DSM: The heart of the issue....

From: BBWIA13@aol.com
Date: Sat Feb 02 2002 - 14:08:10 EST


Ardeshir,
    I read your previous e-mail with great interest. I gave it a lot of
thought. And something came to me then, a theory that I have decided to hold
fast upon. I believe that it explains why we disagree about this issue.
    You highlight, time and again, "education" and "freedom." You explain how
they are separate. All well and good. In fact, I would say that under a
specific context, the arguments make some sense and are intriguing. However,
the problem here is not that you and I disagree, it is that we are quite
literally speaking of two entirely separate subjects.
    I sent an e-mail a few days back. I think it at least creates a base for
what I am trying to convey to you now.
    Namely, the reason Sudbury Valley is an educational institution is
because its goal is to prepare its members for a responsible life in the
outside community. We have now, however, reached the core of the issue, and I
would ask you to read carefully in order to avoid inefficient
misinterpretation later on. Here is the main point.
    When I make a statement like "The goal of Sudbury Valley is to prepare
its members for a life of productivity and responsibility in the community at
large," as I have in the past, you give a certain reaction to this statement.
Your reaction is perfectly understandable. You say time and again (I will not
quote: correct me if I am wrong, but I think I have a good idea what you are
trying to say) that they are not compatible, namely, that you are not really
giving freedom if you have an educational agenda.
    And yet, when you say these things, you must realize that you are inches
away from my position on the matter!
    Ardeshir, my next statement quite possibly sums up my entire position on
the matter. You make the following statement:

"Sudbury has merely been masquerading as a free school rather than actually
being one."

    Here is the crux. If such a place existed, a "free" school, if you will,
with no goals to educate, only a philosophy that postulated giving total
freedom to its members, then BY DEFINITION, IT WOULDN'T BE A SCHOOL!
    And, indeed, you as a proponent of such a place must realize that this
situation is only applicable when children do not live in a democracy such as
ours. Don't you see? When I say that Sudbury has goals, you constantly
misinterpret it as me saying "hidden agenda."
    No! The pieces fit in a different order, Ardeshir. The act of giving
total freedom to students at Sudbury Valley is also, by definition, a type of
education! I also feel, on a side note, that we wouldn't need to spend so
much time on semantics if we both spent time analyzing the dictionary
definitions of both "education" and "school." I think you will find that they
are open to a broad range of interpretation, and fit quite nicely with my
arguments.
     Sudbury Valley does, in fact, postulate giving total freedom. But just
because the founders believe that by giving freedom, you are educating, does
not mean that this is freedom with a catch!
    We do not live on mars! We have values, and some are black and white, but
not all are! If you propose a Sudbury-like-school in which, and this is my
only qualm, there would be no differentiation between a student who brakes
rules (in terms of graduating), and a student who has exorcised his
responsibility (another key point, Ardeshir. There have been previous
misinterpretations by yourself on this issue in the past. I am not saying the
student is expected to DO anything! I am simply saying that he is a student
who showed he was responsible by not abusing the system, for the clearest
example), then it simply is not the same thing, not in the same ballpark, as
what I am talking about!
     You must understand that Sudbury Valley is an educational institution
that postulates the application of freedom in order to educate. NOT, as you
have misinterpreted in the past, a kind of "We will give you freedom, but do
this, or act this way," type of school. In fact, the idea is that by the very
application of freedom you are educating!
    So, even if you disagree about the goals of a school, Ardeshir, I remain
adamant about the following: if you, Ardeshir, were applying total freedom in
any situation you would not be able to escape the fact that you were educating
! I stress the dictionary definition instead of taking the word, as you
apparently have done, and seeing it as entailing all the traditional
education methods this society has adopted! Look outside it!
     "Education" does not necessarily entail the application of knowledge or
"hidden agenda," or preparation or curriculum, but rather an activity one
could do on ones own, by ones own initiative! I am being educated if I live
in a democracy! The word is not exclusively related to traditional schooling!
    If I give you freedom, you are being "educated," in so many different
ways. There is no getting around that.
    This is the crux, Ardeshir. I hope you see what I am driving at.

-Travis W.

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