Re: DSM: On Certainty and language.

From: BBWIA13@aol.com
Date: Thu Jan 31 2002 - 09:54:30 EST


In a message dated 1/29/2002 9:50:07 PM Eastern Standard Time,
Sugmapl@aol.com writes:

<BLOCKQUOTE TYPE=CITE style="BORDER-LEFT: #0000ff 2px solid; MARGIN-LEFT:
5px; MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px; PADDING-LEFT: 5px">Here is the reasoning for how
Sudbury is not education.

For a definition of freedom and respect, I mean exactly what you are offered
every day at Sudbury. The question is: Are you offered that freedom and
respect every day in order to, in your words, "prepare you to be a productive

and responsible member of the community at large?" If you are offered freedom

and respect for that reason, indeed, if Sudbury has a goal in mind when they
offer you freedom and respect, then Sudbury is, indeed, education. And then
it immediately follows that the freedom and respect that you are being
offered is a teaching method.

But my best understanding (And correct me here, if you feel I am in error) is

that the above is simply not the case. The freedom and respect that you are
offered at Sudbury is indeed real. It is a freedom that is offered freely.
(Again, please correct me if you feel I am in error.) And if you and the
other children accept this freedom as freely offered, then it is indeed
freely offered. Because believe it or not, it is your and the other
children's' understanding that actually defines what Sudbury is. If you take
the freedom and respect that is offered as genuine and freely offered, then
it isn't teaching method, and Sudbury is not education.

Warmest Regards,
Bill Richardson
</BLOCKQUOTE>

Bill,

       Thank you for your post. I found it to be interesting. However, I
would like to respond to some specific points that you mentioned. Indeed, I
will take you up on your offer to "correct" some of your observations!
       The nature of my disagreements is simple enough. The first opportunity
you gave for disagreement on my part was:

"For a definition of freedom and respect, I mean exactly what you are offered

every day at Sudbury. The question is: Are you offered that freedom and
respect every day in order to, in your words, "prepare you to be a productive

and responsible member of the community at large?" If you are offered freedom

and respect for that reason, indeed, if Sudbury has a goal in mind when they
offer you freedom and respect, then Sudbury is, indeed, education. And then
it immediately follows that the freedom and respect that you are being
offered is a teaching method."

       Now, I assume that some of your intentions in this e-mail were to
convey the importance of freedom and respect as a baseline, a precursor if
you will, to all other issues that pertain to school (and education) in
general. And this I understand, and agree with.
       But now we are at the heart of the matter. There are aspects of
"Sudbury Valley" (as of now, "Sudbury Valley" will refer to all of the things
that this type of education completely unique) that you and I and many others
can agree on when discussing the issue. I will state the obvious ones. We
believe that children deserve the same respect that adults are given, and
that children should be treated as responsible people. We believe that
children should not be required to conform to any academic curricula. We
believe that they should be free to exist in a democratic society, and have
inherent within them with the same potential to change or effect their
surroundings as any other person in the school. That can reasonably be called
the essence.
       While we are in supreme agreement on these issues, I simply cannot
comprehend why their is a case being made that Sudbury Valley is not
"education." Typically, a dictionary definition would resolve at least one
aspect of the disagreement. But part of the reason that I do see Sudbury
Valley as an "educational" institution is because I believe that the
dictionary definition is very applicable to the school.
       It appears to me that what is happening is that many people are
associating the word "education," in one way or another, with Public School,
or at least traditional "education."
       But, certainly, the word allows for much interpretation! I would like
to think there are many of the values, pertaining to children, that we share
in common. But do you know, I perceive it as an error to take these values,
and essentially make the school an environment where your own, personal
values on child rearing and children in general can be played out. Indeed,
these values must be utilized, grafted, molded (but not changed)! To fit an
education process, for which they were designed for in the first place.
       Previously, I mentioned my beliefs on the "purpose" of any school. I
stick to my beliefs. I am afraid, however, that they have been
misinterpreted. You see, by postulating my specific views on the issue, it
appears people got the impression that my definition changed previously held
contentions. Specifically, that Sudbury Valley is anything like public
school. In fact, Sudbury Valley is nothing like Public School, not in the
least.
       Certainly, Sudbury Valley is not a public place to raise children!
This is a problem that has witnessed some prevalence over the years, because
there are so many people who think otherwise.
       It is a legitimate institution, and educational institution at that. I
call upon Mike Sadofsky's reference to the by-law's. It is an educational
institution that embodies values for preparing children. Indeed, talk to
those who are on the Thesis Committee. The school believes that the
application of total freedom, respect, and responsibility, will result a
person who is used to these things, and hence, a productive adult to live in
our society.
       Granted, the inherent complexities and overlapping societal theories
that are tied into our discussion can easily overwhelm. However, I would ask
that you pay concise attention to my next point. Yourself, along with our
friend Ardeshir, have certain views pertaining to Children. While others may
agree, (including myself, in some instances) these values are not applicable
for our society! Indeed, I am not disagreeing with you on a baseline-level. I
am saying that, in order to apply the values of "indifference" to a person
who is not responsible, well, the school would have to exist in a country
which is not a democracy.
       To apply the values of total indifference in Sudbury Valley that you
speak of, well, that would require changing society as a whole. Please do not
misinterpret; I do not necessarily disagree with those required changes, but
it is a separate issue.
       I grant you, it is complicated, and hence it is easy to get tied up in
both issues at the same time. That is something that is crucial to
understand. Do not interpret Sudbury Valley as a societal movement. It is a
place that was created because, along with other reasons pertaining to
children's inherent rights, the founders said "what is the best way to
prepare children to live in a democracy?"
       Sure! Some of them might have had values that postulated: "I don't
think its right to judge. If a kid wants to sit in the Parking Lot all day,
violate rules, even skip school, etc., then what do I care? What do I even
care if he is responsible or not? Who am I to say? Essentially, it is not my
place, because children's rights negate the preparatory measures."
       All well and good, except that it is a societal issue, not an
educational one. As long as we speak in the context of our society, our
country, our government, we look for the best solution. By wary of the
proactive to interweave the arguments of pro/con society, politics, etc.,
into educational philosophy. Yes, personally, I believe that children were
born with inherent rights not to be violated. I also believe that, at least
in this day and age, we need some kind of educational mechanism to prepare
them in some way for the world in which they will enter. That sounds
suspicious, as if preparing mirrored the Public School or Liberal Education's
practice of "hidden" curricula. Crucial to understand, though, is that that
preparation is in essence the freedom they are given, and the democracy in
which they live. No one has hidden agenda. No one forces them to prepare. The
prepare themselves almost subconsciously, because, well, living in a
democratic/respectful/responsible environment, how could they possibly not?

-Travis W.

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