Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] a newcomer wanting to learn

From: Alan Klein <>
Date: Sat Jan 18 13:35:01 2003

Might you mean "Lord of the Flies"?

Anyway, let's go right to basic premises. If you see the word "F**k" or even the word "fuck" as "bad", then you should not have your kids in a democratically run school, Sudbury-model or otherwise. If, on the other hand, you are willing and able to give your kids feedback as to how using such words affects you, and then stand back and be willing to be OK with whatever happens, then such schools might be for you.

I was a teacher at The Highland School, a democratic but not Sudbury-model school for eight years, We had lots of kids who played video games and who built tree forts for a looooong time.

The video games were interesting. The kids, who had all had a few or more years of traditional schooling, began the year playing very competitively. They put each other down when mistakes were made, etc. As the year progressed, it was fascinating to watch them become much more cooperative and supportive.

The tree forts and video games, as well as, perhaps, the junk food, issues all, in part, fall into the "waiting for the other shoe to drop" syndrome. After years of traditional upbringing and/or schooling, even though we tell the kids that they have complete freedom to choose their own activities, they don't completely believe us. They usually go through what can be an extended period of testing the limits of this freedom. I think we adults often make two mistakes in response to this syndrome:

1. We keep on giving off subtle or not so subtle messages that they are making bad choices This only prolongs and deepens the syndrome aspects of the behavior. (Of course there is also the aspect that these behaviors are simply fun!)

2. We ignore them and stifle the impact that the behavior is having on us. In this way we are being dishonest, at least by omission, with them. We usually can't avoid giving away our true feelings non-verbally, and so this also deepens and prolongs the syndrome aspects of the behavior. We might, for example, hear a white kid calling a black kid "nigger". Inwardly (and outwardly but nonverbally) we cringe, but in order not to impose on the kids we say nothing. The kids pick up on this and wonder what else are we being dishonest about.

~Alan Klein
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Joyce Kehoe
  yes, please help me with this too! We have a cooperative preschool, 4 boys ages 4, 2 girls 2 1/2. Mostly it's child-led, lots of play but we do lead some activities, for example, reading poems, then encouraging them to write a line of a poem, then we put it all together. We go for walks in nature, collect things, and make art projects out of them. These aren't necessarily things that they have asked to do, but things that they enjoy. However, we do intervene sometimes if their play becomes aggressive, but are we interfering with their "lord of the rings" growth?

  My sister-in-law had enrolled her child in a sudbury school but found that he did play video games ALLL day, was going to be allowed to go off campus, and at one point, the whole school voted that it would be okay for all of the students to swear, allowing them to use the F**k word and any other term of bad language. That was when she withdrew him from school, but I would like some insight on the above mentioned issues.
Received on Sat Jan 18 2003 - 13:34:24 EST

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