Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Is this correct?

From: Carol Hughes <carolhughes1_at_earthlink.net>
Date: Sun May 11 09:13:01 2003

"more easily avoid the risk of creating the large numbers of alienated and apathetic, or hostile and vengeful young people associated with large schools."

Hi David,
How incredibly simplistic and ridiculous this idea is. I am so weary of the educational aristrocracy's inability to speak intelligently to all the adjectives above mentioned. While it is somewhat encouraging that the words "avoid the risk of creating" are implying some willingness to take responsibility for the obnoxious results the current school system is now getting, how silly to decide that the numbers of students will somehow magically change the dynamic.

I have personally experienced some great teaching and studying at so large a school as Boston University. However, when it gets right down to it a good learning experience is always somehow an intimate setting of a few people. A much smaller school of U Mass Lowell which had a curriculum with a good reputation for putting out good music teachers, was a dreadful education, very very disappointing. I dropped out after one year. The curriculum was ironically keeping me busy with mandated dry courses that would not in any way contribute to my ability to teach music. There was no time in my schedule left to play the piano which is my instrument.

Large schools can and do have more money oftentimes and can therefore offer wonderful opportunities. I have seen good and bad in large and small schools. So?

It is, in my opinion, the fundamental belief that children are empty vessels into which one must pour certain information in a particular way in order for them to turn out functional and succesful human beings that is the problem. It never ceases to amaze me that educators and parents who spend any amount of time with children can stick with this premis.

Democracy is a natural desire in people. Everyone wants a voice, knowledge, their own power, a place in society that has meaning. This is so of a large or small group of people. And you can bet that if you put people together on a regular basis, they will move heaven and earth to "get their way", because that it what we do. Large groups naturally break themselves up into small groups. Frankly, it's not even optional.

The information is there, the students are there, the truth is there. We must as a society stop looking to fear of something for a motivating factor in how the schools will be governed or organized. What I value most about a Sudbury Valley School is good old fashioned guts. Every day is an unknown. Sometimes that is wonderful, sometimes it's very tough. But, oh, is it real and powerful.

School is mandatory. Large numbers of students exist. Budgets and buildings and teacher's unions are the main focus in the American Public School system. It is a great tragedy that children are not being celebrated, encouraged, nurtured in their learning process. I sometimes can't bear the tension I see in my six year old piano students. They are totalling freaked out and worried about making a mistake, about getting approval, about what I might say and do. I recently told a six year old that if he didn't like a piece in his lesson book, then he could just skip it. There's lots of other music he could play. He looked at me incredulous, "Are you sure?". Yes, I'm sure, but his question breaks my heart.

Size of classroom, size of school, give me a break. Children can only be taught self-respect while being treated with respect. I had straight "A's" and an F in conduct on my first grade report card. The teacher even yellow marked the F. Guess I ticked her off. I used to finish my work quickly (those darn Dick and Jane books) and all I was given to do was crayons to color the books. I would cover every inch of the page with color. That teacher was a dictator. It was a very small school. No democracy there. But still, I never stopped wanting it.

Okay, so I've rambled a bit. You asked, I reasoned.
Carol
Received on Sun May 11 2003 - 09:12:48 EDT

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