Re: DSM: students rights

From: Ann Ide (ann.ide@rcn.com)
Date: Sat Jan 26 2002 - 09:48:43 EST


Hi,
For what it's worth, here is my position on this matter of how important is
was for me to understand the school philosophy and "what matters" to me:

I'm a detail kinda person and also have this desire for knowing things will
be okay (learning to accept the uncertainties in life seems to be one of my
life lessons that I'm still working on). Therefore, I needed to know as
much as possible before committing to SVS. Before I committ to something, I
need to have a pretty strong belief that it is the "right" thing to do. I
don't think I'm that unusual in this sense. This poses an interesting
question: how and do parents committ to public school? I'll leave that for
now, though.

I read a number of the Sudbury press books before our interview and spent
some time talking to one of the families. Prior to that, I only vaguely
understood what being free meant and I couldn't understand how it would
work. I had a strong background and experiences which told me conventional
schooling was "bad" and had pursued independent learning programs
extensively for myself, too! Yet, I STILL couldn't send my kids there
without understanding the full scope of it. It's hard for me to imagine
that parents who don't understand it wouldn't keep asking their kids the
wrong questions. How in the world do they respond to all the family
members,etc. who question and challenge their decision???

Looking for apparent "happiness" is not enough for me. Jesse seemed very
happy in public school. Many kids do. Does that mean it's good for them?
It is only from my reading and studying that I decided what I believe is
important for them to learn and what indicators to look for it happening.
That might sound wrong; but you know what I'm talking about here- things
like self-esteem, self-direction, etc. I am often asked by others," How do
you know they are learning?" It's a good question. It's also important to
ask, "What is learning?" Most people think learning is about stored
knowledge banks in the brain that you can regurgitate.

So, there's my story. I can't help but think that the more parents
understood the model, the more supported the kids would be and the less
stress around the issue there would be for everyone, staff included. I
think it would be a good idea to include a book in the application packet
(up the price $10 to cover the cost) and request or require it be read
before the interview.
Hope this is a help, Warren. I have a feeling what gets so many kids into
SVS in spite of parental indifference,etc. is the discontent with the public
schools. You can do "marketing" from that angle, of course.

Ciao,
Ann Ide

----- Original Message -----
From: "Warren McMillan" <warren@bmts.com>
To: <discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org>
Sent: Friday, January 25, 2002 8:27 PM
Subject: Re: DSM: students rights

> Hi Joe, Travis et al. If I can jump in here with an observation that
seems
> relevant. This is a subject to which I have given some thought. My
> observation was the first thing that came to my mind when I first stepped
> onto the grounds of the Sudbury Valley school last summer. My thought
was,
> who wouldn't want to send their child here? It occurred to me, at that
> time, that it wouldn't matter much what the philosophy was, if I could
> afford to send my child to a private school, what more beautiful place
would
> there be than this? And if I sent my child and he/she was happy there,
> well, as a parent that might be enough for me. This thought was
reinforced
> by my experience at the short-lived attempt at a Sudbury school that was
the
> Indian River school. Prior to opening the school, from last April through
> to August, I held regular information meetings for prospective parents in
> which I went over and over the basic philosophy and tried to impress on
them
> the importance of understanding and agreeing with the philosophy before
they
> made a decision to enrol their children. In spite of this, by the time
the
> school closed its doors, it was very clear to me that virtually none of
the
> parents really understood the philosophy, with one exception being a staff
> member as well as a parent. Moreover, as I got to know them, I realized
> that it didn't really matter to them. Each saw in the school a quality
that
> suited their own purposes quite apart from the stated philosophy. Now, it
> might have been that I did not effectively convey the philosophy in the
> first place but I just wonder how much it would have mattered to them
> anyway.
> Now I hope this doesn't throw a wrench into this thread and, if it does,
> just ignore this and carry on as you were, otherwise, I would be
interested
> in what people, perhaps especially Sudbury parents, think about this.
That
> is, how important, to parents, is the philosophy of the school? And which
> is most important to parents: that my child be free? that my child be
happy?
> that the school is a beautiful place to be?
> The reason I am interested in this is that I am thinking about trying
again
> to start a Sudbury school and the answers to these questions would have a
> bearing on how I approach parents next time around.
> I should make one thing clear and that is that I have absolutely no doubt
in
> my mind about the importance of the philosophy for _children_ but it is
the
> parents I must reach in order to get enrollment hence the need to focus on
> their perceptions.
>
> Warren
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Joe Jackson <shoeless@jazztbone.com>
> To: <discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org>
> Sent: Friday, January 25, 2002 7:10 PM
> Subject: RE: DSM: students rights
>
>
> > Hi, Travis. You wrote:
> >
> > > we say that ideally (it would)! it
> > > would be a good
> > > think if parents were not initiating overly coercive
> > > measurers within the
> > > home environment. Sadly, as with so many other things in
> > > life, this is not a
> > > realistic estimation. Indeed, more then anyone, if I had my
> > > way, we would
> > > throw all of these people out. But then we would be losing an
> > > extremely
> > > substantial portion of our school.
> >
> > And
> >
> >
> > > the number of parents who, forget about
> > > agreeing with the philosophy, are indifferent to it is
> > > minimal enough! Based
> > > on my limited observations, right now, you are LUCKY if your
> > > parents, such as
> > > mine, have a general indifference to the school and are
> > > simply glad that
> > > their kids are happy.
> >
> > Are you saying that in your estimation the vast majority of the parents
> > at Sudbury Valley are there in spite of the fact that they are in
> > disagreement with the philosophy? I find that a little shocking, and I
> > hope, in the interest of the welfare of Sudbury Valley School, that your
> > estimation is off!
> >
> > Thanks for giving your time to this list - your perspectives are very
> > welcome.
> >
> > -Joe Jackson
> >
> >
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