[Discuss-sudbury-model] Tennis and table tennis

From: <JerryAERO_at_aol.com>
Date: Wed Apr 21 00:56:00 2004

In a message dated 4/20/04 8:52:50 PM, sallyr_at_socal.rr.com writes:

<< The group that met this weekend to begin talk of a new school included a
year old boy who is a very good tennis player. I had introduced free
democratic school ideas and he wasn't yet accepting them, saying that well
if he didn't have to go classes all he would do would play tennis and sit
around all day (and this is a child who was homeschooled until 6th grade
with a lot of freedom). To which my 18 year old son replied Well, why
don't you? And a 15 year old boy told him about a time when he was
watching TV and was bored and his eye caught a yoga book which he flipped
through and then began reading it and turned off the TV and got really
interested in yoga. Yay! I felt that little discussion was the crux of
the meeting.

Anyway, today I was talking more about it with my husband and we were
thinking, okay say this group was a free school and this boy really did
want to play tennis a great majority of the time. How would that be
arranged? I'm not at all sure we would have a place to play tennis, so
would he be off somewhere else most of the time and then not being able to
be with his friends? And that brought us back to the issue of living in
the Los Angeles area and what that means in terms of property and land
available and then what that means in terms of opportunities and just how
the space and setting of the school contribute to what happens. Not that
I'm at all suggesting we need the world but I think space is a factor in
how folks can hang out and mix and try things out. I'm wondering how many
free schools are in urban or congested environments and how that is working

Sally >>

Sally, it has been my experience that if you use a true democratic process
that it doesn't matter where you start or what you focus on first. I volunteer
at a local Boys and Girls Club coaching table tennis. When interest became
overwhelming, I set up a democratically run table tennis club within the Boys and
Girls Club. I directed a democratic school for 17 years before I started AERO,
so it just seemed a natural thing to do. But it turned out to be a sort of
unplanned experiment, so see if an interracial group of kids from 7-12 who went
to public school could accept, use, and benefit from a democratic process. The
results continuously surprise me. We now have democratic meetings and
projects in almost as wide a range as we did at my school. The difference between
these kids and the others not in the club is pretty clearly observable. I think
that key is that the decisions the students make, even though they are only
concerning our table tennis club, are absolutely democratic. If anyone would like
a copy of an article about it which appeared in the most recent US Table
Tennis Magazine, I can sent it. We did win the New York State championship and
individual under 12 year old and under ten year old championships, but that is
just a byproduct of the club, I feel. Some of my students have even read my new
book (No Homework and Recess All Day: How to have freedom and democracy in
education) and have done book reports on it for their public schools!

Jerry Mintz
Received on Wed Apr 21 2004 - 00:55:38 EDT

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