DSM: Is Sudbury too democratic?

From: Peter Shier (pshier@mindspring.com)
Date: Fri Feb 01 2002 - 14:20:28 EST

I completely agree with you Bruce (on all of your points from the
'purpose' thread) but you bring up another interesting aspect of the
Sudbury model which I have been thinking about quite a bit lately:

"the hidden agenda of traditional schools, that order -- maintaining the
peace and finding one's rank in an authoritarian hierarchy -- is the
ultimate goal".

I recently spoke at length to Jane Turnbull who is the owner and head of
the North Creek School in Bothell, WA (in suburban Seattle). She has a
very interesting and unique educational philosophy (not Sudbury) and one
thing she said really intrigued me: "There has to be a captain of the

Bruce's term 'authoritarian hierarchy' is something I have been looking
at in our society in relation to the Sudbury model where there is little
of that. (Notice I did not say 'none'. This is because of things like
Sudbury corporations that do have certain authority).

If I look at my job as a computer programmer working for a large
software company, there is no democracy there. While my superiors do
listen to my opinion, they ultimately make the decisions on their own.
One of the reasons I like my company is because I can have a lot of
input, but it is definitely not a democracy. It is, as Bruce states, an
'authoritarian hierarchy'. A self-employed person is also subject to the
authority of their customers. Even in the allegedly democratic society
of the Unites States, there is still an authoritarian hierarchy within
all levels of government.

My question is: while I love the Sudbury model, does it really model any
social framework that children will live within as adults?

One may argue that democracy allows for the choice of authority. That is
true, but once we choose it, we agree to live within its boundaries. The
same can be said for choosing an educational model or a place of
employment. Ultimately as adults, we decide which authorities we will
agree to obey but they are authorities nevertheless. So, is Sudbury
realistic if it does not model this fundamental aspect of our society?
Whatever ship you choose to sail in there will be a captain but in the
Sudbury model there are no captains.


-----Original Message-----
From: Bruce Smith
Sent: Friday, February 01, 2002 5:53 AM
To: discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org
Subject: RE: DSM: "The purpose for which [Sudbury] is formed ..."

In traditional schools, the promise is that in exchange for following
orders, students will acquire all the facts and skills needed for a
successful adult life. In my opinion, this is a lie, compounded by the
hidden agenda of traditional schools, that order -- maintaining the
peace and finding one's rank in an authoritarian hierarchy -- is the
ultimate goal. Traditional schools claim to mold well-rounded learners,
whereas in fact they force young people to fit a narrow range of
pre-approved molds.


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