Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Paradigms

From: Ann Ide <>
Date: Mon Aug 2 21:37:00 2004

I'm not going to put as much time into this post as Don seemed to (wow,
Don ); but I can't go without saying just a bit :) ( understanding the
structure of subjective experience, and how to change it , is my passion; so
I can't resist ).

My listening of what you're saying is that beliefs are embedded in just
about everything we say and do; and I agree. Are you also suggesting that
to change them we have to directly address them ? I think that by talking
about them even indirectly can create openings for change. For example,
asking parents the questions I suggested earlier does address their beliefs;
but not by asking " What do you believe about .....?" I just think that
could be too confronting. I share what I care about; and then the
conversation takes off. Know what I mean ?

Not that this would be appropriate in the context we've been talking about;
but I have worked with clients to facilitate belief change totally
metaphorically. One client, while in a relaxed, meditative state, imagined
fleas jumping from one dog onto another, as part of a story that developed
as we metaphorically explored his issue! ( That was a fun session.) Point
being, the change doesn't have to occur as directly as, to me, you seem to
be implying. In fact, sometimes, the less aware one is, the less resistance
there is.

I'm tired right now. Hope I made some kind of sense.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Don Yates" <>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, July 30, 2004 8:55 PM
Subject: RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Paradigms

> Hi all -
> Sorry it has taken me so long to respond. Still catching up from being
> and our 7th grandchild "arrived" Monday so that has taken our attention
> week.
> I appreciate all the great responses that my original message engendered.
> this message I want to respond to at least some of them, starting with
> Aredeshir's. I will put comments I have into messages cutting out the
> of the message not to take up too much space or time.:
> From Ardeshir Mehta
> But does this mean that we Sudburyists, too, may be susceptible to this
> tendency?
> **We are all susceptible to the tendency. We live in relation to our
> because they define our world. Unfortunately, most of the time we are
> aware of our beliefs or pay attention to them. We just know that others
> disagree with us and wonder why.
> Cheers.
> Ardeshir <>
> Karen Locke
> >
> >> "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 competition!
> ** Actually they really can't judge it because they can't see it. They
> they do, but they don't. Just like someone who sees the young lady saying
> that the old lady is an old hag. How do they know? They are just working
> from their belief that old lady's usually are hags.
> >>
> >> 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.
> **The question is how do we state that framework. If you look at all the
> letters about explaining SVS you will see that most have to do with what
> goes on, not why, or what beliefs underlie behaviors. You are right not to
> be surprised. All the folks who like the present education hold pretty
> the same beliefs so they are all going to react the same way. And they do
> have a lot invested in them, even though they may not even know they hold
> them. My world is my world and don't you try to tell me it is any
> by questioning my actions.
> >
> > Karen Locke"
> From David Rovner
> Does this mean there is no *objective* "good" or "evil", Don ?
> ~ David
> ** Yes. Both good and evil are beliefs and your understanding of them or
> beliefs about them are different from mine. Kuhn raised the question of
> whether scientists are searching for the final answer - something that is
> objective - or just uncovering layer after layer of the way our world
> He concluded there is no real end to be reached. Researching good or evil
> would be just exploring what they mean and what they are to different
> trying to find one right answer. I don't believe there is one right answer
> so no, there is no "objective" meaning. One of my professors said that he
> has to take into account that when he is lecturing 20 students he actually
> giving 20 different lectures.
> From Carol Hughes
> After the story of the chess player these words.
> What never ceases to amaze me is how infrequently parents begin to make
> observations about their child's ability to embrace ideas, situations, and
> opportunities. Can anyone tell me why so few parents see what was so
> clearly obvious to me in my children at a very young age? I am not a
> genius. I am creative and intelligent. The mystery for me is that so
> creative and intelligent people cannot step back for a couple of minutes
> watch their children "happen". It is strange that so few parents cannot
> the center of their own children. Carry on as people might, I have never
> heard enough of a reason for this to be so. My own background was as
> and horrid as they come. So that ole saw doesn't work.
> When a little toddler is hungry, we feed them. The hungry soul is just as
> obvious.
> **They don't look because their view of the world does not allow them to
> question what they see and how they interpret it. They can't see what you
> see because you hold different beliefs about children and what they can
> "should" do. Kuhn describes an experiment in which people are shown a deck
> of cards one card at a time in which the spades are red and the hearts
> black. People could not see this until the cards were displayed very
> one at a time. They believed spades are black and hearts red so that is
> they saw. If I think a child does not have the ability to "embrace ideas",
> will not see her doing so. They do not believe a soul can be hungry, if
> believe in the soul at all.
> From Ann Ide
> Back to changing paradigms..... I guess Don must have said it more
> but I was trying to say the same thing. I also think it would be helpful
> put less focus on the process of how kids learn at Sudbury Valley; and to
> talk more about the underlying beliefs of the philosophy.
> ** I agree. What do you think would happen if you started by asking
> what they believed about kids abilities and what school is for? At least
> would let you know what you are up against. That is the problem with
> about change first. Changing processes can only come after changing
> Even freedom is one of the means to fulfilling what we believe is
> important for our kids.
> ** Because we believe in freedom and believe kids can operate, even thrive
> with freedom we are able to at least test that belief or live by it. If
> believe kids will go nuts with freedom, you won't test that belief. My
> beliefs are "right". That is the way the world is and don't try to change
> the world - or my world.
> ( What we believe about our kids is important, too, in terms of how it's
> possible to trust them to learn what they need.) It's tricky to
> them apart; because we say we believe in freedom and the kids' rights to
> choose, etc. Yes, we believe in children's' rights; but even deeper than
> that, why do we send our children to free schools ? What kinds of adults
> we hope they will be able to develop into by having their freedom ?
> **These last two questions are really asking what we believe about these
> subjects. What does our world think about them and act in relation to
> beliefs.
> Seems when we talk about how the kids can do whatever they want,
> ** I agree
> it is a huge distraction from talking about what else is really
> **Yes. We have a hard time separating process from the belief(s) that lies
> behind it.
> People need to understand why it makes sense first, don't you think ?
> ** Yes, and I think it is our beliefs that determine what "makes sense".
> When we slur them together, it's too much. We humans seem to have this
> need that things make sense and have some sense of order that we
> **Unfortunately, most people are unaware of the beliefs they hold that
> determine what makes sense.
> Beliefs provide that underlying, often unconscious structure; hence why
> are so hard to change ( at least, this is my belief ! ). In order to
> a belief, it needs to take care of that same need and take care of what is
> important to the person.
> **The problem is that we can't change a belief until we see it and see why
> we hold it. Remember the story of the woman who always cut the end off the
> ham before cooking. She believed that was the way you do it because that
> what her mother did [often our beliefs come from seeing or modeling what a
> valued person does.] She was able to change her belief when she found out
> that her mother did this because her pan was too small. She saw the belief
> and saw it made no sense when she saw how she had built it.
> From Jeff Collins
> I believe that you have it right, although I also believe that explaining
> the philosophy from the angle of freedom may be harder than necessary. I
> think it is difficult, not because it is wrong, but because of the
> associated with the word 'free'. When most parents (who are your real
> audience) hear the word 'freedom' for their children, the first thing they
> think about is "Lord of the Flies". By and large our culture has 'taught'
> us that children should not be free until they reach adulthood.
> **This is a good example of how people have learned a certain belief. The
> baggage is what they believe about the word and concept of "free."
> The belief behind thinking children should not be free is something like
> "Children are not able to handle freedom, which is just another word for
> chaos or anarchy."
> When we (Hudson Valley Sudbury School) do our information meetings, we
> the conversation from the angle of 'responsibility'. We say we provide a
> place where the students are responsible for their education, for their
> environment, the culture they create and ultimately their lives - a
> laboratory where they can practice being responsible.
> Responsibility and freedom are two sides of the same coin, it is just that
> the 'listening' for the word responsibility is better than it is for the
> word 'freedom'.
> ** What would happen if you first talked about what you believe about
> responsibility and what it is. Or better still what would happen if you
> asked them first what they believe about responsibility. If their beliefs
> are the same or similar to yours you can make a connection, letting them
> that you are both starting from the same point. Then you can go on to
> beliefs about how you can live out responsibility and so on.
> ** If they believe differently, then you can have a discussion about that
> before going on to actions. If you cannot connect at the belief level you
> will never connect at the action level.
> From Sally Rosloff
> College means the best chance at a good job and material success and
> therefore happiness, and parents want to see their kids happy. Parents
> statistics all the time on the more education (meaning the more degrees),
> the more money you make.
> The parents job is to raise their children to be responsible adults, which
> is accomplished by making sure they follow all the rules of the
> system.
> The school's job is to teach academics, leave character development
> (compassion, cooperation, kindness, thoughtfulness, confidence, etc.) to
> the parent.
> To be successful (earn a good living) you need skills and training which
> get through being taught in school and college.
> People do not ask what kind of human being your child is because that is
> seen as outside the job of schools, that is something developed in the
> and church and community, etc. and at school only as a byproduct of
> extracurricular activities if at all. Different groups have different
> about how human beings should be but may agree on what teaching academics
> is.
> All of the above are in line with the discussion on paradigms because
> answers arise from one paradigm while our answers arise from another.
> is why Ron Miller talks about need for transformation rather than reform.
> **Just look at how many beliefs are hidden in these statements. These are
> what is "right" according to what they see as reality in the world - that
> reality being what they believe on all these points.
> From Carol Hughes
> I of course know the paradigm - every word of it. I am seeking a little
> balance in the way that one finds a good career and is set for their whole
> life. College is not enough and not the right and only thing. It is the
> implicit message that one needs teachers and a curriculum to be "set". I
> heartily disagree. Just my point of view.
> **Every word of "your" paradigm not necessarily others. What is a "good
> career" or "set for life" ? What we believe about those things. Your good
> career may not - or probably not - be the same as mine. Your point of view
> is your belief set. This is not to say that you are "wrong", just that you
> believe differently. Even what is balance is a belief.
> From Harlan Underhill
> << When we (Hudson Valley Sudbury School) do our information meetings, we
> start the conversation from the angle of 'responsibility'. We say we
> provide a place where the students are responsible for their education,
> for their environment, the culture they create and ultimately their
> lives - a laboratory where they can practice being responsible.
> Responsibility and freedom are two sides of the same coin, it is just
> that the 'listening' for the word responsibility is better than it is
> for the word 'freedom'. >>
> ** Again you are explaining what you do about responsibility and freedom,
> not your beliefs about them or those of your listener. You are also saying
> that one belief generates more response than another. Maybe, but the
> responses are both coming from the same place, their beliefs about those
> constructs. People can hold one belief more strongly - or be more certain
> about it - which probably leads to stronger reactions.
> From Ann Ide
> That's the conventional paradigm, all right. So, how can we address those
> concerns without challenging them in such a way that it only brings out
> defenses ? What examples and information do we know to counterpoint ? Do
> we have "successful" graduates ? It would be really helpful to be able to
> share those stories. Do we have different statistics ? The more informed
> we are the better we'll be able to educate others effectively.; don't you
> think?
> ** I still think you have to get to the underlying beliefs. They won't
> your information the same way you say it because they believe that
> "successful" means something different than you do. The more informed you
> are about your beliefs and your world view the better you will be able to
> hear and see theirs. Then you can have a useful discussion if you can
> them out without engendering resistance and defensiveness. Ah - if you can
> only do that. And that is a matter of trial and error - i.e. learning.
> Who do people think are responsible for development of social skills,
> critical thinking skills, communication skills, creativity, self
> and responsibility, ability to work independently and with teams......?
> It takes more than academics and good character to succeed in the world.
> How about we get people thinking about the importance of these traits and
> how it is lacking in public schools and nurtured in Sudbury models ?
> **All statements of your beliefs without stating that they are beliefs.
> Actually, I recall our old public school even having curriculum for
> character development and some of the skills I mentioned. But they would
> "teach" them so artificially ! They had kids sitting around in a circle
> being asked questions or put through exercises totally bored. You can't
> schedule training for these things into a 1/2 hour slot once a week !
> **What you believe is artificial they believe is the only way to get it
> across. So ask them why they believe it is the right way. Then you can
> with them to at least see your belief about what constitutes the "right
> way."
> It's so interesting to watch the difference between my sons' play with SVS
> vs. public school friends. With their public school friends, I see they
> have one or two things they have in common that they like to do together.
> When they tire of that, they start with the "What do you want to do? " "
> don't know. What do you want to do?" And it falls apart. I never see
> that with their SVS friends. There is always a beautiful flow of
> conversation and/or activity. They could just go on forever; as they
> do with ongoing "sleepovers". Have others seen this ? Oh, and another
> that really bugs me ! In our area, public school kids schedule
> and they only have one friend over at a time so it will "work" ! AH
> !!!!!!!!! If Jesse calls his friend and s/he already has a friend over,
> s/he actually says he can't come over. How pathetic. With SVS friends,
> more the merrier. I can just see these kids as adults in the workplace,
> waiting to be told what to do ( and hoping it's not much ); or in a
> going "What should we do? " " I don't know. What do you think?" And
> they be allowed to only work with one person at time ??? Someone should
> make a movie showing the crossover from public school behaviors and
> activities into the typical, ineffective workplace.
> **They have been taught what to believe by hearing what their parents or
> their bosses believe about what a child or a worker is supposed or is able
> to do. We don't make up these beliefs on our own. And until we see what we
> believe we cannot change them. I spent time in a 10 week program that was
> all about changing our life through understanding our beliefs and what
> were doing or not doing for us. It was sometimes amazing when we saw where
> we got our belief and that it was not serving any useful purpose and was
> just leading us to feel bad about ourselves or do things that were not
> really useful for us. When we saw them we now had a choice whether to hang
> on to them or drop them, leading to behavioral change.
> Well, I will get off my soap box now. Again, I really appreciate all the
> responses. I thought they were all thoughtful and make it possible for all
> of us, definitely including me, to learn more about what we believe and
> to work with others who do not believe as we do.
> Thank you, and
> Be Well
> Don
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Received on Mon Aug 02 2004 - 21:36:17 EDT

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