Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Encouragment.

From: Scott David Gray <>
Date: Sun Apr 3 17:53:01 2005

Language is a funny thing.

The phrase 'no encouragement allowed' is very strong, and a
little misleading in its tone.

I have expressed before the cultural norm for adults and
staff in Sudbury schools this way:

  I feel it to be rude or awkward for me to say or suggest
or advise a particular pursit *for the child's good.*

However, I certainly have casual, friendly personal
relations with students (just as I do with staff) in which I
might say 'oh you'd *love* this game' or 'I thought of you
when I was reading *this* book.'

The idea being that it is rude for me to think or act on any
ideas that *I* might know better for a person (of any age)
what is right for that person than s/he does. But I may
nonetheless have a reasonable desire to talk about something
with that person for *my* sake. There is an implied
disrespect in the former, but not the latter.

Of course, the line between these two behaviors is very
subtle. As I say, in practice this isn't something that
staff in Sudbury schools do *consciously* but rather it is
part of the *culture* and it would feel wrong to do

Let me give a case when one *wouldn't* suggest something to
another person. I don't walk up to people of *any* age and
sayor imply 'your life will be devoid of meaning if you
don't read this book.' Nor do I walk up to a person who I
don't know and say 'everyone is better off if s/he knows
algenbra.' That's not my place. And it is rude -- not just
at SVS but in any friendly company. Don't you hate people
who do taht to you (we've all met such people)?

On Sun, 3 Apr 2005, Todd Pratum wrote:

> 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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> Oakland, California 94610
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--Scott David Gray
reply to:
A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight
car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the
whole railroad.
-- Teddy Roosevelt
Received on Sun Apr 03 2005 - 16:47:54 EDT

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