RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Encouragment.

From: Alan Klein <>
Date: Sun Apr 3 16:34:00 2005

I co-founded and taught at The Highland School, which is also a democratic
school, but which we started in 1981 before we found out about SVS. We had
the same reaction you did in 1985 when we discovered SVS!


I think I fall a bit outside of what is practiced at SVS itself. They tend
to be pretty strict constructionists in this area. My preference is to err
on the side of caution, make sure that my relationship with the particular
kid is sound, that the particular kid is not likely to be still caught up
with authority issues, that I am as clear as possible about my own
motivation in any encouragement I offer, and that I frame it as a clear
offer and not as an expectation or anything approaching a command. I want
the kids to know who I am and where I stand on things. I want them to have
the freedom to accept or reject my offers, as would anyone with whom I


~Alan Klein


-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of Todd Pratum
Sent: Sunday, April 03, 2005 4:07 PM
Subject: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Encouragment.


After 20+ years of studying educational theory, Holt, Steiner, Neill,
Montessori, Dewey et al, I am about to start a small school in Berkeley
California, housed inside my 12,000 library. I have read many Sudbury
books and I am deeply grateful for what I have learned about democratic
education from them, and education in general. I have bought many copies of
Sudbury books that I have given away to people and I continue to do this to
this day (I particularly like giving away copies of Education in America by
Daniel Greenberg, those short little essays are so cogent and clear!). I've
always known from the beginning that you must trust the child's and their
particular learning process, no matter how different or even
counterproductive it may seem, and when I first learned of the Sudbury model
(about 15 years ago) I was thrilled to find compatriots in arms!

Recently however I have learned from a person who knows Daniel Greenberg and
the other core faculty in Massachusetts, and has observed them in action
many times, something that I don't really understand. According to this
person, at Sudbury you are not allowed to encourage a child to do anything,
ever, (safety and health excepted). For example, as I understand it, you
are not allowed to encourage a child to study one thing over another, or do
one thing over another, but always let the child decide without any
influence from the staff whatsoever, even if you think you may have some
inside knowledge about the child and that that inside knowledge of yours
could help the child. I realize that the idea that adults know better than
children has been at the root of so much pedagogical abuse, but I did not
know, if true, that there is no encouragement allowed at all. Is this true?
If so, then I would like to know if this idea has been explained in writing
anywhere? I would like to hear from seasoned Sudbury people especially.
Thank you very much.
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Received on Sun Apr 03 2005 - 16:33:04 EDT

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