RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Values?

From: Alan Klein <>
Date: Sun Apr 11 18:53:00 2004


A couple of thoughts occurred to me as I read your message.

In referring to activities that are designed to foster (inculcate?)
values directly, you said, "It seems to me that this is separate from
learning per's not the how of learning but the what." I
disagree. I believe it is simply another "what".

Chris Argyris, an early theorist on organization and group development,
coined the terms "values expressed" and "values in action". Looking at
the differences in those two helps make clear what a group's (and an
individual's) values really are, or at least the real impact of their
actions that purport to live out those values.

For example, in this case, you want your kids to learn about "social
injustice". A fine and noteworthy value, but only a "value expressed"
until we examine how it is lived out. Your church, and you and your
husband, does this by pressing your kids into servitude to serve dinner
to others. So, the "value in action" is that you believe in forcing
people to do things against their will. Do you see the irony, perhaps
even the hypocrisy, in this? Remember that "values in action" are many
times more powerful in their ability to impact learning, than are
"values expressed".

Kids (and adults) in democratic schools develop wonderful values because
they actually LIVE them - day by day, week by week, year by year. If
they serve dinners to the homeless, it's because they see the need and
experience the desire to do so. If they don't, they see others
responding to the need and, at least implicitly, have to grapple with
their own values and how they are or are not living them out.

That said, there is nothing inherently anti-democratic with placing
requirements on people's attendance at a democratic school. We have all
done it as we require participation in the judiciary systems and, in
many schools, in the clean-up system. The essential ingredient, and one
that is missing in your church's methodology and in the methodology I
hear you potentially advocating for a school, is that the School Meeting
places that requirement on itself. It is not imposed by staff or parents
or other kids.

So, you ask, "Is the idea of doing something as a school, say for Martin
Luther King Day, ruled out because someone might not be interested in
it?" If the School Meeting voted for it, it is certainly not ruled out.
Would I vote for it? No, even though I am a passionate advocate for
human rights and for valuing and celebrating diversity. No, I take that
back. I would vote against such a motion BECAUSE I am a passionate
advocate for human rights and for valuing and celebrating diversity!

As the father of two daughters, I approach your question about gender
roles in a similar fashion. In 1981, I was a founding staff member of
The Highland School, in West Virginia. As it was our first year, we
naturally had kids from traditional schools who were trained in the
gender-related expectations and patterns of the society in which they
grew up. This manifested itself in many ways. I am pleased to report,
however, that over the eight years that I was a staff member there, and
the eleven years the school operated after that, a natural process of
individual, as versus gender-specific, development occurred. It required
nothing other than the freedom to express itself, in an environment that
allowed them to actually live out their interests.

Hope this helps,
~Alan Klein

-----Original Message-----
Sally Rosloff
I have been reading about 7 publications I bought from the Sudbury
Press. Have been thinking and talking a lot with my husband about it
all. I am involved with a few people thinking of starting a school but
Sudbury and now that I find myself drawn to that model I am working on
being articulate and able to answer questions.

So, one of the things that came up in talking with my husband was that
values. What might be perceived as an "agenda." It seems to me that
is separate from learning per's not the how of learning but the
what. For example, we think it important for our children to know about

social injustice, the history of democracy in this country and the
of injustice in the world. We belong to a Unitarian Universalist
congregation where my husband is head of the Religious Education program

(very small!) and they include having the kids go to help serve
Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner to the homeless through a local church

program, as well as helping with other similar programs throughout the

I suppose you could say children are exposed to such things, or not,
through their families or in other way outside of school. But we would
like to think that awareness of these issues could be included in school
well. I see the wonderful outcome of the Sudbury model from the reading

where graduates are attune to issues of justice and ethics from having
treated respectfully and ethically themselves...hallelujah! At the same

time we think it important for people to be aware of the history of
democracy in this country and the current state of rights for people,
children included. Is this something that if I were a staff member,
children would get exposed to simply because this is a passion of mine
I would be living it? Is the idea of doing something as a school, say
Martin Luther King Day, ruled out because someone might not be
in it? I need some help understanding this.

I was also struck, when reading about the plasticene play in the early
days, that it seemed to be the boys playing. What may have appeared to
disinterest by the girls may actually have been the result of cultural
messages that it is not something girls do. Similar to the current
of not enough girls going into math or using the computer. My daughter
the only girl taking an extracurricular class on creating computer games
a class of 21. Her older brother included her in his interest and she
now interested. I doubt that in general girls are not interested
they are born female. I guess I'm saying that we live in a world where
matter of interest is not pure and is anything done proactively to watch

out for and counteract those negative influences.
Received on Sun Apr 11 2004 - 18:52:48 EDT

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