Re: DSM: students rights

From: Bruce Smith (bsmith@coin.org)
Date: Thu Jan 24 2002 - 09:06:58 EST


>But even if the help is unsolicited, one can always OFFER
>to help. If the offer is rejected, fine, don't help! But sometimes
>a person may not even know that help is possible -- and thus
>may not even ask for it.

I'm coming at this from the perspective of Sudbury school dynamics, which
have a subtlety that is sometimes difficult to convey. Joe had made the
point that one should never take the responsibility of asking, choosing,
etc. away from the student. This is what I'm trying to clarify and
elaborate on.

Vis-a-vis students, adults can exercise undue influence so easily, without
intending or trying. At Sudbury schools, the lack of distance and the
absence of a power imbalance between staff and student result in direct,
honest, and ongoing relationships. Two of the results of this dynamic:
first, it is extremely rare that any student is unaware or hesistant about
asking for help; second, if a staff is engaged in conversation with a
student, and it becomes clear that the student is frustrated by or seeking
something, it's only natural that the staff, as a concerned fellow
community member, will mention the availability of help.

Yet this is a far cry from the more traditional dynamic, where adults
habitually assess and intervene -- offering help, yes, but in a way that
takes the responsibility for initiative and self-direction away from
students.

Bruce

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