Re: DSM: Is not the goal of Sudbury FREEDOM?

From: Ardeshir Mehta, N.D. (
Date: Wed Jan 30 2002 - 15:03:44 EST

Hi Travis,

Thanks for your reply.

You wrote:

> First of all, I will address the following:
> > "What you are talking about, instead, is Liberal Education at its most
> > honest. But even liberal education at its most honest is not SVS. It
> > has an ulterior MOTIVE: that motive being, to "prepare" the child
> > for something. That is the goal of the institution, and the institution
> > succeeds or fails by how well or how ill it prepares the child for
> > that "something" (whatever it might be: democracy, responsibility,
> > life, whatever)."
> I choose to forgo my traditional "asking," pertaining to what the
> sender "actually" meant.
> By writing this, at the very least, you were implying that the context
> of my analytical statements pertaining to a Sudbury Valley-type
> education was coming from a "Liberal Education" standpoint, or at least,
> mirroring it. This is, truly, beyond ridiculous.
> It would appear that you have chosen to throw away the fact that I
> have been nothing save militant _against_ Liberal Education in my
> writings, and all that it entails. And yet, you have the tenacity to compare
> Liberal Education in any way to my statements? To imply that my
> arguments mirror those of the former? I cannot begin to understand.

That's right. I think you don't even begin to understand that by in-
sisting that Sudbury is a type of Education, you are actually insist-
ing that it is in fact a Liberal Education.

If you would understand that Freedom and Education -- when Edu-
cation is the goal for which Freedom is a means -- are mutually ex-
clusive, then you *might* begin to understand what I am saying!

Freedom and Education are mutually exclusive in this respect be-
cause the latter has one or more goals in mind, "agenda". It succeeds
or fails by how well its goals are attained at the *end* of the pro-
cess of education. There has to be some evaluation, some way to
tell that the child has improved as a result of being in that situation.
If the child does not improve, the goals are not attained; and then
the means to the goal have to be reviewed, and those that contri-
bute to the "failure" to attain the goal must be jettisoned.

Freedom, on the other hand, can have no agenda -- or if one *must*
say that it does, its agenda (or rather agendum, for there can at
most be only one) is *itself*. In other words, the means and the
goal must be the same.

That's because any particular means is/are dispensable, if the goal is
not attained -- or not *best* attained -- using it/them. But the goal
itself can hardly be dispensable!

(For instance, if my goal is to cut down as many trees as I can in a
given time period, then an axe may not be the best means to attain
that goal. The axe, then, becomes dispensable in favour of some-
thing more efficient, like maybe a chain saw, or perhaps something
even bigger and more able to chop down trees quickly. And even
that becomes dispensable once something yet more efficient has
been found!)

If Education is *not* best attained by giving Freedom, then Free-
dom has no value -- *if the goal is Education*. Then Freedom can
be dispensed with in favour of something more efficient -- like
maybe brain-washing!

But if the goal *itself* is Freedom, then Freedom -- as a means to
attain it -- is *not* indispensable, for a thing is by nature *insepar-
able* from itself!

The *only* way Freedom, as a means, and its goal -- *whatever*
that goal may be -- can *ever* become inseparable is if the goal is
the *same* as Freedom.

But who can claim that Freedom and *Education* are the same?
Obviously they're not. Therefore Education *cannot* be the goal of
Freedom, unless Freedom is considered to be dispensable.

Is that how you see Sudbury? A place where Freedom is dispensa-

If you don't, then you have to admit that the very goal of Sudbury
ought to be -- *must* be -- be Freedom! Not Education at all.
There is no other logical conclusion possible.

> You are a very intelligent person, Ardeshir. I simply refuse to believe
> that you don't realize, then or now, that this is an utterly absurd
> observation, lacking any validity whatsoever.

Now you are an intelligent person too. Tell me, where is the flaw in
my logic above?

> As of now, I am thoroughly convinced that you have _no idea_ what
> Sudbury Valley is about. But do you know, I acknowledge the possibility
> that I don't ether. If a founder told me I was full of shit, so be it. I do not
> pretend to be God. But here is the difference between you and I. On our
> specific issue, I have greater validity when addressing its nature.
> I hope that you take pains not to misinterpret what I said. It is really
> quite simple. I am not saying that you are out of place in having opinions
> on education in general. I am not saying that you are out of place when
> having opinions about Sudbury Valley in general.
> But, when you write in the particular context that you did, a lecturing
> context, not a "I respectfully disagree with you" context, at that point, we
> look at our chips. What do you have? I was attended for 4 years the
> _mother_ of all Liberal Schools. I have been a student at Sudbury Valley
> for 8 years. I left Sudbury Valley 2 years into enrollment to attend my
> local Public School for a year. My family is still, to say the very least,
> heavily involved in my former Liberal School. These are simply facts,
> not to be "interpreted."
> Now you can talk about how you disagree with this or that, but
> _lecturing_ me about what Sudbury is _really_ about, instead of giving
> your _opinion_ on it, is wrong. Perhaps I should rephrase: you gave your
> opinion, yes, but you also gave so much more. Indeed, people who
> debate must realize at all times (common knowledge)! that no matter
> how good you are, no matter how articulate, it is extremely dangerous to
> step over the cliff, into the abyss, _in which you have no expertise or
> experience whatsoever_.
> Because those who do it know it is inevitable that their fraudulence,
> their inability to back statements, will be called upon. Sir, I accuse you of
> a e-mail that smacked strongly of lecturing.

First of all, did I ever say in any e-mail of mine that I was lectur-
ing? I did not.

I *pointed out a logical flaw* in the line of reasoning which reached
a conclusion that children should be given freedom because their
education is best attained thereby; and I challenge you or anyone
else to show me where this logic is flawed.

If you can show me no flaw in this logic, it doesn't matter, does it,
that I know less about Sudbury than you do. All that matters is
whether this logic is flawed or not!

And if this logic is *not* flawed, why do you accuse me of "lec-
turing"? Should one accuse people of "lecturing" if they put forth
an argument one cannot counter?

It seems to me that by saying "Sir, I accuse you of a e-mail that
smacked strongly of lecturing", you are trying to attack my *per-
son* rather than my logic. Attack my logic all you want, but do it
logically! If you can't, though, why attack my person, accusing me
of doing something I never claimed to be doing?

But I admit that I did misinterpret Sudbury when I said that Sud-
bury is not Education. I was taking my data from previous e-mails
by Scott and Bill, who, I thought, knew what the stated goals of
Sudbury are. I find from Mike's e-mail of yesterday that the stated
goal of Sudbury, as per its by-laws, *is* in fact a type of Educa-
tion; and that Freedom is merely declared to be a means to attain it.

And as I replied to Mike, I am exceedingly sorry to learn this, for if
this is correct, then there *is* in fact no such thing as a genuine free
school in North America.

I am not yet sure, however, who is right: Mike or Bill. I have not
yet read all the documents in which Sudbury states all of its goals.

But if -- *if*! -- the declared goal(s) of Sudbury do/does *not* in-
clude Freedom -- and that too, Freedom for Freedom's sake alone,
and not for the sake of attaining any result therefrom -- then as I
say, I am exceeding saddened, and feel that Sudbury has merely
been masquerading as a free school rather than actually being one.

And then I hold to my previous conclusion, that Sudbury is, in that
case, merely a school offering Liberal Education -- Liberal Educa-
tion at its best, perhaps, but merely Liberal Education.

For goal is the same -- namely, Education; and the only difference
of opinion is about the best way to attain it.

> I am not pleased with our current situation. If you have mentioned in
> the past experience you have had that I did not take into account, well,
> please mention it again. To my knowledge, though, you have no
> concrete experience in any of the particular area's I mentioned. I fear
> that you may be misinterpreting Sudbury Valley, and all issues
> pertaining to it, to a degree so sever as to warrant no solution
> whatsoever.

Other than the matter which I wrote about above, namely regarding
the stated goals of Sudbury, if I am misinterpreting Sudbury Valley
and all issues pertaining to it, then point out the specific issue I am

All I have done, if you will read my e-mails, is to say what some
others on this very forum have said before me, and to reach a logi-
cal conclusion from certain material brought to my attention (such
as the quote from the by-laws of Sudbury quoted by Mike.) Point
out, in these e-mails, specifically which issues I am misinterpreting,
if you can!

And if you can't, then why not acknowledge that you can't?


Ardeshir <>.


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