Sudbury school?

More importantly, Sudbury Schools are a choice. They have the advantage of
having students that chose to go there and choose to continue there. Have
any of your schools had students that, by their own choice, left Sudbury to
return to another school? Public schools have students that are not allowed
or are unable to make that choice.

Since Sudbury has students who chose to go there or have parents who support
them going there, there has been a screening out of students and parents
less internally motivated. The applicants are people who have a greater
ability to make intelligent choices based on there own needs rather than
going along with the crowd as sort of a default action

It's also an indication that the parents care and are involved with their
kid's lives. This is not true for every child. Some parents have no positive
involvement with their kids. They abuse them, verbally and/or physically,
and manipulate and control them. Or they just ignore them. These families
are not going to send their kids to Sudbury. But the public schools have to
accept them. Would these kids even know how to deal with unlimited freedom
or do they need some closer attention? Does Sudbury accept (or get
applications from) students with mental retardation (including Downs
Syndrome) or other severe physical and/or cognitive disabilities? The public
schools are required to accommodate these students. Would these students
even benefit from the freedom at a SVS?

I've worked with both of these groups and have seen the sparks of interest
and the abilities, though often hidden, but they would be unable to operate
on their own. In first case, they will need some intervention to help guide
them to the place where they can see their own self-worth. Its unlikely they
would find it on their own This is also often the case with kids with
disabilities when they are concentrating on what they canŐt do rather than
what they can do. And, some just do not have the skills to live completely
independently.

How does the Sudbury model fit in here? I AM NOT saying that the current
system of the public schools is the answer. I have seen where they fail with
these kids also. Maybe fail more because these groups of kids are less
flexible and are more prone to suggestion. The point though, is that the
Sudbury model would not work for every student. How can we help those
students? What is the school model for those students?

On Fri, 16 Nov 2001 11:50:57 -0500, discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org wrote:

> William writes:
> "...but should these students be ignored? Is the only answer for me to
> create a democratic school? And
> barring that, maybe I should just become a dishwasher and leave the
students
> to the teachers that beleive that passing the SAT is the culmination of a
> good education."
>
> With respect, my answers would be yes, yes and yes. A point I made
> previously in this thread is that, in order to know yourself, to find out
> who you are and where your purpose lies, which is the ultimate aim of
true
> education, you must BEGIN with freedom. Freedom is the prerequisite for
> self-knowledge, self-discovery. The SVS model guarantees freedom through
> the use of democratic governance in precisely the way your country does.
> The point of the democratic school is not to teach children how to be
free
> or what democracy means, it just guarantees that they are free so they
can
> pursue their own path.
>
> So, helping students in a non-democratic school understand the nature of
> their bondage does not help them and probably does more harm than good.
> From a child's perspective, an adult authoritarian figure, representative
of
> the system in which he is employed, standing before them describing the
true
> nature of their lot in contrast to a free and democratic alternative,
must
> seem the height of hypocracy. Not only are you doing it to them but you
now
> explain in detail the exact nature of their situation so that they can
> better appreciate just how oppressed they really are... and then pick up
> your paycheque at the end of the day. You cannot change the traditional
> non-democratic schools from within and any attempt to try simply serves
to
> support the system as it is. If you must teach in such a school, then
just
> help them pass their SAT's, don't burden them with your own political or
> personal agenda and, above all, do no harm.
>
> What the "... teachers that beleive that passing the SAT is the
culmination
> of a
> good education." have is integrity. They may be misguided as to the true
> purpose of education but they truly believe in the system in which they
are
> employed and they believe they are helping their students. Any teacher
who
> does not teach with this integrity should get out and start a democratic
> school... or wash dishes, as you suggest.
>
> Please, William, do not take this as a personal affront. All of the
example
> I have used here is really from my own experience teaching in
non-democratic
> classrooms over 25 years. The hypocrite was I.
>
> Warren
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: william van horn <wmvh1@excite.com>
> To: <discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org>
> Sent: Sunday, November 04, 2001 2:48 PM
> Subject: Re: re[2]: DSM: democratic classroom
>
>
> > You're right, they also need to know what they can do about it, the
> > possibilities for change. But they can't create change when they do
not
> > know something exists. There's a difference between knowing that you
do
> not
> > like the system, and accepting it, and realizing that the system is
> unfair,
> > that this is what you have to work with, and, hopefully, to try to make
> > changes nonetheless.
> >
> > I'm living in a fairly conservative district and I see a lot of
acceptance
> > (and even embracement) of the system and its restrictions. I feel that
if
> I
> > can help the students see creatively and personally just a little
better
> > then there may be a chance for them to, somewhere down the road even,
> begin
> > to question what they see and what they are told. Its a small change,
and
> > certainly not the opportunity of a SUdbury school, but should these
> students
> > be ignored? Is the only answer for me to create a democratic school?
And
> > barring that, maybe I should just become a dishwasher and leave the
> students
> > to the teachers that beleive that passing the SAT is the culmination of
a
> > good education.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > -----
> > > From: "Bruce Smith" <bsmith@coin.org>
> > > To: <discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org>
> > > Sent: Friday, November 02, 2001 5:32 AM
> > > Subject: Re: re[2]: DSM: democratic classroom
> > >
> > >
> > > > William,
> > > >
> > > > Here's how I'm interpreting your post: if I and/or others feel
that
> our
> > > > votes don't count, if American democracy is indeed "a shallow game
> > > > controlled by a few powerful people," then what's wrong with
showing
> > > > students that? Well, I'll tell you what's wrong with it: that is
not
> > how
> > > it
> > > > has to be. Citizens _can_ organize and effect real change. It's
often
> > not
> > > > easy, but it can and does happen. Besides, I think the point's
been
> > made
> > > > before that if you want to know how much an individual's vote
counts,
> > you
> > > > can ask Al Gore.
> > > >
> > > > And if I'm wrong, then at least we could do ourselves a favor and
> stop
> > > > pretending that it is a democracy.
> > > >
> > > > Being cynical and pessismistic about the status quo is yet another
> > gripe I
> > > > have about conventional education. "That's just the way things
are"
> is
> > a
> > > > sorry excuse for inflicting as much unpleasantness on students as
> > possible
> > > > ("well, golly, the real world is full of shit, so we'd better get
> them
> > > used
> > > > to it now"), thereby churning out still more passive graduates who
> > expect
> > > > life to suck, and believe themselves powerless to change that.
> > > >
> > > > Do you want to just accept that things suck, or do something about
> it?
> > Do
> > > > you want kids to feel empowered, or victims of a corrupt system?
> > > >
> > > > Bruce
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > At 9:11 PM 11/1/01, william van horn wrote:
> > > > >. All I see it preparing
> > > > >> students for is a life of believing that democracy itself is a
> > shallow
> > > > >game
> > > > >> controlled by a few powerful people.
> > > > >>
> > > > >> Bruce Smith
> > > > >> Alpine Valley School
> > > > >
> > > > >Sorta like it usually works in the United States, right? How much
do
> > you
> > > > >feel that your vote counts?
> > > > >
> > > > >William M. Van Horn
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
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> > William M. Van Horn
> > wmvh1@excite.com
> > http://www.angelfire.com/art/inmystudio
> >
> >
> >
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William M. Van Horn
wmvh1@excite.com
http://www.angelfire.com/art/inmystudio

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