Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] variations on the model in practice

From: Richard Berlin <>
Date: Wed Apr 6 19:53:01 2005

> Yes, Rich, it sure does - if I can find time I shall have to find the
> newsweek article of which I speak....because of course my sense is
> that the
> AAP is always quite conservative in their opinions, and so this
> particular
> statement likely does not accurately reflect the information found in
> the
> study.

That's interesting. I don't think the AAP is consistently
conservative--at least if I understand how you're using the term. (As
the husband of a Bradley childbirth instructor, I frequently research
prenatal and pediatric topics, by the way, reading the original
research papers whenever feasible.)

For example, the AAP recommendation on breastfeeding is a very long way
from the norm:

     six months of exclusive nursing
     nursing for at least a year
     continuing the nursing relationship for as long as it is
         mutually desired by mother and child
     mother and infant sleeping in proximity

I could go on, but you ought to get the idea--unless you are surrounded
by "attachment parents" these practices are well outside the norm. The
AAP recommendations are medically safe, but they are socially somewhat
controversial. So I would say that in this case the AAP is clearly
*leading* the pack rather than following it, and not worrying about
rocking the boat a little. Unless, as I said earlier, I'm
misconstruing what you mean by conservative....

Interestingly--and this brings us back to the original topic of
discussion, I hope--the AAP is on a push to encourage evidence-based
medicine. For a definition, see

The basic idea is that intuition, anecdotal evidence and
unsubstantiated theoretical models are insufficient grounds for making
clinical decisions (especially clinical *policy* decisions, I would
think). In essence, the AAP is trying to teach its membership to seek
out, understand and weigh all available evidence, rather than tuning
out information that conflicts with what they already believe and
basing their actions on the one-sided picture that results.

It seems to me that by your own admission you are not listening to all
the evidence...

> ..anyway, I guess we can be convinced of anything by others' "real"
> information and true experience, we still end up relying on what our
> heart
> (and head!) says to us is true, at least for us. So it is for me with
> television and video games, and I emphasize that I am talking about
> young
> children here, not pre-teens and older.

...and that is why I earlier claimed a sacrifice of credibility.
(Credibility with me, anyway.) You are knowingly ignoring evidence
that doesn't fit your presupposed conclusion and acting as if there's
nothing wrong with that.

For the record, I think that television causes many problems. (In our
house I am pretty sure it contributes to obesity, for example.) But
the scientific evidence is mixed, not one-sided. Because some of it
points clearly to the quality of the content--not the mere act of
watching a box with flashing pictures--and because many of the studies
are able to show CORRELATION but not CAUSATION, it is simplistic,
fallacious, and disingenuous to claim that television is "bad for the
brain" or "contributes to attention disorders" as you asserted

By all means, start without a TV. But if you prohibit it a priori, I'm
guessing that eventually one of your delightfully intelligent,
confident students--who has taught herself how to read, use Google, and
possibly even evaluate the design of scientific studies--will wave a
ream of evidence overhead as she argues at School Meeting or Assembly
that you've made an arbitrary, nonsensical restriction.

That would mark a success in Sudbury model education, wouldn't it?


-- Rich
Received on Wed Apr 06 2005 - 19:52:55 EDT

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