Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Socrates

From: Todd Pratum <>
Date: Wed Apr 6 23:20:00 2005

Dear Marc,
  Thank you. I will be thinking about your "Rugby" idea. But I am in
shock from all the email on this Sudbury forum, and my opinion of
Sudbury has really sunk. It will take me awhile to process it all. I
also wanted to discuss other difficult subjects, such as sex, religion,
violence, etc (in their relation to schooling), but,... well I'm afraid
to say anything anymore now! Todd Pratum. (P.S. I'm also on the AERO
forum and people there don't write like they know everything there is to
know about children, education and democracy, they are more open minded
and more interested in new ideas).

Marc Kivel wrote:

>BTW, Todd, I found your comments on Popper wonderful
>and I have noticed the joy with which learners devour
>White's "The Once and Future King." I'd also note
>that democracy need not be all or nothing - A.S.
>Neill's Sumerhill did not allow learners democracy in
>all decisions as Neill himself points out in his book.
>Perhaps we should also consider how we might create a
>Rugby School version of Sudbury? An umbrella "school"
>run by a democratic Assembly with chartered Houses
>using various governance mixes dedicated to particular
>learning approaches and varying levels of adult
>encouragement. All learners might belong to the
>school but would then also choose a House to pursue
>their interests....
>Any dreamers want to tackle this one with me? smiling
>--- Todd Pratum <> wrote:
>"I haven't read Popper yet. Is there a simple way to
>summarize his arguments?
>OK, here is my take on Popper:
>Scott David Gray puts forward, in a muscular way, the
>Aristotelian viewas opposed to the Platonist view, as
>Popper does (I have read bothPopper's The Open Society
>and its Enemies, and the primary workof his chief
>critic, G. J. deVries' Antisthenes
>Redivivus,(Amsterdam 1952). As many of you must know,
>much of this argument,(that of democracy versus
>kingship), is well mirrored in the lives ofPlato and
>Aristotle, and Popper explored this in a very
>comprehensiveway, but from an oppositional point of
>view. You could, if needed,boil it all down to this:
>Whether you believe that some people insociety are
>more advanced than others, (either
>intellectually,culturally, or psychologically for
>example), and thatthere are fair ways that can be
>found in society and culture toidentify them from the
>Some historians, for example the great religious
>scholar Huston Smith,would say that there are ways to
>do this but that they have been lostfor the most part.
> In any case, the rape and ruin that has been
>raineddown upon mankind by royalty, dictators, and
>power grabbers has led tothe modernist belief--first
>put into action in modern times during theFrench
>Revolution--that there are no "superior" people, and
>if thereare, there is no workable way to put them in
>places of power, and evenif there was a way, it
>eventually leads to corruption, and that theonly hope
>for mankind is democracy. Plato tried to codify a way
>tomake it possible to avoid these pitfalls (see
>especially TheRepublic, but the Thomas Taylor
>translation, or perhaps Jowett's,not translations by
>his critics if you want the other perspective for
>achange), and thus to make available to society the
>great benefits ofhaving great leaders in charge, wise
>kings. He saw this as man'sgreatest engine for
>evolution. In my view the best way to understandthis
>philosophy is to read about King Arthur and his
>Galahad Quest, (itis interesting to note that kids
>love this story, the story of a wiseking who rules the
>land with grace and respect!). (A good simpleversion
>for those who don't have time to plow through the
>completeArthurian corpus is T. H. White's The Once and
>Future King,cheap on the internet at
>I suspect there is not a single Platonist on this
>Sudbury list, andthere will be those who wonder how
>can somebody like myself talk ofdemocratic education
>while being a Platonist, (answer: authenticdemocracy
>really is our only hope right now in education).
>Iwould also like to plead patience and open mindedness
>when thinking ofideas that contradict your dominant
>paradigm. When the modern dominantparadigm is
>democracy, it is easy to defend it when you are in
>themajority, but when you are in the minority, it is
>not so easy!
>But this is all so interesting, and I am glad to meet
>online somepeople like Scott who have spent time
>trying to understand the roots ofour civilization.
>One of the most fascinating books on the subject
>isJulius Evola's Revolt Against the Modern World. If
>you haveonly read the defenders of democracy (like
>Popper), then I wouldsuggest this defense of Plato,
>very well written and quite edifying. The subject is
>of course vast and I have only outlined it a tiny bit,
>from my own limited perspective! Todd Pratum.
>Scott David Gray wrote:
>On Tue, 5 Apr 2005, Woty wrote:
>On Apr 5, 2005, at 11:04, Scott David Gray wrote:
>The Socratic Method? Do people actually think that
>thisshowed any sincere respect for the 'student?'
>Certainly it doesn't as practiced now.Popper argues in
>_The Open Society and Its Enemies_ that Socrates
>genuinely respected young people and thought of them
>as friends, but that Plato misrepresented him in later
>works. He argues that Socrates was not authoritarian
>but that Plato was. I haven't studied the period much,
>so I don't know how credible this line of argument is.
>Several writers besides Plato spoke about Socrates.
>Thehumorist, Aristophanes, shows his understanding of
>Socrates(as an arrogant buffoon) in 'the Clouds.'
>Plato was perhaps the most sycophantic.The most
>balanced picture (in my opinion) comes fromXenophon --
>a man who counted himself a friend, but a friendwho
>was critical of Sorcates' lifestyle and opinions.
>That's why I suggested Xenophon as a source.But you're
>absolutely right to draw a distinction betweenPlato
>and Socrates. Plato was to Socrates as Paul was
>toJesus of Nazareth... One popularized the other, and
>eachstressed his own particular spin and opinions in
>doing so.
>Have you read _Open Society_? If so, do you have an
>opinion on the arguments Popper raises?
>I haven't read Popper yet. Is there a simple way to
>summarize his arguments?
>-- TODD LEIF PRATUM. Est.1981Antiquarian & Scholarly
>Books627 Vernon StreetOakland, California 94610Tel.
>510.655.1281 Fax. 510.653.8694Books Bought --
>Catalogues Issued
>Discuss-sudbury-model mailing list

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Received on Wed Apr 06 2005 - 23:19:16 EDT

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