Re: DSM: students rights

From: Scott David Gray (sgray@aramis.sudval.org)
Date: Sat Jan 26 2002 - 11:37:29 EST


Hi Ann,

On Sat, 26 Jan 2002, Ann Ide wrote:

> 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

Maybe. Though I do think that one very important thing that
most alumni (myself included) take from the school is that
"it takes all kinds to make a world." It seems that the
world needs people who are interested in foremost in dancing
or fixing aircraft, just as surely as it needs philosophers
like yourself or myself.

As system administrator in the Internet Room, I don't care
whether or not the students who use the computers know why
the library corporation has a policy that one cannot install
or use programs such as Outlook Express. But if a student
wants to know, or if a question about the policy is raised
in a Library Corporation meeting, I am happy to explain the
position that Outlook Express is a virus magnet and that
using it greatly increaces the liklihood of the Internet
being inaccesible from time to time while I work to get the
viruses off the computers.

Likewise, as a proponent of the school, I don't have any
problem with people who enjoy the school for what it is
without knowing the philosophical underpinnings that make it
that way. And obviously I wouldn't maintain this list if I
didn't also enjoy talking about the philosophy with the DSM
community.

> 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.

That's a question that has been discussed in school at some
length. The feeling of most people, after a lot of thought
about the issue, was that handing someone a book would send
an unstated message that "you should read this -- despite
the fact that you've gotten a sense of what the school would
mean for you in the interview." Some fear that this would
make us appear to be endorsing a "pro SVS" curriculum for
the parents, and could thereby undermine our attempts to
communicate the most central aspect of the school -- that we
are pluralistic and have no curriculum!

In addition, some people at SVS have the concern that things
people get "for free" are devalued in their minds. You can
see this in action with computer software -- many people
would rather buy a piece of software than use one that is
maintained by the Free Software Foundation under the Gnu
Public License. I don't know that handing books to people
increaces the likelihood that they will read it any more
than the act of passing books out (like flyers on
windshields) makes people want to toss it in the trash.

However, other Sudbury schools have chosen differently.
It's certainly a reasonable idea, but the school community
at SVS isn't motivated to try it at this time. It does seem
that it may do some good in smaller schools, where being
handed a book may have more the air of a personal decision
than an institutional decision.

> 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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-- 
 
--Scott David Gray
reply to: sgray@sudval.org
http://www.unseelie.org/
============================================================
It has continually struck us that there is no element in
modern life that is more lamentable than the fact that the
modern man has to seek all artistic existence in a sedentary
state. If he wishes to float into fairyland, he reads a
book; if he wishes to dash into the thick of battle, he
reads a book; if he wishes to soar into heaven, he reads a
book; if he wishes to slide down the banisters, he reads a
book.  We give him these visions, but we give him exercise
at the same time, the necessity of leaping from wall to
wall, of fighting strange gentlemen, of running down long
streets from pursuers -- all healthy and pleasant exercises. 
We give him a glimpse of that great morning world of Robin
Hood or the Knights Errant, when one great game was played
under the splendid sky.  We give him back his childhood,
that godlike time when we can act stories, be our own
heroes, and at the same instant dance and dream.

-- G. K. Chesterton, 1905, The Club of Queer Trades. ============================================================

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