[Discuss-sudbury-model] Re: Questions about their Future

From: Liz Godwin <ehgodwin_at_mindspring.com>
Date: Mon Feb 24 18:08:00 2003

I get the digest so I thought I'd save bandwidth and reply to a few
messages at once as they're all on the same topic. Hope no one minds.

First message:

>Message: 4
>From: "Joe Jackson" <shoeless_at_jazztbone.com>
>To: <discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org>
>Subject: RE: RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Questions about Their Future
>Date: Sun, 23 Feb 2003 20:44:55 -0500
>Reply-To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
> > algebra is
> > also a prerequisite for realizing that you want to know more
> > about calculus and physics. I was good at math, but had to be
> > forced to learn it, up until this year when I started
> > calculus. I find the applications of derivatives very
> > beautiful, but no one could have explained this beauty to me
> > before I knew algebra; I wouldn't have understood it. So I
> > would not have learned algebra by myself, and would have
> > missed out on calculus.
> >
> > Could this be used as an excuse to extend core curriculum
> > indefinitely? Perhaps. But I think algebra is necessary for
> > the appreciation of a sufficient number of fields that it may
> > just make sense as a requirement for college. I don't like
> > the idea of forcing people to learn even this, but it seems
> > inescapable. Thoughts?
>My thoughts? Based on my life,
>- Having to do physical labor for a paycheck at least once in life is a
>precious opportunity.

I respectfully disagree. I believe that _choosing_ to do physical labor
for a paycheck at least once in life is a precious opportunity and one of
which I have availed myself more than once. I am one of those who LOVES
manual labor - I get such satisfaction from working with my hands,
particularly outdoors. (This still distresses my mom to some extent, who
probably wakes up at night in a cold sweat worried that I will flee the
white-collar world to do trail maintenance for a living!) However, I think
that _having_ to do physical labor, because that is one's only option due
to lack of education (or lack of "education" as defined by paperwork), is
no less damaging than _having_ to study algebra or social studies because
that is one's only option within the system.

>- A person has not truly arrived at adulthood until they have had

Again I disagree. Yes, I am a young pup, and I do not (plan to) have
children, and I acknowledge that having children probably reduces the
self-centeredness quotient of an individual a great deal. Yet I believe
that one can choose not to reproduce and still "truly arrive at adulthood"
if only by virtue of having recognized _ahead of time_, as I see so few
people doing nowadays, the awesome responsibility that it is to become the
caretaker of a human soul. Far better to not breed than to do so because
one is lonely, or wants to follow the herd, or is trying to keep a man, or
any other BAD reason that people have kids. Of course, I acknowledge that
I may be making this argument in part because, if you are correct, I am
doomed to a life of "not-really-an-adulthood" by virtue of my choice not to
reproduce. :D But mostly it's because in my line of work I get to
encounter all manner of mediocre to shitty parents, and in my opinion,
parenting is not something you should do unless you do it well.
Second message:

>Message: 8
>From: "Alan Klein" <alan_at_klein.net>
>To: <discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org>
>Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Questions about Their Future
>Date: Sun, 23 Feb 2003 23:41:22 -0500
>Reply-To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Michael Kinnucan" <Michael_Kinnucan_at_buacademy.org>
> > This seems to me to be a problem. I know as well as anyone the evils of
> > forcing students to learn things, but at the same time I recognize that
> > there are cases in which forced curriculum, though harmful in the short
> > term, is to the student's advantage in the longterm. Is this not in fact
> > the case?
>Although it may be true that one can derive enjoyment in the future from
>something one was forced to "learn" in the past, there are severe costs
>which make the deal decidedly NOT worthwhile. The process is way less
>efficient when one is being forced to "learn". There are probably many other
>things one could attend to in the place of what was forced down one's throat
>that would givem in all likelihood, equal or greater enjoyment.

Perhaps this is just the result of my having been brainwashed by this
culture with its Puritan roots, but isn't there something to be said for
learning the ability to put one's nose to the grindstone and "just do it"
even if one does not enjoy it? Don't we run the risk of rearing a bunch of
hedonists here? "Well, I don't enjoy brushing my teeth, so I won't." "OK,
Johnny, you don't have to." etc. etc. Toilet training? Table
manners? Isn't there _something_ that we can concede is OK to make kids
learn? I'm not being argumentative - I'm trying to wrap my brain around
where a philosophy of non-coercion (good for the spirit) can meet a
philosophy of making sure the child has learned how to function as a social
creature, who can't be pooping in their pants and flinging food across a
table and biting people when they aren't having fun (good for the rest of
society and also good for the spirit). Or are we confining the discussion
to academics only and leaving social- and health-related skills aside?

>Only you can say for yourself. I would say, however, that no one has the
>right to impose such a gamble upon another. In this case your parents'
>dictatorial gamble may have paid off, at least in your own calculations. It
>was not, however, their place to gamble with your life.

They are the _parents_. Of course it's their place to "gamble with the
child's life" to some extent. That's why I respect (and am petrified of,
to some extent) parenting so much - every moment is a gamble if you reduce
it enough. "How do I handle the fact that little Jane just smacked her
baby sister? Do I yell at her? Smack her in return? Remove her to
'time-out?' Talk to her about how that isn't nice? Tell her Mommy is very
mad? Take away her toy? Tell her to wait until her dad gets home?" "Do I
home-school? Sudbury school? Waldorf school? Public school? Fancy
private school?" "Do I allow little Jimmy to wear dresses and makeup
because that's what he likes, allowing his gender expression but
potentially exposing him to social ridicule, or do I make him stop,
reinforcing ridiculous social "norms" about boys and girls but saving him
from cruelty at the hands of that society?" It seems like child-rearing is
a dance between trying to make the world a better place and also equipping
your child for the fact that it's not perfect yet. I can't fathom how
agonizing it must be. But to say that the parents shouldn't make decisions
about a child's life ignores the fact that, while the child DOES have a
will and an ability to judge, it is a _developing_ one, and needs guidance
and sometimes even some not-so-gentle steering. Just my $.02.

One last thought I had about the exchange between Michael and some other
writers: it struck me that perhaps what Michael was getting at was not so
much that Sudbury-style graduates would NEVER meet calculus (to borrow his
example) as that they would meet it so LATE compared to others. They would
be "behind the curve." And at first I thought how horrible a handicap that
would be. The curriculum forced on me in H.S. enabled me to enter college
and go straight into upper-level courses in my major. That opened up the
possibility of double-or triple-majoring had I chosen that path (as it was,
I also discovered aviation and chose to "double-major" in piloting
airplanes and "triple-major" in skydiving :). However, I was on the "fast
track," and there can be some value in that if one is driven to get
somewhere fast or for less money (i.e. trying to knock off some of med
school while an undergrad). But it's also made me reexamine the idea that
one has to be on the "fast track" in the first place. I wish I had taken
more "101-style" courses in my freshman year of college and gotten to
"meet" more fields of study. My college offered the uniquely democratic
lack of a core curriculum - we were free to take what we wanted. I don't
like what I did with that choice. I beelined for science and math and
neglected many other areas, one of which is now a major area of interest
and I know next to nothing of the basics. :( I have often wondered if a
core curriculum would be better. But then again, why force others to
endure that just because some, like me, will choose poorly? (And then,
who's to say I didn't choose exactly what was needed at the time?....but I

Received on Mon Feb 24 2003 - 18:07:46 EST

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