RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model]

From: Scott David Gray <sgray_at_sudval.org>
Date: Wed Mar 31 19:22:00 2004

On Wed, 31 Mar 2004, Sam Patton wrote:

> Have you, or others you know, found that you hadn't
> learned something that was needed later in life? I'm
> thinking specifically of something like calculus or
> algebra. Do a lot of the students (is that the right
> term?) at SVS choose to learn that kind of thing?

Nope. Certainly, when I was a student, I never chose to
learn calculus. I did, however, want to calculate
probabilities (trying to win a long-running war-game), and
figured out how to do it (looking some things up in books).
I never was motivated to 'learn calculus' -- I was motivated
to solve the issue that I cared about right in front of me!

Hrm, correction. I guess that I _have_ frequently realized
that there was something that I wanted to know that I didn't
know. It just never felt a handicap, because as soon as one
_needs_ (or wants) to know, it's very easy to find out. I
certainly don't think that I encounter difficult problems
that I need to know more to solve any more (or any less)
than most people. I do feel more confident in my ability to
find out such things than most people in traditional school
though (having not been misled into believing that such
things are difficult).

> Another question: you are free to just sort of sit around
> and hang out. Do some students choose to spend their
> entire school experience doing pretty much nothing? What
> do you find motivated you?

"Notihing" is a somewhat negative word, and hard to define.
"Notihing" is a somewhat negative word, and hard to define.
When I sit and talk with others about politics, science,
theology, pop culture, etcetera, is that "nothing?" If so,
then indeed many students do "nothing" for most of their
career at SVS. When I sit and read fiction or watch movies
with friends, or play games, is that "nothing?" If so, then
many students do "nothing" at Sudbury schools.

Many people think that "something" in a school means sitting
down _in_order_ to acquire facts. In which case very, very
few students at Sudbury schools ever do "somethinng."

But facts are easy! Even learning to read -- something that
traditional schools think takes 12 years -- is just a 26
letter code. If you've ever chosen to study a foreign
language with a non-latin alphabet, you know that learning
to read takes DAYS or WEEKS at most. Most people at Sudbury
Schools just absrob" reading the same way that infants
absorb language -- very little actively trying to read, but
happening naturally when struggling with the computer, video
game, or being read to.

Facts are easy. What's tough is balance, perspective,
humanity, responsibility. You can't learn responsibility as
easily in an environment where others are responsible for
you. When you're responsible for yourself, then you learn to
wrestle with the _real_ issues that face humanity. Kids who
study for the SATs can get all the math they need to get
into the college of their choice in a couple weeks. When
someone first sits down to do his/her taxes s/he somehow
figures out how to do them. Learning as it comes up is more
natural, and much easier.

People are motivated to do what people are motivated to do!
Look at how kids spend their weekends, summers, and free
time when in the company of other children. That's what kids
do at SVS.

I know that when I was a student at SVS, I was deeply
motivated to do "nothing" all day, and was extraordinarily
busy doing it! There were never enough hours in the day to
have all the conversations, play all the games, fight all
the (verbal) fights and horse around! Most people would call
what I did with my time "nothing" -- I found the opposite,
and that I never did more "nothing" then when I wasted four
years in college passing tests and parroting back what
professors and graduate students wanted to hear; it was so
terribly anti-intellectual! SVS is _deeply_ intellectual,
because it doesn't assume that people _need_ scheduled
classes, grades or gold stars as incentives to _think_ and
_feel_. This stuff is _innately_ interesting -- we don't
have to cajole or persuade or force anybody to do anything!

Sudbury schools are _not_ about motivating people to learn.
They are about letting people learn as an aside to doing
whatever it is that they are motivated to do. When I was a
student, nothing external 'motivated' me; motivation -- all
motivation -- is internal. Including the hokey motivation "I
want to Ace this test" -- which inspires people to turn off
their heads and to turn on their capacity to BS the tester.

Side story: When I was a student at Boston College, one of
my dearest friends, Father Madigan, was a professor who one
day asked me 'why are you one of the only students who does
the reading? don't they know that they could get better
grades doing the reading?' I responded that I was an
anal-retentive jerk who felt he should read it, but that I
felt reading didn't have a lot to do with passing the tests.
We made a gentleman's bet -- I would skip one of the
readings at random, and _he_ would have to tell from my
mid-term which reading I skipped. Suffice to say, I won the
bet -- I aced that section of the mid-term, despite the fact
that he asked an essay question (the hints for the answer he
was expecting were embedded in the question).

> sam
>
>
> >From: Scott David Gray <sgray_at_sudval.org>
> >Reply-To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
> >To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
> >Subject: RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model]
> >Date: Wed, 31 Mar 2004 08:23:39 -0500 (EST)
> >
> >I have often looked back at my life, certain that it would
> >be a less happy one had I not attended SVS. Of course this
> >is subjective -- I can't prove what would / could have been.
> >But I know that I am not the only SVS alumnus who looks back
> >at the path he was on in traditional school (self-hatred,
> >boredom which was blamed on the self rather than the
> >restraints around, total disrespect) and thinks that SVS
> >almost certainly saved him from a life of crime,
> >mind-altering addictions, and bitterness.
> >
> >On the more positive side... Other alumni who've gone on to
> >college and I have talked about that experience. For each of
> >us, we clearly found college easier than our contemporaries
> >from traditional school (not that college matters, but hey).
> >I think that there are two reasons. First, each of us
> >watched our peers swimming waiting to be told when/how to
> >get their readings / papers / etcetera done -- while each of
> >us were used to being responsible for ourselves and
> >therefore not waiting to be handheld. Second, each of us was
> >able to take college with a sense of humor -- we all knew
> >that the grades and tests were meaningless -- only games to
> >be played or ignored, rather than things over which to tear
> >ourselves apart. These experiences in college also seem to
> >be mirrored by alumni who've gone on to various professions
> >-- that they had a better sense of what was / wasn't
> >important, and took charge of their needs themselves.
> >
> >Any disadvantages? Again, there's a problem trying to
> >imagine what could have / would have been. But I guess that
> >there is one disadvantage. Given the innate disrespect in
> >which children are held in our wider culture, I know that I
> >am not the only alumnus of the school who has lost friends
> >in the wider community because we were unwilling to tolerate
> >injustice. This actually tends to extend beyond injustice
> >to kids -- SVS alumni tend to look with horror on injustice
> >of all sorts, and so are much less prone to shrug and say
> >'that's life' -- as such, SVS alumni are prone to have more
> >people who deeply like and respect them, but also more
> >people who disrespect them and think of them as arrogant or
> >foreward because SVS alumni are generally more willing to
> >'shake things up.'
> >
> >On Tue, 30 Mar 2004, Sam Patton wrote:
> >
> > > I completely agree that badly is in the eye of the beholder. My
> >definition
> > > would probably include whether they were happy after graduating. Were
> >they
> > > able to feel fulfilled and satisified living in the post-SVS world. In
> >SVS,
> > > everyone seems to be taken seriously and has a voice that is heard and
> > > respected. Sadly, that is considerably different than most of society.
> > >
> > > I'd love to hear how SVS prepared you for post-SVS life. What have you
> >done
> > > post-SVS?
> > >
> > > sam
> > >
> > > >From: "Tay Arrow Sherman" <spiregrain_at_mad.scientist.com>
> > > >Reply-To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
> > > >To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
> > > >Subject: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model]
> > > >Date: Tue, 30 Mar 2004 17:57:38 -0500
> > > >
> > > >Hi Sam,
> > > >
> > > >Turning out badly is very much in the eye of the beholder, isnt it?
> >Whats
> > > >your definition, can we use that?
> > > >
> > > >If you'd like to ask me about how SVS prepared me for post-SVS life, I
> > > >would be happy to have extended dialogue with you.
> > > >
> > > >Peace,
> > > >Tay Arrow Sherman, SVS graduating class of 1996
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >Is there any information about people who went through a government
> >type
> > > >school or any other type of school and turned out badly? Pick any
> > > >definition
> > > >of badly you'd like :)
> > > >
> > > >~ David ;)
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >----- Original Message -----
> > > >From: "Sam Patton" <sam_patton_at_hotmail.com>
> > > >To: <discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org>
> > > >Sent: Tuesday, March 30, 2004 3:13 AM
> > > >Subject: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Sudbury Valley graduates who fail
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > > Is there any information about people who went through a Sudbury
> >Valley
> > > >type
> > > > > school and turned out badly? Pick any definition of badly you'd
> >like :)
> > > > >
> > > > > Sudbury Valley sounds too good to be true. I don't have any kids,
> >but
> > > >I'm
> > > > > already arguing with my girlfriend about whether this would be a
> >good
> > > >way
> > > >to
> > > > > educate our "potential future" children. One of the things I'd like
> >to
> > > >know
> > > > > is how the students turn out in later life. Do they miss out on
> > > >anything
> > > > > that they really needed that a more traditional school would have
> > > >provided?
> > > > >
> > > > > sam
> > > >--
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> >
> >--
> >
> >--Scott David Gray
> >reply to: sgray_at_sudval.org
> >http://www.unseelie.org/
> >============================================================
> >If two men agree on everything, you may be sure that one of
> >them is doing the thinking.
> >
> >-- Lyndon Baines Johnson
> >============================================================
> >
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-- 
 
--Scott David Gray
reply to: sgray_at_sudval.org
http://www.unseelie.org/
============================================================
A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight
car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the
whole railroad.
-- Teddy Roosevelt
============================================================
Received on Wed Mar 31 2004 - 19:20:09 EST

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