Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] R rated stuff, etc.

From: Sally Rosloff <>
Date: Sat May 15 16:26:00 2004

Hello All,
Below is my message to which there have been some replies:

<<<<I just read the article in Education Week about Fairhaven. What did you
all think of it? Was the part about anyone being able to watch R rated
movies and play any video game correct? If so, I'm curious about the
thinking behind it being okay for the youngest children to watch violent
and graphically disturbing images.

 From all the reading and thinking I've been doing, I have come to
understand and agree with the idea that everyone, regardless of age, has a
vote and can participate in running the school and also that everyone, no
matter how young, can be in touch with and follow their interests, desires,
and passion. But it has been my experience that 5, 6, and 7 year olds are
not little adults in their emotional maturity and ability to understand and
process. In all the books that I have been reading, Sudbury and other
related ones, I haven't seen much about developmental stages. I know there
is not as much a need to be concerned with them since each individual
follows their own time line but it still seems to me that there are in fact
stages around cognitive development and moving into more abstract
understanding. So, I'm interested in the thinking about this for Sudbury

I am frustrated and once again feeling somewhat defensive at the
replies. I come here because so many of you have such a depth of real
experience with free democratic schools. I need to bounce my own evolving
understanding against that of folks who are ahead of me. In the past two
months I have read everything I can find online, have bought and read about
7 books from SVS and have been having long conversations. I am part of a
group wanting to start a new school and I am the primary person bringing
the ideas of a free school to people who have not yet gone there. But the
paradigm shift for me, although growing in me for a long time, is
relatively new and there are aspects of the paradigm I am still working to

I beg your patience. Please do not perceive my questions as
adversarial...I am not sniping at "your" schools, I am not challenging the
model, I am not a traditional person putting down these ideas. But I have
not yet lived them fully and I am still working to "get" the
edges. Perhaps the way I write comes off that way but I feel that many of
you assume something of me that I am not and it doesn't feel good. I feel
as if I am being put down even if, Joe, you didn't mean that I am misguided
when you talked of misguided adults.

Several of you wrote long replies about the benefits of playing video
games. Why? I agree with it all. I was asking about a specific point
around the graphic violence of some of them and how that might affect very
young children, specifically 5 to 7 year olds. What about my questions
triggered long lectures about any child playing any video game? That is
what is exasperating to me.

I asked those questions because I genuinely need to gain a new
understanding not because I am absolutely entrenched in my understanding to
date. I've brought all this up with my 18 year old and he basically agrees
with you all and we had a great conversation around it that was very
helpful. I realized that I have been thinking of some isolated incidents
that bothered me and perhaps generalizing too much and not taking into
account the supportive respectful climate of the sm schools that can then
deal with any negative feelings that arise. There was a time I was at an
elementary school where a 7 year old boy had said to a couple of 6 year old
girls, "Do you want to suck my cock?" The girls reported it and the boy
was brought to the office. It turned out that he had been exposed to hard
core pornographic movies at a babysitter's house. I got to thinking of all
that young children can and are exposed to these days that didn't used to
happen before videos, dvds, cable, etc. Young children are now exposed to
disturbing, graphic material that didn't used to be available and I wonder
if that has an impact we should think about...that is basically what I'm
trying to work through.

Of course that doesn't mean that we wait until they are 18 to bring up
anything. Of course children have to begin to wrestle with the hard issues
of the world and evolve their understanding as well. And in a supportive
respectful environment they can do this. I was worrying about the
environment most of these children are actually in which doesn't support
their process. But I'm realizing that is a separate issue.

I am curious if you think that children having the same rights and freedoms
as adults applies outside of school as well, or is there are any's hard for me to see from your answers so far that you thing
there are any. Are 5 to 7 year olds able to consent to sexual activity
with children older than their age mates? Say a 6 year old and an 11 year
old? Do any of you see any difference between what persons of any age may
choose to do? So is it okay for any age person to smoke, drink alcohol,
watch hard core porn, etc? I am deliberately going to the extreme because
it seems to me the answers I am getting keep saying that people of any age
know what is good for them and will choose accordingly and it isn't quite
making sense to me yet where there might be a line, if any.

Even given that I am asking this way, some of your answers are giving me
pause and I am beginning to shift here as well. Dan, thank you for the
book suggestion, I will get and read it. I apologize for any waste of time
in reinventing the wheel...the subject may keep coming up but it is
relatively new for me....I haven't been doing this for 35 years. I have
read many of your books now and while the freedom of learning aspect has
been wonderfully addressed I haven't had this issue addressed enough in
what I have read or I wouldn't be asking it now.

Also, Joe, I have heard enough 5 year olds asking about something they are
watching "Is this real" to wonder about their understanding of it. I have
focused my questions on young children because of the experiences I have
had there, buy my experience is not vast and may be skewed.

I want to be able to put my wonderings and curiosity and struggles with
this out there and be supported in my thought process but I am not sure
that can happen here based on my experience to date.

Thank you.

At 09:06 PM 5/14/2004 -0400, you wrote:
>I can't believe how this subject keeps coming up, despite being addressed
>eloquently each time it appears (this time included). Nine lives, I guess.
>At some point, I can't remember when, someone (I wish I could acknowledge
>the person by name) mentioned the book, "Killing Monsters: Why children
>NEED fantasy, super heroes, and make believe violence" by Gerard
>Jones. By coincidence, I am reading it now, and it is by far the finest,
>most comprehensive (one is tempted to say "definitive") exposition on the
>subject, from every conceivable angle, with lots of research data
>(including critiques of certain allegedly scientific studies) and
>anecdotal material. It is well written, and can calmly recommended to any
>person who wants to delve into the subject.
>It's a shame to keep reinventing the wheel. If this subject really
>interests you, I urge you to get hold of the book.
>Dan Greenberg
>Sudbury Valley School
Received on Sat May 15 2004 - 16:25:23 EDT

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