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

From: Scott David Gray <>
Date: Tue Nov 26 12:41:01 2002

On Sun, 24 Nov 2002, Jason Jay wrote:

> I'm curious to hear more about technology presence and
> use at the Sudbury Valley School and at Sudbury-inspired
> schools in general. How many computers are present, and
> it what kinds of spaces? Who has responsibility and
> control over software, maintenance, and use of the
> machines? Do kids tend to bring their own computers
> (laptops, palms, gameboys, cell phones) to school?

At Sudbury Valley (a school with about 200 students):

   One stand-along game-PC in one room of the school
(several game machines in there as well), one stand-alone
machine primarily used for word-processing in one room.
One stand-along machine primarily used for word-processing
in another room. One Internet-connected machine with a CD
burner in a fourth room. And six Internet-connected
machines in a fifth room (2 with CD burners). Students at
our school who are certified for the Internet (about 150)
get an email address, web space, anon ftp space, and other
storage space up to 100 megabytes.
   Some kids bring laptops. I think one has a palm. There
are many gameboys around, and probably 100 or so cel phones.

> One thing that caught my attention is that students
> bring software from home. Is there any attempt made to
> curb illegal copying and software piracy? More
> generally, how does the school community deal with
> illegal or questionable online activities like trading
> music, viewing pornography, etc.? Imagine if a student
> used a school computer to run a server for MP3's,
> facilitating illegal music copying. If the machine were
> traced by record companies and law enforcement, the
> school might be held responsible. Do you think the
> school community would pass that responsibility to the
> individual(s) responsible, or would they create a school
> rule against illegal activity?

At Sudbury Valley:

   We have a direct rule against behavior which is outside
of the community norms at school, which has been applied to
viewing pornography. At Sudbury Valley, we have relied on
our broader school rule about community norms rather than
making rules specific to computer use. We do not employ any
sort of restrictive blocking software on our
Internet-connected machines.

   We have a direct rule against using the campus as a base
for _any_ illegal activities. We don't make a separate rule
for each illegal activity, or our lawbook would be the size
of the 32 volume set of Massachusetts laws. I think that
every Sudbury school has a similar or analogous rule.
   The school has been very clear, for each of it's
computers, that no software may be added to the machine
except by the party or parties responsible for the machine
(each machine has a different system administer -- sometimes
a student, sometimes a staff member). The school doesn't
install software, unless the _school_ owns a license for
that software.

   There is a legal question -- which the courts haven't
fully commented on -- with regards to what constitutes "fair
use" of copyrighted material on the net. Because the
statute is not clear we are hesitant to rely on our rule
against illegal activities, and so the school has a rule
that comments specifically on downloaded copyrighted
   "No person may store any copyrighted material on any disk
space at the school, or place such material on any portable
media while at school, except under one of the following
conditions; the person owns the license to copy the
material, all copies are removed/destroyed before the person
logs off, or the material is only a portion, passage, or
fragment of a full work.

> I have to say that I'm so thrilled by what I've read
> about the Sudbury philosophy that I'd like to begin the
> process of trying to join the existing staff of a
> school. Judging from discussions I've seen on the list
> archive, however, it seems that's not a trivial process.
> Like any political position, it appears to require a
> good deal of time commitment and relationship building.
> Does anyone in the Sudbury Valley School have a
> suggestion about how to start?

   Read, read and read some more. There are many nuances to
how Sudbury schools feel and operate, which take a great
deal of reflection to understand -- grounding yourself in
the written material helps immensely. Think seriously about
what involvement / role you would want at a Sudbury school.
Write to the school, describing your interests, and seeking
advice about where to go from there.

> Cheers,
> Jason

--Scott David Gray
reply to:
I don't have any solution, but I certainly admire the
-- Oscar Wilde
Received on Tue Nov 26 2002 - 12:40:42 EST

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