RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Values?

From: Sally Rosloff <>
Date: Sun Apr 11 23:43:00 2004

Joe and Alan,
Having just read Michael Greenberg's essay on conversation I am frustrated
at having to use this medium for discussion.

Having read your responses I find myself feeling defensive and wondering if
it has to do with the fact that you don't know us and the particular
questions I pose may not give you a sense of where we are really coming
from. Not knowing us, you can't know how extreme we may or may not be or
how we actually live our lives.

I would like to think that the way we live our lives actually is the result
of clear thinking and not out of rebellion. As well, the fact that I might
want to expose my children to the values I've mentioned does not mean we
force them down their throats or castigate them if they don't want to join
in, as seems implied in your responses. I guess I need a good conversation
around the words "impose" versus "expose."

People who know us comment on the choices we have made that provide freedom
for our kids. We talk and talk and listen and listen to our kids and now
that they are 14 and 18 I am delighted at the conversations we have and
enjoy knowing them as the people they are. But as parents we have evolved,
and were not there yet when they were born. We have come a long way and
while I wish I had realized sooner what seems so obvious to me now, about
freedom, the path is what it has been.

Thank you Alan, for pointing out about "values expressed" and "values in
action." That is a helpful way to look at it. I'm a bit taken aback that
providing an opportunity for kids to help the homeless is characterized as
"forcing people to do things against their will." But I wasn't very
specific. Doing this service is voluntary. Some kids might go who aren't
really interested because the activity is organized and their friends are
going, but they are not forced. There is no requirement, like there is now
in many high schools to do community service to graduate.

Your responses make me wonder more about the theory...would you say that
taking little children (say ages 0 to 7) anywhere is coercive? If you're
going to visit the grandparents and your 4 year old says they are not
interested do you get a babysitter? How does the idea of bringing children
to any kind of Sunday service work in this model? If you take them to
Sunday School the first time are you forcing them against their will? I
would much rather be discussing this in a conversation!!

Joe, on the issue of culturally influenced gender behavior you and I will
have to agree to disagree...there is a whole conversation there I would
love to have but writing it all out is rather daunting to me. I do know
that I hear of studies from time to time that do indicate a bias. Such as
putting a pink or blue bow on the same infant's head and asking folks to
hold it and observing their very different reactions depending on whether
they think it is a girl or a boy, such as cooing to girls and throwing up
and down and bouncing boys. Etc. etc.

The attributes of the Sudbury model indeed sound as if they would encourage
both boys and girls to follow their inclinations but the example of the
plasticine brought my concerns to mind.

Thank you both again for your responses, I'm looking forward to more

At 06:31 PM 4/11/2004 -0400, you wrote:
>Sally, welcome.
>It is quite true that as a community, students and staff grow quite familiar
>with the views and values and causes that each member holds dear.
>But it is my experience that for a person to be truly passionate about
>something and to be truly effective in causing change in the world, they
>need to have been fortunate enough to live in a space where they are allowed
>to decide for themselves what is important and what is not.
>For example, many of the people I grew up with were quite strident in
>various causes, and most of that came as a response to living with parents
>who were decidedly apolitical and not at all activist. So these views,
>expressed as lifestyles, were not a result of clear thinking and measured
>living, but were a direct response, even a sort of rebellion, from their
>parents and their world (of the late seventies/early eighties). Needless to
>say, as much of the political activist (which took root in rebellion as
>opposed to principle) spirit of the sixties dies, the activist spirit of
>these friends dies as well.
>Other people I have known who have had activist parents have gone the other
>direction, sick to death of "the world as a cause".
>So perhaps there is no better way to ensure that you children end up
>apolitical then by trying too hard to instill a sense of activism. :)
>In any case, my feeling about this, as well as the idea that the Sudbury
>School being essentially apolitical on the institutional level, is that
>people eternally underestimate the ability of kids to know what's going on
>in the world, so they continue to feel the need to construct institutions to
>force things down people's throats. But regardless of how important some
>social injustice or prejudice is, attempting to impose values upon a child
>is attempting to build a building of high architectural value on a shallow,
>crumbling foundation of externally-imposed value systems.
>In other words, the pathological result of education is that nobody knows
>what's good anymore. That's the result of 200 years of education as a
>science, both in the state institution and at home.
>So my continuing feeling is that: I talk to and listen to my kids, and they
>know good and well what is important to me, but I want them to be in an
>environment wherein *they* determine what is important, regardless of how it
>looks to me. The experience of being and growing in such an environment is
>training in the real fundamentals of life of growing a value system based on
>what *they* think and not on what a bunch of parents and advertisers and
>news analysists think.
>I think this approach to the environment is why you see the incredible
>outcomes of energized, effective, active and examined lives in Sudbury
>grads. In the middle of the process it may look like all goofing off and
>video games and basketball, but the real work is happening out of sight and
>it is all happening on a 40,000-ton reinforced concrete foundation of
>self-knowledge and self-determination.
> > 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? I need some help understanding this.
>As a staff member, you could certainly say to School Meeting, "I am going to
>do this. Would anybody like to join me?" Of course, you would not be able
>to mandate any student taking part if they did not choose to.
>And re the theories about behavioral patterns that form along sexual lines -
>I think the idea that they are formed in response to popular culture are
>largely false. I have seen many, many children in very neutral
>environments, and the girls still (generally) like dolls and beanies and
>the boys (generally) like play fighting and video games. There is crossover
>but I think there are differences between males and females, right when they
>come out of the birth canal. My children *never* watched television before
>they were 5, and yet the preferences were there.
>In fact, this theory is a hot button of mine, as they are almost always used
>to justify taking popular culture out of the hands of children. And popular
>culture is one of the most important things a child can learn about, IMO.
>My advice is do not underestimate the strength of children who have been
>allowed the space to find their inner voice.
>Best wishes to you,
>Joe Jackson
>Discuss-sudbury-model mailing list
Received on Sun Apr 11 2004 - 23:42:02 EDT

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