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

From: Scott David Gray <>
Date: Fri Aug 23 17:54:00 2002

On Fri, 23 Aug 2002, Elizabeth Marrin wrote:

> Bruce Smith wrote:
> > I can appreciate the impatience and frustration I sensed in
> > your post. Yet I can also assure you that the nature of
> > Sudbury schools makes a lengthy staff selection process, and
> > limiting the number of people "on the inside," quite
> > necessary. 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. Even
> if you haven't experienced what I experienced, all it takes is a
> moment to open your eyes... to know that all ideas and people
> are worthy and that education right now is really just
> indoctrination into a society that marginalizes those who don't
> have a voice. I know these are strong words I'm speaking, but I
> don't see it any other way.

     Daniel Greenberg recently gave a short lecture, the
title of which eludes me right now, but it was about the
tapestry of ideas (his words) which make up Sudbury Valley's
philosophy. This was a theme that has been talked about a
lot in our school over the past couple years. His claim --
recognized by everyone who knows a Sudbury school -- was
that there are many elements of our school in practice, that
to a person outside of the school appear incongruous.
     Danny argued that in order to understand one of our
schools, you can't just take on ideal (liberty? political
democracy? self-suficiency?) and try to apply it and
understand all aspects of the school in terms of that one
ideal. You can't do that any more than you can understand
the US in terms of one idea.
     Not only do you need to have a picture of all of the
principals underlying a culture to really get a good glimpse
at that culture it, you need to know how that culture views
each of those ideas in relation to its other ideas and
ideals. A person who has read all about France, for
example, can't hope to understand the French character
without living breathing and working there for a while.

     In short, I guarantee that no person who has not spent
time in a Sudbury school can "grasp" the concept of a
Sudbury school. Hell, each year, despite more that 20 years
of involvement with SVS, I learn more about SVS culture. I
think that the same holds true for every staff member or
student in any Sudbury school.

     You wrote elsewhere in your last letter "So I am
offended that I need to take more time to 'prove myself'
right for SVS. It goes against what I think it purposes."
I think that this proves my above point -- you are making
assumptions about our philosophy based upon your spin on
_one_ of our cultural values. Did you consider that we may
have other cultural values than that one, such as
self-determination by the community? Did you stop to
consider that we have our _reasons_ for not maintaining an
open-door policy?
     Why shouldn't you take offense at being asked to
"prove" yourself? Let me give you a hint -- _students_ at
the school are asked to _pay_ for the privilege of
attending, so wouldn't be an insult to them if someone just
because s/he is an "adult" "researcher" is allowed to troop
around the school at no cost to him/herself? But that's
only part of the point. Most adults in our culture are, in
fact, fairly manipulative in their relationships with
children -- and the School Meeting has made it plain that we
must do everything in our power to screen out visitors that
can disrupt the life of the school.

     It should be noted that SVS has allowed researchers to
make observations on campus. However, we can't just stumble
blindly into this. We need to be certain that neither the
researcher nor her/his methodology would be intrusive. We
need to handle research requests in a manner consistent with
our cuture. I'd suggest a long careful read of Patrick
Tierney's book, Darkness in El Dorado, for one example of
how an observer can make life worse for the observed.

--Scott David Gray
reply to:
A "No" uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater
than a "Yes"  merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to
avoid trouble.
-- Mahatma Ghandi
Received on Fri Aug 23 2002 - 17:53:23 EDT

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