RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Values?

From: Sally Rosloff <>
Date: Tue Apr 20 00:52:01 2004

Had a busy week! Thanks for your reply. I am feeling my way around on
learning about this stuff and it's sometimes hard to pose a question to get
at what I'm really chewing on.

I see why my question might have been misleading. What I think I'm still
working through are the possible nuances between impose and expose. I
certainly know what it means to impose but from some of the exchanges
around here I get the impression that what I might consider to be exposing,
some might consider imposing. So.

I just read "Making It Up As We Go Along" about the Albany Free School and
am thinking about differences...they seem to talk more about working with
emotional difficulties, about feelings and about having built a community
around the school.

Also, I've been talking about the free, democratic school model with some
folks who want to start a new school and one of their questions had to do
with temperament types as in the Myers-Briggs model. This person was
wondering about different types needing different things, and that it might
be harder for some people to start from nothing so to speak, that perhaps
they do better with some things to choose from. I get a bit confused that
free schools, if they offer anything, seem to offer art and music and
perhaps cooking, but why those over other things? Ugh, I'm having trouble
writing this. Is my question making sense?

At 12:38 AM 4/12/2004 -0400, you wrote:
>I share your frustrations around e-mail "discussion", but I guess we'll
>just have to make the best of it!
> From your first message I did make the assumption that the kids at
>church have to do the volunteer work, at least to stay in good standing
>in the youth group. I understand now that I was mistaken. If the
>experience was voluntary then it certainly falls within the parameters
>of what one might expect to see at a democratic school. I wonder,
>though, why you asked the question in the first place. If it is a
>clearly voluntary activity, then why would there be a question in your
>mind as to whether it would be allowable in a Democratic school?
>I did deliberately pose my response fairly starkly and I admit to doing
>so without really knowing you or your situation. I am reminded of one
>family at The Highland School who bemoaned the transition they had had
>to endure when their kids started coming to our school. It seems that
>while their kids were in traditional school, they saw their parents as
>paragons of freedom and flexibility. Once they started going to our
>school, however, they began to see their parents as more controlling!
>As to your direct question about taking little kids places even when
>they don't want to go, it is actually a fairly tricky issue with many
>- On one level, of course we all take our kids places they don't
>necessarily want to go because to leave them alone would be
>- On another level, when my kids were younger I did try to make sure I
>had explored all options with them if they did not want to go someplace.
>If I could accommodate them, I would.
>- On a slightly tangential tangent, I remember when my 25 year old
>daughter was 2. My older brother was visiting me. The three of us went
>somewhere and when we got in the car to go home my daughter did not want
>to get in her car seat. Rather than have a battle, I told her what I
>wanted and simply waited, conversing with my brother, until she was
>ready to get in the seat. It went on for a fairly long time and on the
>way home, my brother remarked on the extreme amount of patience he saw
>me use.
>- On a more directly related tangent, from the time she was one year
>old, my daughter had been splitting her time between her mother and me.
>When she was four, she announced to her mother that she did not want to
>come to be with me. I agonized over this for a while and then had the
>realization that, if she were 16, this would be a no-brainer. Though it
>would still be emotionally difficult for me, I would clearly see it as
>her decision at that age. I then realized that I had no idea when the
>age was that the magic transformation would take place and so I decided
>that it might as well begin at age 4. I told her it was up to her and
>that she could make her own decision. We spent a week at Thanksgiving at
>my parents' house and Becca decided that she did, indeed, want to
>continue the shared living pattern we had developed.
>In fact, it was through this that we came to an important realization
>for her -- it was not a matter of not wanting to spend time with me.
>Rather, it was a matter of not wanting to leave wherever she happened to
>be. This has been an important learning for her, which continues to
>resonate even today at age 25.
>As to the gender issue, to quote the Rabbi, you're both right! I think
>we do vastly underestimate the subtle messages we give kids as to our
>gender expectations for them. The blue and pink ribbon example you gave
>is an excellent reminder of that. (I am reminded of a story I read many
>years ago about "Baby X", whose parents dressed the baby in green and
>yellow, always kept the baby clothed, and never let on Baby X's gender.
>The story explored the frustration of family and friends who did not
>know how to react to this baby person of indeterminate gender!
>On the other hand, there are certainly physical differences between the
>genders as groups, so why not assume that there are also
>mental/emotional/psychological differences between the genders as
>groups. Of course, even assuming the group differences does not tell us
>anything about individual boys or girls!
>Thanks for continuing the discussion!
>~Alan Klein
>-----Original Message-----
>Sally Rosloff
>Having just read Michael Greenberg's essay on conversation I am
>at having to use this medium for discussion.
>Having read your responses I find myself feeling defensive and wondering
>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
>how we actually live our lives.
>I would like to think that the way we live our lives actually is the
>of clear thinking and not out of rebellion. As well, the fact that I
>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
>in, as seems implied in your responses. I guess I need a good
>around the words "impose" versus "expose."
>People who know us comment on the choices we have made that provide
>for our kids. We talk and talk and listen and listen to our kids and
>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
>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,
>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
>providing an opportunity for kids to help the homeless is characterized
>"forcing people to do things against their will." But I wasn't very
>specific. Doing this service is voluntary. Some kids might go who
>really interested because the activity is organized and their friends
>going, but they are not forced. There is no requirement, like there is
>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
>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
>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
>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
>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
>they think it is a girl or a boy, such as cooing to girls and throwing
>and down and bouncing boys. Etc. etc.
>The attributes of the Sudbury model indeed sound as if they would
>both boys and girls to follow their inclinations but the example of the
>plasticine brought my concerns to mind.
>Discuss-sudbury-model mailing list
Received on Tue Apr 20 2004 - 00:51:52 EDT

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