Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Introduction, Technology at Sudbury

From: <jason_at_jasonjay.com>
Date: Mon Nov 25 18:16:01 2002

I love your point about the presence of younger children and its effect on
teenagers' behavior. I actually wasn't assuming that teens would abuse
their extra freedom, and I certainly wouldn't want to impose rules and
regulations on them pre-emptively. That kind of fear and mistrust has
gone quite far enough in American society.

My question was more about the legal process in the Sudbury schools and
the relationship between the school's rules and wider society's laws. In
most cases, an incident within the school walls, even if it violated a
local/state/federal law, could be handled by the school's own legal
procedure. This phenomenon is common among boarding schools and colleges,
for example in drug possession cases. The Internet, however, is a place
where the traditional walls of the school are transcended, so that an
action within the physical walls of the school also happens in a broader
interpersonal and legal landscape. If software or music piracy occurred
on a school computer, I'm just wondering who gets held accountable, and by
what legal system.

This may sound very abstract, but as shared virtual environments and chat
spaces become more heavily used and populated (along with email and
personal web pages), more and more situations will arise where kids in a
school end up "speaking for" their school simply because they are using
the school's Internet connection. When that happens, a strict reliance on
a doctrine of individual responsibility might break down a bit. I'm not
saying that students shouldn't be treated as adults, but it should be
acknowledged that they are part of a community of adults that might be
affected by the individual's actions. This goes beyond black and white
rules (e.g., no lying about your age) to a more nebulous conception of
what it means to represent your community on the net. I'm just trying to
understand how that sense of what is "acceptable behavior on the net" gets
negotiated in the schools.

Does this make sense?

-Jason

> Hi Jason,
> I ditto Joe's reply. None of our donated computers have CD burners. The
> computers are in a room that's not strictly a computer room so their
> isn't a lot of privacy. These schools go from age 41/2 on up. I have
> noticed the teens try to curb their swearing when the younger students
> are around even though there is no rule against swearing. I can't
> imagine they would want to expose them to pornography.
> In some ways, I think your question is "Doesn't all this freedom have a
> down side? Won't adolescents abuse it?"
> I think the opposite is true. I think our students are probably as
> interested in sex as any students anywhere. However, they are allowed to
> explore what ever interests them at the school. I think they would
> rather spend time doing things that could include their friends and
> where they don't have to feel awkward if a five year old walks in. I
> think that very freedom seems to result in students exploring there
> sexual interests in their time away from school.
> I'm sure I've said this before on this list but this school is about
> raising adults not children. I don't want anyone worrying about how I
> spend my unscheduled time. I survived all my adolescent explorations
> intact. In California we have raised the age of getting of drivers
> license from 16 to 18. We've had to pass anti drinking ordinances at
> colleges. We all know what highschools have done since Columbine. It
> seems the larger traditionally schooled population is having some
> difficulty understanding how to be responsible citizens. So instead of
> exploring why this is, we curtail more freedoms.
> Evelyn
> Diablo Valley School Parent
Received on Mon Nov 25 2002 - 18:15:40 EST

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