Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Morals and Manners

From: Bruce Smith <>
Date: Mon Mar 17 12:00:00 2003

Heidi, this is Bruce at Alpine Valley School.

>1: We talked extensively about TV and computer games for kids. Do a lot of
>adults spend time at these activities? Do the adults who DO spend time in
>front of the screen, spend a LOT of time there?

We don't have a school television. Personal TVs are brought in for watching
the occasional movie, and of course are present on a daily basis for
playing video games. The only adult I can think of who's watched movies at
school has been the staff member whose psychology class watches mainstream
movies and then analyzes the psychological issues they present. Typically
there's too much going on for us to devote a full two hours or more to
watching a movie (not that we couldn't do it, or watch part of a movie, or
whatever; there's always an exception to the rule -- it's just not likely).

Likewise, I can't think of an adult who spends significant time watching
video games at school. I spend a little time most days hanging out in the
gaming room, because I'm curious: I like to observe what's a major activity
for many students, and my own video-game-playing days aren't buried under
too many layers of subsequent history. But my time in that room is mostly
in passing, in between spells of office work or teaching. I find what I see
in there very fascinating -- for short intervals. Then I lose interest,
remember all the other things I have to do, and move on. My curiosity and
time aren't sufficient at this point for me to get into playing the games
personally (clearly, I'm getting old :), though I know students would
welcome the opportunity to kick my virtual butt all over the screen.

>2: Morals and manners. Is this kind of thing corrected by the Judicial
>System? Do kids act pretty well, with a rigorous Law in effect, knowing
>what the rules are, and with a consistent consequence for breaking the rules?

I'm not sure what you mean by "corrected". Gaming is regulated, yes, but
then, every activity at school is, in a sense: when people are loud or
disrespectful, for example, they can be written up regardless of what the
loud/disrespectful person was doing. If the incident involved gaming in
some way, then the guilty party might be sentenced to some kind of gaming
restriction, or a limitation on their contact with the person whose rights
they violated.

I think for the most part the students who play games "act pretty well."
Noise and competitiveness are hardly uncommon in that room, but no more so,
I think, than is the case with any popular and intense activity. For what
it's worth, I reviewed JC records recently, and I didn't find that gaming
(or gamers) has produced a disproportionate number of cases. For the most
part, the culture of our school is healthy enough that people seem to work
out most issues on their own, most of the time (knock on wood... :).

“I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it’s much
more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be
wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different
degrees of certainty about different things, but I’m not absolutely sure of
anything and there are many things I don’t know anything about, such as
whether it means anything to ask why we’re here…I don’t feel frightened by
not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without any
purpose, which is the way it really is as far as I can tell.”

                         -- Richard Feynman
Received on Mon Mar 17 2003 - 11:59:15 EST

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