Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Re: Discuss-sudbury-model digest, Vol1 #157 - 7 msgs

From: Carol Hughes <>
Date: Sat Apr 17 11:30:00 2004


I'm sure that your students are aware of the difference in your attitude and
that you are making a difference. I asked a six year old piano and voice
student of mine how school was going this week. He said... rather sadly
o...kay. I said what's up. He said, I can't talk to my friends at school
and I'm bored a lot. I want to learn more math but they won't let me. He's
in the Sudbury, MA public school system which is supposed to be awesome.
He's very bright. In fact he's getting a kick out of learning the words to
the Major General song in the Pirates of Penzance. The vocabulary in that
piece has challenged my own knowledge. Other students let out huge sighs
when looking at a new page of music. That looks hard they say. Five
minutes later they are playing it. But what breaks my heart is that they
are so stressed out by not knowing. I tell them that a musician is always
working on music they don't know yet and how great it is that there are
endless pieces of music to learn. I always let my students tell me if they
like a page or not in their lesson books (which I only use for the first
level after that it's pieces of music from all over). One student insisted
that I reassure them that it was okay to skip a page in the book. I tell
them are no piano music police and trust me I know how to teach you to play
the piano. But oh the smiles when they start playing something they enjoy.
After a while my students give me hugs... uh oh, that's probably not allowed
too much now. Nevermind, if mom's there smiling it's probably okay. I
explain to my students over and over that joy is essential to making music.
Of course, joy is essential for learning any darn thing. George Leonard
said in his book 'Education and Ecstasy' that he only remembers the things
he learned in ecstasy. Works for me. If you think of it, I'm willing to
bet that certain teachers in your past made a huge difference for you in
capturing the joy and energy of creativity. All that said, I couldn't agree
with you more. We need more and more and more Sudbury schools. I wish you
could see the kind of people my children became while growing up and
"becoming" at a Sudbury school.

Recently, I visited the house I lived in as a child. There were ten-twelve
foot high rocks in the back yard. As I looked at those rocks I remember
standing on them and singing by the hour to my imaginary audiences who
adored me. I suddenly had a thought that the rocks had taught me to sing.
I was age 3-9 at that house and didn't have any piano or voice lessons til I
was 16. The children at Sudbury Valley School have many hours to spend on
rocks and many of them do. There's the beech tree "classroom" also.
Uninterupted time is essential for the spirit of a person to come through.
My wish is for a world where all people have the time for their art. It's
the best reason for living as far as I can tell - creativity.
Okay, I'll get off my bandbox now,

> > I understand your predicament Myra. I am also 49, just beginning a life
> > dream to be an art teacher. (excuse that term). And I will be working in
> > public middle school. I have been working there the last 2 years as an
> > and often find myself slipping into a role that I do not like.
> >
> > I feel a little stuck, not having a democratic school nearby, and not
> > the money or energy to start a new one. I believe that I can do SOME
> > just by talking and listening to my students honestly. There is a
little more
> > freedom in art classes though the requirements of the school do put a
lot of
> > restrictions on activities.
> >
> > I am hoping that I can create a personal relationship with my students
> > somehow overshadows the institutional one that is forced on us. I do not
> > if it is possible. I know that I have to keep a close check on myself to
> > playing the role.
> Hi William,
> I am an artist and an art teacher for the past sixteen years to grades
> even a little primary, in a rural Ontario public elementary school, (it
> a second career and I am 53), and I can assure you that it is *not*
> possible. The personal relationship part, well that happens wherever you
> are, thank heavens, and you will impact on the people around you with your
> own gifts; there are rewards with individual students and events,
> people; but, it does not overshadow the institutional issues of coercion,
> (and even though art is an amazing subject, there are students in my art
> classes who would rather be doing other things) curriculum needs and the
> structure that imposes, assessment and evaluation and the associated
> baggage, thirty-two kids in a small box, bells every so many minutes,
> washroom passes, no hats, no gum chewing, crowd control. The needs of the
> institution override personal needs daily, hourly, by the minute, and
> is little or no freedom... If you take on the role of public school
> teacher, you are indeed expected to meet the requirements of the job, and
> that will require you to "play the role," or not do what you are being
> to do and your performance will be unsatisfactory to your employer.
> I have accepted that where I work is far from ideal. There is a better
> to learn and I see the Sudbury model as the choice. For me, practically at
> this time and in this location, it is not an option. Some days I enjoy my
> job quite a lot. There are bright lights anywhere you are if you look and
> see them. Other days it is quite a struggle to function in the system, to
> watch children who can't fit there flail about, listen to teachers who are
> fighting battles they won't win, and to feel that it could be different.
> have stopped trying to change it. The public system is what it is. I do
> best where I am. Congratulations to those of you out there who are making
> Sudbury models work, who have the opportunity to experience the freedom
> the kids. Each successful school opens the door for another one. It must
> an amazing thing! I have really enjoyed following this discussion and wish
> you all well!
> Warm regards,
> Kristina
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Received on Sat Apr 17 2004 - 11:29:04 EDT

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