Re: DSM: "The purpose for which [Sudbury] is formed ..."

Date: Sun Feb 03 2002 - 02:34:20 EST

Dear Scott,

Thank you. You wrote:

<< Do Sudbury model schools exist in order to help people
 develop in an environment of trust and caring, or do they
 exist in order to establish freedom?
   Both of these groups are pluralistic. Both sets of goals
 are held. Neither goal trumps the other >>

With the help of the above I can now see my take on this as clearly as I have
ever seen it. I take the above to mean that you see both 'education' and
'freedom' as part of Sudbury and that neither is generally more or less
significant than the other. Feeling so, I can understand that this
conversation would seem like 'splitting hairs' or the angels on the head of a
pin thing.

But clearly Ardishir and myself feel differently. While 'freedom' may not
'trump' 'education', for me, it easily swamps it. 'Freedom' is simply a
profound idea, compared to any of the notions of 'education' that I am aware
of. (And remember, for definitions of freedom and respect, I am simply using
what Sudbury offers the children).

Now I must apologize and I do directly to Hanna and Mimsy for using their
formulations, but it is their formulations that make this thing crystal clear
for me.

First Hanna says: "we trust the children and they do the rest".
Notice how much more profound this is than the more usually heard statement,
such as, "we trust the children to learn the things they will need to get
along in the world", which basically says we trust the children to do the
educuation thing. But that's not what Hanna says. She says "we trust the
children and they do the rest". She doesn't even characterize what the rest
is. This to me is huge. She even declines to characterize the social and
cultural productions of free children. And this is exactly what I have been
trying to say. Free children even own the characterizations of what they do.
And when she declines to even characterize this rest, her statement is as
straight forward as: "we trust the children". This is just so direct and bold
and deep as to be immediately and extremely useful to the child.

And then Mimsy says: "just as far as is possible, we let the children be
themselves". Now the "just as far as is possible" part gives due notice and
consideration to following and abiding by the norms of the community. But
given that, the next part is simply stunning. "Be yourself". Notice that
again there are no add ons or any condition set attached. To me again the
statement is just huge. It is thunderous. To me it is the statement of
Sudbury itself. And Sudbury's statement to the child is not that you are
going to be somebody, it is the statement that you are somebody.

Taken together, these two formulations, are convincing to me that what is
going on at the core level of Sudbury is a deep and rich offering of
acceptanace. Such an offering is so useful to the child, that when they fully
grasp the situation, they can immediately begin their own long and deep work.
They will construct their very lives. Certainly in the work that lies ahead
for them, they will educate themselves as they see fit, and learn lots of
things; but to me that is such a small notion, compared to where they will go
and what they will do and who they are.

Warm Regards,
Bill Richardson


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