Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Learning to think.

From: Helena Chester <>
Date: Wed Sep 3 16:23:00 2003

Hi Bruce
When I talk about choice, I mean people's choice to choose the Sudbury model
(the full glass as per your analogy). And just as in the democratic model,
self-determination ends up moderating the whole community and promoting its
welfare, can't you see that happening with education.
When students and parents are realising the benefits of democratic
schooling, that system will grow, and when it grows, people power will
ensure that funding is more equal across the different types of schooling so
more people have the opportunity to access it. But, there will always have
to be choice. I don't know one historical instance that shows a monopoly to
ever have a lasting beneficial effect, and that applies to state education
too. I am thankful that there are alternatives. Even in non-democratic
situations, people can vote with their feet and their wallets!

Message -----
From: "Bruce Smith" <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, September 04, 2003 5:59 AM
Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Learning to think.

> Hi, Helena. I'm a staff member at a Sudbury school, and a former
> public-school teacher. I'd like to give your thoughts more consideration,
> but for now, here's what's on my mind...
> On Thu, 4 Sep 2003, Helena Chester wrote:
> > I am all for choice!
> Then why is there a need to qualify choice, to limit it? Why do any more
> than expect everyone to make choices that don't impinge on others' ability
> to choose (and hold them accountable in a democratic setting when that
> happens)? If you're all for choice, then what justification do you have
> for limited choices?
> If you argue that it's better for traditionally schooled students to have
> some choices, as opposed to virtually none, again I would tend to
> disagree. It's the "slightly pregnant" argument. If children are not
> full-fledged participants, with a full voice and vote in their education,
> then they are not free -- period. Pardon my bluntness, but I believe that
> a minimum-security prison, with humane guards and copious privileges, is
> still a prison. Having served as a humane guard once upon a time, I ask:
> is it better to have a marginally better experience, to have a humane
> teacher as opposed to a dictator? Sure -- but compared to what the
> students in question _could_ have, it still sucks. It's so limiting, so
> distorting, so unnecessary.
> That's what frustrates some of us, and underlies the debate, I believe:
> you may see "improvements" as a glass half-full, but I (and possibly
> Joe, and possibly others) ask why the glass has to be so damned small??
> >But, we CAN improve things for those who are limited to public/compulsory
> > education by implementing some of
> > the strategies that are part of the Sudbury model...
> > it might help some students who wouldn't have had a
> > very meaningful education to have a better experience.
> I think Joe has a point about the inability to break free of the
> traditional education paradigm. I won't presume to know where you are, but
> when I was teaching in that system, and knew it to be very flawed, I
> _still_, for a long time, continued to view my ideal remedies through
> traditional lenses. "We just need better classes, more student input,"
> etc. But it is NOT about making the old system better; it's about making a
> new, better system. Anything else is just tinkering -- it might help some,
> perhaps a few if those significantly, but ultimately nothing will change
> much -- or enough.
> Which is not to say that some students might not choose a more traditional
> form of education, at least for a while. They should have that choice
> (though I doubt it would be very popular for very long: how many people
> would choose to be disempowered, disrespected, etc.?) But right now, they
> don't even have that much choice.
> Increasing access to choice-based education is a worthy goal. Trying to
> make it happen within the existing traditional schools is, imho, a
> comparative and tragic waste of time.
> Bruce Smith
> Alpine Valley School
> _______________________________________________
> Discuss-sudbury-model mailing list
Received on Wed Sep 03 2003 - 16:22:25 EDT

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