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

From: Bruce Smith (bsmith@coin.org)
Date: Mon Feb 04 2002 - 11:22:17 EST


On Sun, 3 Feb 2002, Peter Shier wrote:

> The staff serve as role models whether they consciously intend
> to or not. Whatever their behavior may be, it is no different than a
> planned curriculum in a traditional school, it is only administered in a
> different fashion. It still ultimately sends the message to the children
> that is, "this is how functional adults behave in our society".

Sudbury staff do serve as role models of responsible, capable adults; that
is true. However, I take issue with Peter's contention that this is "no
different than a planned curriculum in a traditional school." The whole
point of my previous post in this thread was that the two forms of
adult-student interaction could hardly be more different. Traditional
school curricula are based on and firmly rooted in a compulsory, lockstep
drilling in allegedly relevant facts, superficial academics, and
subservient behaviors. Traditional school staff exercise (however
benevolently or begrudgingly) arbitrary authority in imposing this strict,
regimented curriculum on a frequently unwilling, subject population who
have virtually no say in the matter. The message sent here is rather "it
doesn't really matter what you want to do, and you can't change the
situation; so just be quiet, fall in line, and do what we tell you."

I understand the claim that in both settings adults establish an
environment they believe will allow children to grow into adulthood. But
this comparison only holds at the most superficial level; beyond that,
likening the above dynamic to life at a Sudbury school is ludicrous at
best.

> The agendas I found do not include teaching academic
> subjects

My "agenda" as staff includes responding to student requests for
assistance; this presently has me teaching academic subjects. So it is not
quite accurate to say that Sudbury staff agendas do not include teaching
academics; they rather include the absence of coercion and manipulation of
students into learning them.

Bruce

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