Re: DSM: Is Sudbury too democratic?

From: Mike Sadofsky (sadofsky@mediaone.net)
Date: Fri Feb 01 2002 - 16:40:17 EST


An interesting post, Peter.
And I am looking for a way to appropriately respond.

Yes, there is no one *captain of the ship* at SVS, but there are
mechanisms for decision making. And because of the structure of the
school, those who want to participate in that process can do so.
So what people learn is that decisions are made and members of the
community are expected to live with those decisions or convince the
majority to change them. Perhaps when the *captaincy* is vested in
the community, there is less tendency to blame others.

In any event, the decision process doesn't appear to me to be
particularly different from my experiences in the corporate world.
The factors that go into strategic decision making may be different,
and everyone may not understand all those factors, but, as you wrote,
your managers look for your input. Your personal scope of input may
be constrained by the autocracy (your job definition), but there are
others providing comparable input in there areas of expertise.

A comment that I often make in discussion with others about SVS is
that former SVS students often tell me about their surprise and
amazement when they first meet young people at work or at school who
grew up in environments where there was a *captain of the ship.* They
find that these people don't know how to take responsibility for
themselves. They don't take pride in doing a job well. They don't
know how to manage their time. They don't know how to learn material
or prepare for an exam on it. They need to learn all of these things
and more in the *real world.*
 
In the many years since I first entered the corporate world, I've seen
and experienced a major relaxation of autocratic decision making. A
couple of titles that describe democratization of decision making in
the corporate world include:
Maverick : The Success Story Behind the World's Most Unusual Workplace
by Ricardo Semler (Semler describes converting an autocratic company
to an employee own and democratically run organization -- this is a
harvard Business School studied operation. Semler has explored SVS
and is involved in the establishment of a sudbury model school in his
native brazil) and
Birth of the Chaordic Age, by Dee Hock (the Visa story) in which he
describes the process of getting the worldwide banking industry to
come together in the give and take necessary to make VISA a reality.
http://www.chaordic.org/index.html is a link to an organization he has
established to promote these ideas in other organizations.

In the last few days I read another article on this very subject,
democratization of the work place, by an academic from, I think, a
major business school. I can't locate the URL at the moment, but if I
find it, I'll pass it on.

Mike

On Fri, 1 Feb 2002 11:20:28 -0800, "Peter Shier"
<pshier@mindspring.com> wrote:

>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
>ship".
>
>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.
>
>Peter
>
>
>-----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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