RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Newspaper Article Mountain Laurel Sudbury School

From: Don Yates <>
Date: Thu Jul 22 11:35:00 2004

Hi - I'm a bit late into this conversation but have been away for a couple
of weeks [only 949 emails in the box].

The fact is that someone from an old paradigm cannot judge a new paradigm
because they literally cannot see or experience it. If you have ever seen
the old woman/young woman optical illusion you can understand this
experientially. People who see one but not the other cannot believe that the
other exists. For me [based on the work of Thomas Kuhn] a paradigm is a set
of beliefs through which we see the world. That IS the world for us. When I
believe the earth is the center of the universe I cannot encompass the idea
that the sun might be.

From my experience and studies, I believe that one cannot hold two paradigms
at one time. If I believe the world is round I can no longer see it as flat.
I can talk to people who think it is flat because I was there [if I can see
both old and young woman I can talk to someone who only sees one - this is
not quite the same as changing paradigm. However, you cannot hold both
pictures in your mind at the same time]. They cannot understand what I am
talking about. If they could, they would see the world as round.

So in our case we all hold a completely different set of beliefs than
traditional education people. We believe children can learn on their own.
They believe they can't. Given that they cannot hold in their mind even the
possibility that a child could. The process we might set up so that a child
can learn on their own -- no classes, no curriculum, etc. -- are irrelevant.
They cannot even be considered under the set of beliefs through which they
view education - their paradigm. This means that engaging in a conversation
about processes is really futile. What we have to work on is changing the
underlying beliefs - the paradigm. I am trying to do this in the work world
around how organizations are designed and operated. I can tell you that it
is extremely difficult to even get people to talk about the underlying
beliefs much less change them.

Don Yates

"I once heard someone say that you should never let someone from the old
paradigm judge something of the new. In that case they were talking about
charter schools, which have contracts with traditional institutions and then
have to prove that they're doing a good job every few years---to their

I think we can always offer a new framework for thinking, but I'm not
surprised any more when others don't see it that way. Or at least I try not
to be. They often have a lot invested in the alternative; a career, a child
they've pushed through the current system, a sense that at least something
needs to stay stable in this messed-up world.

Karen Locke"
Received on Thu Jul 22 2004 - 11:34:27 EDT

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