Re: DSM: What if....? about re-entry

From: Scott David Gray (sgray@aramis.sudval.org)
Date: Sat Dec 01 2001 - 23:09:38 EST


On Sat, 1 Dec 2001, SRF wrote:

> I've looked for postings on this topic and found a few from November. I'm
> hoping for more discussion.
>
> Bear with me, I'm new around here. And very happy to find this thriving
> community, since I have not yet found anyone in my town that is familiar
> with the Sudbury model.
>
> I suspect that our path to your door is a familiar one.
>
> Our 2 kids (ages 7 and 10) are in our local public schools. With each
> passing year (now, each passing day), it has become more obvious that
> something is terribly wrong with this warehousing of kids. While researching
> a better way, I came across references to the Sudbury model, which I tracked
> to their source. I've read everything I can find online, and will soon get
> to the books.
>
> Meanwhile, we've considered what this would mean to other aspects of our
> lives. As it turns out, *this* is where we run into the difficult questions.
> A possible relocation for work (and 'quality of life') opportunities might
> be presenting us with a great opportunity to make changes. Well, that's nice
> and positive when the direction is *toward* a better model. But what happens
> if life's circumstances force a turn *away* in a few years? What if... a
> child has brought herself to great understanding of some things (like
> sciences), but completely avoided others (like writing) because of a lack of
> interest, or because of her total absorption in something else? What if...
> she has grown so accustomed to spending her days as a participating member
> of a democratic learning society she can't handle the warehouse? What if...
> she has adjusted to learning without artificial barriers and has not
> developed any way to cope with the structures of a curriculum
> (learn-on-demand)?
>
> We have few (probably none, but we haven't read those books yet) doubts
> about the success of the Sudbury model over the long run. But the hazards of
> a possible re-entry are frightening. Of course, we don't like to let the
> fear of unknowable risk keep us from rewarding experiences. But this isn't
> really unknowable. I'm sure that many people have faced a re-entry into
> mainstream schools. Any first or second hand experience to be found in the
> list membership? Scott, you wrote about how easy the public school material
> is and commented, "How hard can it be to catch up?" You may be right about
> that assumption. What if a 14 year old child goes back to traditional school
> on a 8th, 10th, or higher grade level in math, and a 3rd grade level in
> writing? If she wasn't inspired to learn the skill in a SVM school, what
> would motivate her to catch up in a public school? Especially if she has
> lost her vulnerability to authoritarian pressures, test scores, and all
> those other horrible sticks & carrots. And how do the parents of re-entering
> kids deal with the administrator of traditional schools?

  People who have been in traditional schools for many years
from a young age are used to thinking of school as "the way
it is done." Nontheless, some (only a few, and usually with
understanding families) find it in their hearts to refuse to
buy into it.
  You are suggesting that, having had an outside perspective
and seeing that things _don't_ have to be done that way, a
kid is less likely to buy into it.

  I think that you're probably _right_ that fewer kids who
"re-enter" traditional school buy into it than those who
were in traditional school for most of their young lives.
Certainly, when I re-entered traditional school (i.e.
college), I found it _very_ easy to take the whole archaic
system with a grain of salt.
  So I guess that I'd turn the question back on you. If you
are forced to spend most of your young life in a prison,
aren't you a little better off if you have had an
opportunity to step back from it a bit and see the prison
for what it is? Won't it be easier for you to get for
yourself what you need, when you have faced the fact that
following _their_ curricula is not the be-all and end-all of
life? You make it sound like it is _bad_ for a prisoner to
lose her/his vulnerability to authoritarian pressures -- and
I don't agree with your assumption.
  Like it or not, every person's education _is_ in her/his
own hands. Letting young people remember that, by loosening
the screws for even a little while, seems to me to be a very
valuable lesson. Much more valuable than _anything_ that
could be gained by "catching or keeping up" with an
arbitrary authority's idea of what you should know.

  That said, what may be even _more_ tragic than
uninterrupted life in traditional school is when it remains
feasible for a family to continue to send a child to a
Sudbury school, but the child's parents _choose_ to pull
back the trust from their kids. Certainly if this had
happened to _me_ growing up, I would have felt betrayed by
my parents -- and that could never be healthy.
  However, if the school simply becomes out of _reach_ (as
you describe), I cannot imagine it creating more problems in
the home or for the child than remaining in traditional
school would create.

> I hope any responses to Morticia's questions about Sudbury method in the
> home get posted to the list, since I've also been wondering about this.
> Morticia, I'd appreciate it if you'd share any off-list replies with me.
> Thanks!
>
> Sally  ......._/)
> ~~~~~~~~~~
>
>
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-- 
 
--Scott David Gray
reply to: sgray@sudval.org
http://www.unseelie.org/
============================================================
I like to believe that people in the long run are going to
do more to promote peace than our governments.  Indeed, I
think that people want peace so much that one of these days
governments had better get out of the way and let them have
it. 

-- Dwight D. Eisenhower ============================================================

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