RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model]any chance to speed up the employment process?

From: Joe Jackson <>
Date: Fri Aug 23 17:53:01 2002


> I know that if I were to
> create a school, it would look like SVS but with a slightly
> different focus (less of 'do anything' and more of 'satisfy
> your curiosity'.... more of 'this is how you find what you
> are curious about')

I tend to think of the focus as either wholeheatedly giving the students
the right to self-direct or not. "This is how you find what you are
curious about" happens at Sudbury a thousand times a day, so I am
puzzled that a distinction is being drawn here.

> So I am offended that I need to take more time to 'prove
> myself' right for SVS.

Wow, I'm sure that must be a frustrating feeling.

> It goes against what I think it purposes.

Actually, as frustrating as it is, the fact that one must convince a
school meeting member to enter a motion for such a study to be approved
democratically is, to me, entirely harmonious with the purpose and
practice of the school, which is to protect the school from a minority
imposing its will. The benefits of having you do a study must, in the
mind of the majority, be a pretty sure thing. If you have not been able
to convince a single sm member to sponsor the motion, the only
alternative is to get to know more school meeting members (thus you have
to become part of the culture - see the circle here?) or simply that
your offer, as earnest and purehearted as it is, simply does not seem to
the staff and students of the school to be something they want to do at
this time.

The alternative to this, of course, is an autocracy.

> But I imagine that insiders of SVS think that what I think about SVS
does not really
> matter.

Wow! -I'm certain that that's not true! You must see this as a
professional decision - don't take it personally. I can guarantee that
there are a plethora of dynamics at work here.

> Can SVS improve
> and kick the standardized movement to the curb? I DEFINITELY
> THINK SO. I am biased to think that research can show that
> success is more than just doing well at what you aren't
> interested in in the first place.

I definitely believe that - I know from experience that research can
prove pretty much anything somebody wants it to prove!


> > Because this model is so
> > unusual in most
> > people's experience, so difficult to grasp without prolonged
> > immersion --
> I think that is BS. It isn't difficult to grasp at all.

I think you are saying this is BS to *you*, and I think I believe you.
But the actual experience of people who have opened and operated Sudbury
schools is that the vast majority of people who think they really
understand what the school does, don't. Take the above, for instance.
I see cool things in what you are writing, and then I see you use the
phrase "SVS insiders" above.

"SVS insiders" to me means all of the students and staff at the school;
you as a stranger to the school probably perceive the "insiders" to be
the public conduits to the school, that is, the staff & students who are
elected to handle publicity and public contact. This is represents a
very substantial difference as to how the school is perceived. There
are folks at SVS who have research experience; they as well as you know
the profound impact the researcher's perception at the outset of the
process has on a research product.

But without regard to this, I think one of the points is that if someone
who has not ever founded or worked in or attended a Sudbury school comes
to Fairhaven School out of the blue and asks us to make a substantial
contribution in terms of the (nonexistent) free time and energy of
students and staff (and "spec"ing the investment on a research product
that - *nothing personal as I do not know you or your work* - may or
may not reap positive results for the school), we would likely have a
hard time finding someone to sponsor the motion. I'm not saying it's
impossible to find someone, mind you, just that it's not something that
would, on it's surface, appear to be a wise investment of that very
precious resource.

I hope this makes sense...

> > and because of our insistence that children's learning be
> entirely up
> > to them -- we maintain safeguards to help ensure informed staff
> > selection and student autonomy.
> I think that one can come to the obvious conclusion without a
> lengthy employment process. I just cannot waste my time like that.

I think the fact that you say that lends weight to the probability that
the truth is not as obvious as you might imagine. There are people who
have attended and staffed at these schools for decades who have come to
see the culture of the Sudbury school as a vast tapestry of
interconnected themes; I don't really understand how you can stand on
the doorstep of the school, ring the bell and say that the central
truths of the Sudbury culture are obvious.

Anyways, I don't think the process being suggested is to undergo a
"lengthy employment process", it is simply, if you will, a host county
stipulating that an anthropologist lives in a culture and become (at
least temporarily ) a part of it before signing on to the researcher's
study of the culture.

Some may see the attaining of a depth of experience such as this as a
waste of time; so be it. But those of us who have given years of our
lives to the school (often, as in my case, without realistic pay) are
simply responding to the urgent need for such schools to have committed
people that are willing to "dig in".

-Joe Jackson
Received on Fri Aug 23 2002 - 17:52:42 EDT

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