Re: DSM: sense of community

From: Bruce Smith (
Date: Wed Dec 05 2001 - 20:55:08 EST

>If you mean by a sense of community that a Sudbury school allows for the
>possibility for individuals to care for themselves while remaining
>respectful to
>the needs of the entire group, I would say that sometimes it does fulfill that
>need for individuals and sometimes it doesn't.

Angela, I'm having a little trouble following your syntax. A Sudbury school
does _allow_ for "individuals to care for themselves while remaining
respectful." But are you suggesting Sudbury schools don't guarantee that
each individual is always treated with respect? If so, well, how could any
school do that? Sudbury schools have mechanisms to enforce this basic
cultural norm (e.g., JC), and many SM members constantly work on building a
respectful culture, but the fact remains that in a group of any size, some
people will be disrespectful at times. So you deal with that as best you
can -- talking to individuals, writing people up, raising the issue in
School Meeting, etc. -- in an effort to raise awareness.

>It is the general will of the majority though, that sometimes can make some
>members feel like outsiders (in my opinion and experience).

Exactly -- it's the _culture_. As I said above, many of us at Sudbury
schools work very hard, in countless situations and discussions, to create
a culture of respect. We try to emphasize that in some real sense, we're
all responsible for the general welfare and condition of the school. For
example, we can tell people that the long-term health of the school depends
on growth, which in turn depends on being welcoming to new people, and
respectful towards all.

It is true that we sometimes encounter people who are so caught up in the
freedom side of the equation, they overlook the need to be respectful and
responsible as well. So we argue all we can for this broader perspective.
But of course you can't really force people to agree with you, and so it
takes a significant amount of time to develop a positive school culture. In
fact, I doubt that the work of culture-building ever ends.



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