Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Encouragment.

From: David Rovner <rovners_at_netvision.net.il>
Date: Wed Apr 6 07:05:01 2005

Message

"I would like to write briefly about a subject that is almost never mentioned in Sudbury Valley publications . . ."

[. . .]

"The structure of Sudbury Valley provides the foundation for a second aspect of the school that we usually don't say much about, but which is nevertheless one of the school's major features: creating and maintaining a nurturing environment in which children feel that they are cared for . . ."

[. . .]

"Fourth, schools in our culture are not expected to provide a congenial environment for internal growth. Their primary purpose is to impart skills and knowledge and to prepare the young for a successful career. At Sudbury Valley, we want a place that does not rob children of their time to explore and discover their inner selves. So we have focussed in our writings on the reality of the existing schools, and talked about rights and freedom to do what you want with your time, and we did not talk about more elusive emotional matters which nonetheles occupied a major part of our day-to-day time and energy.

"The ever-changing realm of personal growth is too intangible and ephemeral to grasp with scientific precision. Like the beauty of nature, it is evanescent and transitory. Artists endeavor to capture the moment and immortalize it, but art at its pinnacle is a poor approximation of what nature can do. Because we can't quantify an experience we often seem to underestimate its importance. In our industrial-technological era, we measure everything and reduce all complexities to computerized data sheets. But life as it flows will not be measured without losing its meaning. The same is true with the children at our school who don't come to take classes, but who come to live their lives, to explore nature, themselves and our culture. They experiment, observe, analyze and dream. They grow, mature and get themselves ready for adulthood. But the how and what and why is each person's private affair and we do not impinge on it in order to evaluate it. So we cannot really explore or analyze or lay out for all to see what I think is the most important aspect of our school. We cannot even begin to describe the way we nurture the growth; support the kids when they feel lost or floundering; reassure them and teach them that we believe in them and that they can do anything they want to if they work hard at achieving their goals.

"Sudbury Valley is a complex community. Its objectives and structure are clearly delineated and articulated. But what makes it all work is intangible and mysterious. It is made up of many small actions, that together form a living and ever-changing educational institution. It is a place where the students can learn how to be themselves -- with self-knowledge, with confidence, and with joy, strengthened by the knowledge that the adults around them are committed to nurturing their growth."

[fragments of, "The Silent Factor," by Hanna Greenberg, The Sudbury Valley School Experience.]

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

What Lisa Crocker refered to is, "The Other 'R's," Free at Last -- The Sudbury Valley School, by Daniel Greenberg.

~ David

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Lisa Crocker
  To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
  Sent: Monday, April 04, 2005 1:22 AM
  Subject: RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Encouragment.

  Hi Todd,
  Alas, we are a yet-to-be school, still in the planning stages! We are located in Chester, Vermont.
    -----Original Message-----
    From: discuss-sudbury-model-admin_at_sudval.org [mailto:discuss-sudbury-model-admin_at_sudval.org] On Behalf Of Todd Pratum
    Sent: Sunday, April 03, 2005 6:04 PM
    To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
    Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Encouragment.

    Very interesting! I have the book and am looking at it now. Thank you very much Lisa! What is your school? (Web site?) Todd.

    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: discuss-sudbury-model-admin_at_sudval.org [mailto:discuss-sudbury-model-admin_at_sudval.org] On Behalf Of Todd Pratum
        Sent: Sunday, April 03, 2005 5:41 PM
        To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
        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.

 --
TODD LEIF PRATUM. Est.1981
Antiquarian & Scholarly Books
627 Vernon Street
Oakland, California 94610
Tel. 510.655.1281 Fax. 510.653.8694
Books Bought -- Catalogues Issued
Received on Wed Apr 06 2005 - 07:04:12 EDT

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