[Discuss-sudbury-model] Hypothetical Question Re. Commestibles in Sudbury Schools

From: Ardeshir Mehta <ardeshir_at_sympatico.ca>
Date: Fri Oct 31 06:17:01 2003

Hi all,

I would like to ask a hypothetical question to those who know
Sudbury-type schools intimately: Are the students and staff at Sudbury
schools allowed to consume (i.e., eat, drink or in any other way
introduce into their bodies) anything and everything they choose?

I would like to point out that even in a democracy, it can never be the
right of the majority to dictate to the minority - or even to a single
individual - what he/she may do in his or her own private life,
provided that *no one else is harmed thereby*. Thus it can never be the
right of the majority to dictate to an individual what he/she may
introduce into his/her own body, provided, as I said, that no harm is
done to anyone *else* as a result.

Nevertheless there are many democracies which do enact legal
prohibitions of such nature. For instance, in most Anglophone countries
- democracies or otherwise - people are not permitted to legally
consume alcohol or consume tobacco in any form until they reach the age
of 18 or so. In most countries no one of any age may take prescription
medication without a doctor's permission, and people below a certain
age may also not *refuse* to take any medication prescribed by a
doctor. In almost all countries, introducing hallucinogens into one's
own body is a crime. All these are against the basic principle of
democracy that what a person does entirely privately is his or her own
business and cannot be any concern of society unless society and/or any
of its members suffer(s) harm thereby - but nevertheless that's how it

What I would like to know is, how do Sudbury-type schools deal with
such situations? For instance, are students of tender age allowed to
consume alcohol or tobacco on school grounds? What about marijuana use,
which in clandestine form is rampant in virtually all other types of
schools? Can students who are devotees of Shiva bring to school a drink
laced with *Shiva Bhang*, which is a 4,000-year-old hemp-based product,
based on an ancient Vedic tradition, and which around the eigth century
A.D was integrated into the medical practice of Ayurveda, the ancient
Indian system of medicine (see for instance
http://www.xs4all.nl/~bhang/)? What about oxy-codone, a modern
prescription medication which is nowadays widely used by teenagers for
getting high with?

I ask especially because the practice of introducing different and
hitherto unfamiliar substances into one's body during one's teenage
years is widespread all over the world - in fact at least, even though
it may not in every case be legal. Indeed it is often the very
illegality of the act that causes teenagers to want to do it with all
the greater enthusiasm. They argue in their own minds - and I for one
can't fault their logic - that what they do to themselves, as long as
it harms no one else, is their *right*.

As far as I know, A.S. Neill allowed his students at Summerhill to
smoke; and I may be wrong, but I think he also allowed them to drink
alcohol. I don't think he had any views on marijuana, at least I've
never read them if he did have any (and I've read pretty much
everything he wrote); but since pot is not nearly as toxic as alcohol
or tobacco, I don't see how he could have logically speaking argued
against it.

So how does Sudbury - and Sudbury-type schools - deal with such issues?
I don't think I have seen much in the literature to give me a clear
answer. (And I find it hard to believe that *all* students at
Sudbury-type schools abstain from consuming such substances!)

Happy Halloween,

Ardeshir Mehta,
Ottawa, Canada

Home Page <http://homepage.mac.com/ardeshir/AllMyFiles.html>
Received on Fri Oct 31 2003 - 00:19:12 EST

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