Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Encouragment.

From: Todd Pratum <>
Date: Mon Apr 4 18:26:01 2005
Dear Alan, you wrote "I think I fall a bit outside of what is practiced at SVS itself. They tend to be pretty strict constructionists in this area..."  What do you mean by constructionists?  This is not a term used in philosophy, psychology, or education. 

The reason I am wondering is because I am looking for any historical background to this idea of not encouraging kids in anyway.  Of course the idea has appeared at times in the past with individual discoveries, but as far as I can find it has never been codified, defined, or discussed at length in academic or cultural institutions.

And by extension, does this mean that Sudbury holds no educational thinkers or education systems in high regard?

I'd also like to thank you for your previous posts, I found them, of all the postings, the most clearly stated and the most to the point of what I am asking about and for that I am grateful.
 Thank you!  Todd Pratum.

Alan Klein wrote:

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 interact.


~Alan Klein


-----Original Message-----
From: [] 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 any
where?  I would like to hear from seasoned Sudbury people especially.  Thank you very much.
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Received on Mon Apr 04 2005 - 18:25:30 EDT

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