Re: DSM: Graduates without essential life skills

Date: Thu Nov 29 2001 - 23:02:50 EST

Hi Mark,

Thanks for the questions.

I once visited a school with four and five year olds in the class. I was with
them for a couple of hours and then we sat down for morning snak. We all sat
around a table in little chairs. Just as we got settled the care giver was
called away to another room to attend to another child. Just as soon as she
leaves, the whole table, all the children "arrive". Back and forth, up and
down the table talking and smiling and laughing. In one stunning instant,
they have become completely different. I had not seen this all morning. I
keep eating my sliced apple and peanut butter. On and on they go, this and
that, back and forth, up and down, laughing and smiling. And then the care
giver comes back. And in another stunning instant, in one instant, they are
gone, back to the way they had been all morning. Stunned, I at least knew I
didn't need to visit any more schools. Five year olds, the whole lot of them,
already knew when it was safe to be present in their own lives, and when it

Constant chronic attack, leads to constant chronic defense. The child is in a
fight for their very survival, and so the defense is reasonable and
necessary. But then the behavior becomes automated. Soon the defense itself
will cripple them. Because the defense takes so much of their emotional

And then they arrive at Sudbury. And the description is that they at first
just sit. They are resting. They can't believe the barrage is over. Remember
they are used to being attacked, literally, hundreds of times a day. (In a
middle school math class, I once visited, the teacher said "shh", every third
word. That would be about once every three seconds, or a thousand times a

So, then Sudbury fails to attack all day and all week and all month and all
year, year after year. And so the child, year after year fails to see the
need to defend. And thus, arrives at undefended life. And now, freed from
spending enormous amounts of energy defending themselves, they have enormous
amounts of energy to build their own lives and pursue their interests.

Plasicine is just an example of what they create (with all this energy) when
they are free. A discription is found in "Kingdom of Childhood" (Sudbury
Press). A description of defense is found in "The Fantasy Bond - Effects of
Psychological Defenses on Interpersonal Relations", Robert Firestone.

Warm Regards,
Bill Richardson



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