RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] TCS (was New to Sudbury-Cottage Grove, OR

From: Joe Jackson <>
Date: Fri May 30 03:00:00 2003

Leslie, thanks for posting. You sound like a non-nut!

Much of what you are saying resonates strongly with what many feel is
offered by the Sudbury environment, and this is what originally
attracted me to the TCS philosophy.

I am certain that TCS is challenged often by people positing the
worst-case scenario, just as we at Sudbury schools are. I found it
disappointing, however, that many of those on the TCS list (at that
time) were either unable or unwilling to see the line between allowing
children to make mistakes that they can learn from, and allowing
children to indulge themselves in activities that hugely impact the
lives of others.

For example, you mention that you would find it ironic if a parent chose
to send their child to SVS when the child wanted homeschooling. Of
course, there are a hundred reasons why a parent might not want to home
school, and to automatically assume that by not giving in and
homeschooling that the parent is not giving real weight to the desire of
the child is a leap. There are many reverbations and variables to the
equation that impact more people than just the child.

The other example is the ridiculous advice the mother was getting in the
example I used: while the philosophy that the child would only be
hurting himself by engaging in sexual activity with an adult has a
sliver of truth, the real-life truth of the matter is that the
responsibility for dealing with the potential pitfalls of the child's
actions would fall back on the parent, whether it was disease,
pregnancy, legal entanglements, psychological treatment, whatever.

Again, I hate to fall into the trap of debating an idea by subjecting it
to the worst-case scenario. But this was a real-life scenario that was
handled in a way by the proponents of TCS that essentially raised the
stakes of standing off from the extremely negative-attention-getting
behaviors of this child to a level of pathological indulgence.

At Sudbury Schools we are often confronted by students who are
unwilling/unable to take responsibility for behaving in a manner that
violates the rights of others. That standard of behavior takes the form
of rules passed by the student's peers. The reality is that for those
who cannot exist in the Sudbury culture, the Sudbury model can offer no

What is missing from TCS is that it is a single philosophy operating
outside of cultural context. The fiber of cultur consists of rules,
relationships, conversation and the mechanisms by which the culture
forms and enforces limits to the behavior of individuals.

I think there is an interpretation of TCS out there that takes into
account the stakes parents have in the welfare of their child, and
acknowledges that it's OK to limit the child's behavior of children when
the potential consequences asymmetrically impact the parents or other
parts of the culture.

It's just that a philosophy is only as good as the culture that it
exists in, and all of the interpretations of TCS I have heard to this
point focus maniacally on the one philosophical point to the exclusion
of everything else.


Received on Fri May 30 2003 - 02:59:01 EDT

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