RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] sudbury/summerhill

From: Scott David Gray <>
Date: Wed Feb 26 12:20:00 2003

On Tue, 25 Feb 2003, Hector Ortega wrote:
> I wanted to ask if SVS graduates and their careers
> have been followed as a way to further demonstrate the
> effectiveness of the school. When I talk to people
> about Summerhill, Sudbury schools and unschooled
> students I'm often asked if I know how these students
> fare in their adult lives. When i say that i feel
> confident that they do just fine, most people, still
> skeptical, ask me how i can be sure that the vast
> majority of them lead happy and productive lives.
> It sounds like Legacy of Trust would help answer that
> question.

Legacy of Trust is a good place to start. There are other
studies as well; look up the names Peter Gray, David
Chanoff, and Jay Feldman. Also, check what alumni say in
their own words, in Kingdom of Childhood. Finally, the SVS
press is presently preparing a very thorough study of

> the other concern is, how do we know that a school
> like SVS could work for most kids, the poor, those who
> live with abusive parents, etc. the feeling is that
> these kids might never become self-motivated enough to
> even learn the Basics. In essence, if the entire
> public school system were reformed, could the Sudbury
> philosophy provide a better model for inner-city
> schools, better than any model which fails to do away
> with compulsory education, like the one described by
> William Glasser in Schools without Failures (credit/no
> credit grading system, no homework, somewhat
> democratic, discussion meetings guiding by teacher,
> etc.).

Three responses:

1: Many alumni of Sudbury Valley and other Sudbury schools
have been economically deprived -- at least insofar as
qualifying for aid to families with dependent children and
other programs. Speaking anecdotally, I see no sign that
they are less able to use freedom than the economically well

2: Good science assumes that, until you have evidence that
two groups will react differently to the same stimulus, the
two groups will likely react the same. As a result,
medicines are given accross ethnic and gender categories
even when they have only been tested on one sub-population.

3: There is an assumption behind that question when posed by
many educationists, which contradicts the basic assumption I
propose above in point two. The assumption of the
educationists (inherited from Horace Mann who designed his
schools and truancy laws in _order_ to reform the inner-city
Irish) is that people who are economically poorly off are
somehow less intelligent and/or less capable of taking
responsibility for themselves. I find this assumption to be
unreasonable on its face. It seems that that 'inner city'
kids are victimized by this prevelent attitude -- and that
the attitude implicit in this question makes the traditional
schools treat inner city kids as _less_ human. Perhaps,
children whose public-school alternative is one that holds
them in contempt would be even _better_ served by being made
free than the kids who are treated as little princes and
princesses in high-end schools. Maybe not -- I have no
proof -- but my gut says that dignity is the right answer in
inner city education just as it's the right answer

> Hector

--Scott David Gray
reply to:
Most Americans would rather be liked than right. 
-- Fred Waldo Demara
Received on Wed Feb 26 2003 - 12:17:32 EST

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