Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Several Questions Regarding Sudbury Model Schools

From: Carol Hughes <>
Date: Sun Feb 16 08:26:00 2003

Hi Rich,
Underlying your question it seems to me is the issue of power and control.
If a staff member "admonishes" a student, or yells, then what affect does
that have on the student's psyche? First of all I have noticed that
sometimes an issue won't go away for me because in truth it is about my own
experience not my child's. I'm beginning to wonder what your experience is
with yelling in your home of origin. Families have a certain volume and a
whole raft of unspoken rules about how behavior is accepted or not. My
memory of the halls of SVS are that often the volume is quite loud and one
would need to yell in order to be heard sometimes. My point being that
yelling is not quite so extraordinary since it is ongoing in this crowd of
children to be talking and mixing it up together every minute they are
there. My family of origin had a nice waspy exterior and no one ever raised
their voice in public. Our conversational volume was controlled most of the
time and loud outbursts were usually hellish experiences. To this day I
freeze if someone starts to get angry. How different it would have been for
me if I could have brought my parents up and had them sentenced by my peers
as in JC. What a delicious thought. I too have tried always to treat my
children as I would like to be treated. It's a pet pieve of mine when
people say to children "Now thank Mrs. Hughes, Johnny.". I have always just
said thank you myself when it was appropriate and my children quite
naturally picked up the habit.

If you are wondering if that is all there is to it when a child mentions
such an incident, no that is not all there is to it. What I see is that
they are talking about it because they learned something and want to
remember what they thought and did around the experience. I still remember
a public school teacher pinning a small student to the wall physically when
I was about nine years old. I don't normally like to bring it up. Don't
like to talk about it. Nothing ever came of it after that. The boy was not
aggressive, he was an "A" student, and simply pressed this jerk's button at
the wrong moment as far as I could tell. I find myself wishing you could
hear these stories from the lips of the students. I'll bet they would be
smiling and sort of proud of the tale and how they handled it. There is an
on-going community at SVS that is very hard to describe adequately. As I
piece together many years of conversations with my children about their
experiences, it begins to unfold for me into a fabric of responsibility that
they feel for their own well being.

In short, Rich, a child is wonderfully protected by the integrity with which
they are treated at SVS. My mind has been boggled by the the staff's
patience and strength, and ability to give children all kinds of slack as
they learn to take responsibility for their own lives.

"Ordering someone around" simply does not happen at SVS. There is a
collective, a group mindset that is ever present. In fact, were it to
occur, I can easily imagine hours and hours of discussion in school meeting,
such would be the non-acceptance of this.

Hope I've addressed this issue for you some. One last thought. SVS is not
an easy school. It is very very hard to exist in freedom to be yourself.
It creates strong, focused students who can deal with what happens to them
from their own power.

Thanks for your keen interest,
Carol Hughes
Received on Sun Feb 16 2003 - 08:25:02 EST

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