Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Encouragment.

From: Tom Hall <>
Date: Mon Apr 4 07:58:00 2005

This is one of those instances where subtle institutionalized coercion
does exist at SVS. No one "says" anything about reading, but activities
are posted by written notice, and many activities require one to read
and sign that one understands something.

This creates a difficult situation for non reading students, especially
the youngest. No one who knows what is going on there will offer
anything to them unless they ask. For many activities one would not
know to ask unless one knows that the possibility for such an activity
exists. A person that comes from an environment where they are freely
apprised of the opportunities that are available to them (say, an
unschooled child) would have a difficult time understanding the
reasoning behind this attitude.

At the same time, things that are going on are routinely posted where
people who can read can find out about them, without having to ask.


On Apr 3, 2005, at 6:58 PM, Lisa Crocker wrote:

> Todd,
> I recall reading of this in Greenberg's Free at Last, but
> unfortunately, I just loaned to one of my prospective teachers for our
> new school, so I cannot pull it out and find the passage...if you have
> a copy, you may find it by perusing the chapter titles.  Good luck -
> and I do recall reading that and it stuck with me - a definite mention
> that no suggestions of any kind are made to the students, although I
> remember it being in an academic arena, not any other...a specific
> example he used was the reading issue, it was never suggested that a
> child should read, would enjoy reading, might be able to find things
> out if he could read, etc.
> Lisa in Vermont
> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> [] On Behalf Of Todd
> Pratum
> Sent: Sunday, April 03, 2005 5:41 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Encouragment.
> Scott, thank you for this.  I am talking about something more subtle
> than  "your life will be devoid of meaning if you don't read this
> book"  And as you say in your penultimate paragraph it IS more subtle
> than that.  But this may answer my question, you are saying it is NOT
> doctrine (i.e. not prohibited) to encourage a child, but never if the
> reason behind your encouragement is "for his/her own good", is that
> correct?  Please clarify.  Or maybe there is no stated doctrine on
> this subject at all?  And I'm wondering, do you know any place where
> this Sudbury position is elucidated in writing, maybe one of
> Greenberg's books?  Or?  Thank you so much for your time in this. 
> Todd Pratum.
> Scott David Gray wrote:
> 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
> otherwise.
> 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. 
> --
> Antiquarian & Scholarly Books
> 627 Vernon Street
> Oakland, California 94610
> Tel. 510.655.1281 Fax. 510.653.8694
> Books Bought -- Catalogues Issued
> _______________________________________________ Discuss-sudbury-model
> mailing list
> --
> Antiquarian & Scholarly Books
> 627 Vernon Street
> Oakland, California 94610
> Tel. 510.655.1281 Fax. 510.653.8694
> Books Bought -- Catalogues Issued
> _______________________________________________ Discuss-sudbury-model
> mailing list
Tom Hall
Received on Mon Apr 04 2005 - 07:57:27 EDT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0 : Mon Jun 04 2007 - 00:03:11 EDT