Hi Travis and Bruce,
I don't get your point. Are you saying that all un-requested offerings
of help are bad? Why, in heaven's name?
I have often in my life been offered unrequested help, and have always
been grateful for it. Examples are: a ride on a long road, a hand to lift a
heavy object, even advice on how to cut a banana without getting one's
hands dirty. And as a major example, an offer to pay for my university
education in Israel, where I had never thought of studying, and which I
was offered also -- and which also I accepted with thanks, and for which
experience I am to this day immensely grateful.
And many, many times in my life have I offered someone unrequested
help, like for example pushing their car when it wouldn't start: and I
don't recollect anyone ever being offended at my offering, or taken it
as "coercion" in any way. (And I have offered bigger and more impor-
tant sorts of help than that, when I thought the occasion called for such.)
If unrequested offerings of help are "Un-Sudbury" in any way, why then
it would appear that Sudbury -- under that interpretation -- is "un-human"
in some way: for I certainly do consider myself human! :-) (This is a joke!
THIS IS A J O K E ! ! !) <--(Just wanted to make sure I wasn't mis-
And if you imply that it's okay in an adult-adult situation but not in a
staff-student situation, then you are artificially distinguishing between
staff and students, who are all persons. Should not all persons be treated
(I made my views clear, in an earlier e-mail, on the subject of subtle
offerings of help which are nothing more than thinly disguised mani-
pulation, so I won't repeat myself there. As I had written, this is dis-
honesty, and applies to the adult world also, like for example a law-
yer who takes advantage of his or her client's ignorance of the law
to give advice which is in the lawyer's best interest, not the client's.
As I had written, I am NOT discussing such things here.)
> I must apologize outright for forgoing the formalities. I will try to be
> as concise on the issue as I can.
> If you sir are implying, (and I stress if: again, I hold nothing against
> you, and find it dangerous when anyone assumes this person meant "X") that
> this is in the context of Staff-student relationships, then I could not
> disagree more vehemently.
> If you are implying that their is no harm in "offering" students help,
> well, the only thing I can say is that you seem to be in disagreement with
> the Sudbury Philosophy. I grant you, this philosophy (underlines are inserted
> for a certain third party)! is interpreted sometimes, as it should be, but
> the fact remains clear: it falters not at all on the issue of coercion and,
> especially, UN-requested offerings of help.
> I do speak from the heart, so please be honest in responding with your
> true meaning. If this is what you meant, don't be afraid to say so! If it is
> not, and I interpreted it out of context, I take it all back. I ask that you
> trust me when I say these things.
> -Travis W.
And Bruce Smith wrote:
> At 1:57 PM 1/24/02, Ardeshir Mehta, N.D. wrote:
> >But GENUINE help, when it seems obviously needed, should al-
> >ways be offered. If you find a person injured on the street, don't
> >you offer your help? (Talking about adults only here.)
> earlier, you said:
> > >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.
> This latter comment doesn't reflect the reality of Sudbury schools. First
> of all, even unsolicited *offers* of help are problematic ("hey there, poor
> young person, would you like me to rescue you from your difficulty?").
> Secondly, as I've said before, Sudbury students are virtually never
> ignorant or shy of asking for help: they know where to go, whom to ask.
> Ardeshir, I get the feeling that you and I are talking past one another.
> You'll say something to the effect of "wouldn't you help someone who really
> needed it?," and I'll say, "well, yeah, if they ask or if I have a
> relationship with them that permits me to ask them what's wrong," and you
> say, "no, really, can't you just offer the help?," and I say, "if you're
> talking about Sudbury school staff, there are certain guidelines."
> Your use of the injured-person-in-the-street example is an interesting one.
> I've never seen someone at school have to wait, or ask, for help when
> they're injured. It's one of those instances where we're galvanized into
> action. (although I'll also point out that, as staff, I'll remain very
> watchful, in the background, if it's just a minor cut or something; wait
> until I'm asked to open the first-aid kit, which most of our students can
> do just fine on their own. There's a big difference between genuine
> distress and a boo-boo.)
> Yet physical injury and deep distress are one thing; adult-student dynamics
> in traditional schools quite another. To the extent that one solves
> problems for another, rescues them from having to confront problems
> themselves, to that extent one is disempowering them, taking responsibility
> away from them. That's what we try to avoid as Sudbury school staff. The
> number of problems that need our active, unsolicited intervention is
> amazingly small.
> And let's not overlook the fact that Sudbury staff are also full-fledged
> community members, and can (and should) speak up when something bothers us.
> It's a balancing act -- knowing how simultaneously to respect students and
> be active community members -- that's difficult to describe in email.
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This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0.0 : Wed Mar 27 2002 - 19:39:49 EST