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

From: Joe Jackson <>
Date: Wed Feb 26 23:40:00 2003


In order to measure a culture, you first have to agree what it is. I
don't think that will happen.

Second, even if we were all to agree what specific factors make up the
parts of a culture, say self-responsibility, integrity, collegiality,
etc, how could anyone agree what behaviors or outcomes or combination of
behaviors and outcomes could be an adequate measure of each theme?

The culture is such an overwhelmingly complex tapestry of themes, I just
don't see a way of parsing the millions of micro-parts in a manner which
resembles good science.


It is impossible to isolate parts of the culture in a way that would
give someone a chance to directly measure this or that because when you
break it up it is no longer what it was.

Say let's do a study to see if J.C. in Sudbury Schools teaches students
to take responsibility for their actions and resolve conflicts
themselves better than the Dean in the local High School does.

So you isolate on the behaviors that demonstrate increased
self-responsibility or an increased desire or ability to resolve
disputes. But is JC causing the behavior to change? Or is being in a
mixed-age environment causing it? If JC is causing the change in
behavior, is it caused by the student being a defendant, plaintiff, or
is it caused by the fact that the student was a member of JC and started
feeling ownership of the school. Or just having the epiphany where s/he
knows s/he owns the school? Or is it caused by the fact that s/he
initiated legislation in School Meeting? Peer pressure?

It's hopeless, because the culture is a tapestry, and you can't just
take the test subjects and put them in a clinic for two years doing
nothing but interacting and going to JC, because then it's not a Sudbury

And finally:

The presence of a count or a measure, in cultural matters that are so
central to the model, impacts the culture and confounds the count or

If someone is observing or counting behaviors that person becomes part
of the culture, and they are affecting the culture.

In my opinion, the only scientifically solid measures of the school
culture are the case studies, that is, the stories of what happens in
the books from the staff, students and grads. You can compile
statistics of what grads do.

But then you have the chemical-tipped bomb that blows it all away:
Sudbury families are self-selecting. We just introduced the ultimate in
statistical confounding. End of story. Do not pass go, do not collect
research grant.

Joe Jackson

> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> [] On Behalf Of sambo01
> Sent: Wednesday, February 26, 2003 10:29 PM
> To:
> Subject: RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] sudbury/summerhill
> Joe wrote...
> >No - sorry. Can't measure a culture.
> Joe,
> I am curious why you believe that. I know why it is
> difficult, and why it should not be done. Can't is so
> positivly certain, that I am interested in your reasoning.
> -Sam in SacValley
> _______________________________________________
> Discuss-sudbury-model mailing list
>> cuss-sudbury-model
Received on Wed Feb 26 2003 - 23:39:36 EST

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