Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Lack of interest?

From: Mike Sadofsky <>
Date: Tue Mar 16 08:53:00 2004

On Mon, 15 Mar 2004 21:52:15 -0800, Sally Rosloff
<> wrote:

>>"What about when kids appear to have lost interest when in fact they have
>>stopped because of a fear or being discouraged or something like that and
>>exploring that could help them to continue and by doing so gain confidence."
>>I agree that exploring fear and discouragement are vital. But can you see
>>that behind your question is the notion that you will have to step in and
>>fix something or generate it for them. SVS students get plenty of practice
>>facing fear and discouragement for themselves. Many prevailing themes of
>>the thesis defenses demonstrate their great pride in what has been overcome
>>or developed in themselves. The inherent belief that they will be and do
>>what is necessary with their own energy/psyche/intellect is precisely what
>>SVS empowers.
>Hi Carol,
>Hmmmmm. I'm thinking about your reply that behind my question is the idea
>of fixing something or generating something. So do you believe that there
>is never a place in human relations for encouragement? Or is it that there
>is a fear of a possible power imbalance that would not be truly respecting
>the student's decisions? And that fear keeps staff from any suggestions?
Of course there is an apparent "power imbalance" between a child and
an adult. This occurs throughout our society. Staff at Sudbury model
schools work hard at keeping this imbalance at a minimum, but it is
always in the background.

Should the child specifically ask for assistance or criticism, the
staff member is there to provide it. But for the staff member to take
it upon him/herself to encourage (or discourage) the child's
expression of personal interest/learning is decidedly contrary to the
concept of the school.

>Say my husband decides to take up hiking and I'm not particularly
>interested in it so I don't join him. But at some point he says it would
>be fun for him for me to go so I go one time and end up with sore muscles
>so the next time I tell him I'm not interested. He asks why and I say that
>my muscles were too sore and I'm not in shape and don't want to go through
>that discomfort. Without being coercive he says that of course it's up to
>me (and means it) but that he misses my company and that he went through
>sore muscles at first but now he has worked up to it and that is not a
>problem and that would probably happen with me. So I think about it and
>decide that maybe there's something to what he's saying and I would enjoy
>spending the time with him so I go again. I go several times and do have
>sore muscles but eventually also work up to it and then I find that I
>really enjoy the hiking and the beautiful views that I would never have
>experienced and also sharing this with my husband and the benefits of the
>exercise and I'm glad that he encouraged me to not give it up.
The relationship you describe above between wife and husband differs
markedly from the relationship at school between child and staff.
Staff are employees of the School Meeting; people hired to operate the
school (and, by being mature adults, to also serve as adult role
models.) If staff are to take upon themselves the position that they
ought to encourage a child (all children) to develop interests the
staff has, then that's "a curriculum," with everything it implies. Of
course, a parent might relate to her child (away from school) in a
fashion similar to what you describe above, and this further
underscores a difference between the parent/child relationship and the
staff/student relationship.
>So did he step in and fix something in me and/or generate an interest for
>me that somehow takes something away from me? Or did he simply see, from
>his experience of going through the sore muscles and getting to the
>benefits, that that might also happen for me and so shared what he had
>learned with me without imposing anything?

In an earlier post, you asked,
>Like just what do
>staff do each day (I know, I know, there is no typical day). I'm just
>curious about what they come in each day planning, or not planning to
Let me try to respond to this in a way that may shed some light on the
question above. Staff are hired to do the many things that must be
done to keep the school viable. They need to represent the school to
the outside world. They need to see to the school's maintenance and
its cleanliness. They need to sit in school meeting and in judicial
committee and contribute to the debate and decision making as mature
adults. If you look at the information about Sudbury valley School,
for example, and think about what goes on to create this information
and make it available, you'll get some sense of what staff do. But
staff are individuals with individual interests and they find time to
pursue these interests as well. So the staff with artistic interests
practice their arts and share there arts with those students who are
so inclined. Perhaps some enjoy writing; Acting, science, history,
economics, current affairs, mechanics, construction, hiking, camping
....these too can be shared , but at the initiative of the child, not
of the staff member.

>I'm pondering.
Just another perspective.

Mike Sadofsky
Received on Tue Mar 16 2004 - 08:52:10 EST

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