Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] TCS

From: Tom Hall <>
Date: Tue Jun 3 11:15:00 2003

     After having been away from the list for a little while (changing
my e-mail address) I am both pleased and perturbed to see this
discussion of TCS. I have wondered why there wasn't more interest in
TCS principles by folks that advocate Sudbury Valley model schooling, as
there are many common ideas between the two movements. The attitudes
towards respect for children (or taking them seriously) and towards how
people best learn and grow are very similar in many respects.

     In my experience, the people who are involved in TCS are engaged in
the development of the best way that I have yet found to enact these
ideas in a family setting, while those at Sudbury Valley are engaged in
developing the best way that I have yet found to enact them in a school

     Upon catching up on reading the posts here so far, I must say that
the vehemently negative attitudes towards TCS displayed here mainly
indicate an ignorance of TCS rather than a disagreement with it. In
contrast to this, when Sudbury Model schools are mentioned on the TCS
list, it is mostly as an example of a positive and much less coercive
alternative to traditional schooling. The main disagreement seems to be
(as Mike Sandofsky mentioned), that TCS people object to Sudbury Valley
Model schools being characterized as non coercive institutions, when in
fact, like any democracy, they are inherently coercive to some degree.

     I am by no means a spokesman for TCS, just someone who has been
reading and posting on the list for a few years, and who tries to use
it's principles in my own life. Here's some of my ideas about some of
the points that have been raised so far. It'll take me a few posts to
get through them all, so bear with me....;)

Joe Jackson says:

>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.

The concept of "allowing" a child to do something has as little meaning in TCS as it does at SVS. At SVS you are not "allowing" a child to learn. You are simply not getting in the way of them doing so. You are giving them the materials and guidance to help them when they ask for it, and you are trusting that the way that they choose to learn is the best way for them. It is not a question of you knowing better, and "allowing" them to make mistakes or indulging them in their chosen path to learning and growth.

In TCS, one is not "allowing" or indulging" one's child in their learning about themselves and life. The same kind of trust is involved, in that one knows that the child's path to growth and knowledge is their own. No matter how we might speculate, or think we "know better", the best thing that we can do is to be a trusted advisor, giving them the benefit of our experience and knowledge when they want it, and helping to protect and guide them as best we can without getting in the way of their learning (coercing them).

The difference in the ways that these two very similar philosophies are played out is the difference between an institution and a family. In the family setting of TCS one has the freedom of being able to avoid coercion by seeking a common preference (a solution that everyone prefers as much or more than their original idea) at all times. Common preference seeking is not always possible (or perhaps even desirable) in the larger institutional setting of SVS.

(snip of points raised about a specific TCS discussion that I haven't seen)

>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.

The cultural context of TCS is the context of the family - most specifically the parent/child relationship. It does not pretend to be a model for the larger culture, or for one's behavior within that culture, any more than SVS pretends to be a model for how one should democratically organize one's family life.

That's all I have time for now - I'll try to get to other points that interested me soon, if anyone is interested......

Tom Hall

Received on Tue Jun 03 2003 - 11:14:03 EDT

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