[Discuss-sudbury-model] Re: Discuss-sudbury-model digest, Vol 1 #260 - 5 msgs

From: Khadija <ammaflre_at_yahoo.com>
Date: Thu Apr 7 16:48:00 2005

I have a daughter in a Sudbury School. thank goodness our school is not as fanatic as these posts I am reading. Honestly, you people make it sound as if the Sudbury model was a facist regime!!! I am not kidding - anything this severe is to be avoided in my book (I am a Muslim and believe me, extreme is not good!). People are people and although I believe that the model works and is useful, this extreme black and white view is dangerous. I am only saying this because I think that you all need to lighten up a bit. I was really shocked at reading the postings that talked about voting a staff member out if they did such and such which to me seemed hardly worth such a severe penalty. I am sorry to find such harsh ideas on this list...

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Today's Topics:

1. Re: What happened to Curiosity (Todd Pratum)
2. Re: Democracy Must be Experienced to be
Learned - student participation (David Rovner)
3. Re: What happened to Curiosity (JMMancasola_at_aol.com)
4. Re: What happened to Curiosity (David Rovner)

--__--__--

Message: 1
Date: Wed, 06 Apr 2005 23:11:50 -0700
From: Todd Pratum
To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] What happened to Curiosity
Reply-To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org

Dear Doug,

Glad to hear this about curiosity. But any cat lover will tell you how
dangerous that is! Seriously though, my life is dominated by
curiosity, that is why I got in the book business, so I could be around
all these great thoughts and ideas, so I could not agree with you more
on that point. But my take on what Sudbury people have said about
encouragement here is that you are not allowed to foster anything, not
even curiosity, because that would make the kids who are not curious
feel judged. And that encouraging kids to read, according to Sudbury
people here (some) makes illiterate kids feel inadequate. But it seems
to me that Sudbury people have put too much emphasis on this fear of
psychological damage. Yes, we want to protect them but we can also
throw the baby out with the bath water. I believe there are universal
values that need at least some kind of benign social pressure to keep
alive in our culture. It is clear to me now that this is not possible
at school according to Sudbury doctrine.

I should say that like Sudbury people, I too am deeply devoted to
protecting kids from invasive adults, especially those adults who are
so adept at sounding "helpful" and "supportive" (and who often think
they are helpful and supportive) but in reality are making an unfair
judgment and often times are driven by a deep seated psychological need
to put down the child. I see this all the time at the homeless
shelters where I teach, usually it comes from Christian people who work
there (or operate them). But we must as a civilization find some way
of collectively identifying universal cultural values to be encouraged,
fostered, and ennobled, while leaving a healthy degree of freedom for
the child (and adult) to choose, right? Or is Sudbury a kind of
educational libertarianism? (I note that Gatto is a libertarian).

I'd also like to say on a more personal note that when I was a kid I
got some encouragement that I am grateful for now. Of course I got all
kinds of crap from insincere people, but that doesn't negate the good
stuff I got. It seems that at Sudbury, in the interest of protecting
the child from the invasive judgmental society that we live in, they
are not willing to take a risk, (or maybe they never got any
encouragement when they were young?). I also recognize that at Sudbury
there is an egalitarian structure where nobody has the right to
"decide" what should be encouraged. So I ask SVS staff this: What if
it was proposed to the kids to vote on things they would like to be
encouraged at the school? What would happen? Inquiring minds want to
know.

Gratefully, Todd Pratum.

Doug wrote:

type="cite">
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 -->

Hi All;

I have been reading this list for several years and promised
myself that I would keep my big mouth shut. However, the recent
discussions have compelled me to jump in. Maybe I will find
time later to provide a brief intro.

SVS attracted my attention because of the focus on recognizing
children's natural curiosity. It happens to fit well with my
understand of the functions of the brain and also with my great
concern that traditional schooling is destroying curiosity.
Hunger drives us to eat to develop and nourish our internal
bodies. Curiosity drives us to acquire knowledge to understand
the external world in which we live.

What disturbs me is that in all of the discussions triggered by
Todd's post about encouragement, not one person has used the word
curiosity. I would have liked to seen a response to Todd such
as; Parents/Staff/Adults should do anything that stimulates, assists,
or support curiosity. Parents/Staff/Adults should do nothing
that inhibits, discourages, or interferes with curiosity.

The whole objective or goal should be to
foster curiosity and the joy of learning.

Democracy is the means not the goal. What is democracy in
a non philosophical real world sense? Political candidates are
laundered through the financial and special interest groups to make
sure they are politically correct and socially acceptable. And
then we get to chose between two or three pre selected puppets.

Does democracy not require that we accept the decision of the
majority? Are there provisions in democracy for us to opt out
when things don't go our way? It seems to me that people that
chose SVS or other private forms of schooling are opting out of the
democratic system. (Don't misinterpret my view point. If
my children were young, I would probably be doing the same
thing. But I would not be out preaching about democracy.)

At 10:50 AM +0200 6/4/05, David Rovner wrote:

I think it was
Winston Churchill who said, ~ "Democracy is an awfull system of
goverment -- but all the others are worse"

Maybe democracy is the best or only way to achieve the goal, but
accept that it is seriously flawed and in need of constant
revision.

There is little discussion on this list about how to foster
curiosity and far too much discussion about democracy. It seems
to me that many on this list are too preoccupied with and focused on
democracy and have lost sight of the goal. It is about the
children, not about how people manipulate or master their experiment
in democracy.

-- 
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
--__--__--
Message: 2
Date: Thu, 07 Apr 2005 11:01:39 +0200
From: David Rovner 
Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Democracy Must be Experienced to be
Learned - student participation
To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
Reply-To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
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Democracy Must be Experienced to be Learned 
[from, Three essays from Education in America, by Daniel Greenberg, http://www.sudval.org/05_onli_10.html ] 
There is much talk these days about the importance of teaching democratic values in our public schools. It appears that newspaper columnists, teachers' unions, public organizations, and other civic-minded persons have suddenly come to realize that our youth is growing up ignorant of, and uncommitted to, the great principles upon which our nation is based. Although I fully agree that a problem exists, I am afraid that the proposed cure - more classes on democracy - is no better than the disease. Why is it that people persist in thinking that the solution to real-life problems is talking about them? Does anyone really believe that subjecting children to yet another course will achieve really meaningful goals? We can't even get our kids to read or write or do arithmetic properly, despite endless hours of classroom effort. Are we going to make them into defenders of freedom by adjusting the curriculum once more? 
The simple fact is that children are not committed to democratic principles, or political freedom, or the bill of rights, because they themselves do not experience any of these lofty matters in their everyday lives, and in particular, in their schools. Children do not have rights in school, they do not participate in meaningful decision-making at school (even where the decisions directly affect their own lives), nor do they have the freedom of self-determination in school. In fact, the schools are models of autocracy - sometimes benevolent, sometimes cruel, but always in direct conflict with the principles on which our country is based. 
The way to ensure that people of any age will be deeply committed to the American Way is to make them full participants in it. Make our schools democratic, give our children freedom of choice and the basic rights of citizenship in the schools, and they will have no problem understanding what this country is about. 
----- Original Message ----- 
From: Jennifer Blair 
To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org 
Sent: Thursday, April 07, 2005 4:29 AM
Subject: [Discuss-sudbury-model] [Discuss-sudbury-model]student participation
A question...
I am wondering how new students at sudbury-model schools learn how they can participate in the schools democratic processes. Do any schools do a formal orientation or do they expect students will learn in the heat of it. I'm not talking about how their sense of agency develops... just the basics of the processes... how to make a motion, the voting process, get an item added to the agenda, etc.
Thanks,
Jennifer Blair
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Democracy Must be Experienced to be =
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[from, Three essays from Education in =
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by Daniel Greenberg, href=3D"http://www.sudval.org/05_onli_10.html">http://www.sudval.org/05_o=
nli_10.html ] 
 
          There is much talk =
these days=20
about the importance of teaching democratic values in our public =
schools. It=20
appears that newspaper columnists, teachers' unions, public =
organizations, and=20
other civic-minded persons have suddenly come to realize that our youth =
is=20
growing up ignorant of, and uncommitted to, the great principles upon =
which our=20
nation is based. Although I fully agree that a problem exists, I am =
afraid that=20
the proposed cure =97 more classes on democracy =97 is no better than =
the disease.=20
Why is it that people persist in thinking that the solution to real-life =
problems is talking about them? Does anyone really believe that =
subjecting=20
children to yet another course will achieve really meaningful goals? We =
can't=20
even get our kids to read or write or do arithmetic properly, despite =
endless=20
hours of classroom effort. Are we going to make them into defenders of =
freedom=20
by adjusting the curriculum once more? 
        =
 =20
The simple fact is that children are not committed to democratic =
principles, or=20
political freedom, or the bill of rights, because they themselves do not =
experience any of these lofty matters in their everyday lives, and in=20
particular, in their schools. Children do not have rights in school, =
they do not=20
participate in meaningful decision-making at school (even where the =
decisions=20
directly affect their own lives), nor do they have the freedom of=20
self-determination in school. In fact, the schools are models of =
autocracy =97=20
sometimes benevolent, sometimes cruel, but always in direct conflict =
with the=20
principles on which our country is based. 
      =
   =20
The way to ensure that people of any age will be deeply committed to the =
American Way is to make them full participants in it. Make our schools=20
democratic, give our children freedom of choice and the basic rights of=20
citizenship in the schools, and they will have no problem understanding =
what=20
this country is about. 
 
style=3D"PADDING-RIGHT: 0px; PADDING-LEFT: 5px; MARGIN-LEFT: 5px; =
BORDER-LEFT: #000000 2px solid; MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px">
----- Original Message ----- 
style=3D"BACKGROUND: #e4e4e4; FONT: 10pt arial; font-color: =
black">From:=20
Jennifer =
Blair=20
To: title=3Ddiscuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org=20
=
href=3D"mailto:discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org">discuss-sudbury-model_at_su=
dval.org=20
Sent: Thursday, April 07, 2005 =
4:29=20
AM
Subject: =
[Discuss-sudbury-model]=20
[Discuss-sudbury-model]student participation
/>
A question...
 
I am wondering how new students at sudbury-model schools learn =
how they=20
can participate in the schools democratic processes. Do any schools do =
a=20
formal orientation or do they expect students will learn in =
the heat=20
of it.  I'm not talking about how their sense of agency =
develops... just=20
the basics of the processes... how to make a motion, the voting  =
process,=20
get an item added to the agenda, etc.
 
Thanks,
Jennifer Blair
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Message: 3
From: JMMancasola_at_aol.com
Date: Thu, 7 Apr 2005 10:47:34 EDT
Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] What happened to Curiosity
To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
Reply-To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
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To whomever posted the "what happened to curiosity" - thank you. Thank you 
for the reminder that this is about the children and about preserving 
children's innate love for learning. If we are able to do that, all else falls in 
place. Molly Mancasola
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=3D"SANSSERIF" FACE=3D"Arial" LANG=3D"0">To whomever posted the "what happen=
ed to curiosity" - thank you.  Thank you for the reminder that this is=20=
about the children and about preserving children's innate love for learning.=
  If we are able to do that, all else falls in place.  Molly Manca=
sola
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--__--__--
Message: 4
Date: Thu, 07 Apr 2005 18:28:56 +0200
From: David Rovner 
Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] What happened to Curiosity
To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
Reply-To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
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Are we discovering the wheel again, Molly ?
~ David
----------------------------------
"For people who like to think through the important questions in life for themselves, Sudbury Valley stands as a challenge to the accepted answers. 
Intellectual basics 
The first phrase that pops into everyone's mind is: "We go to school to learn." That's the intellectual goal. It comes before all the others. So much so, that "getting an education" has come to mean "learning" -- a bit narrow, to be sure, but it gets the priorities clear. 
Then why don't people learn more in schools today? Why all the complaints? Why the seemingly limitless expenditures just to tread water, let alone to progress? 
The answer is embarrassingly simple. Schools today are institutions in which "learning" is taken to mean "being taught." You want people to learn? Teach them! You want them to learn more? Teach them more! And more! Work them harder. Drill them longer. 
But learning is a process you do, not a process that is done to you! That is true of everyone. It's basic. 
What makes people learn? Funny anyone should ask. Over two thousand years ago, Aristotle started his most important book with the universally accepted answer: "Human beings are naturally curious." Descartes put it slightly differently, also at the beginning of his major work: "I think, therefore I am." Learning, thinking, actively using your mind -- it's the essence of being human. It's natural. 
More so even than the great drives -- hunger, thirst, sex. When you're engrossed in something -- the key word is "engrossed" -- you forget about all the other drives until they overwhelm you. Even rats do that, as was shown a long time ago. 
Who would think of forcing people to eat, or drink, or have sex? (Of course, I'm not talking about people who have a specific disability that affects their drives; nor is anything I am writing here about education meant to apply to people who have specific mental impairments, which may need to be dealt with in special, clinical ways.) No one sticks people's faces in bowls of food, every hour on the hour, to be sure they'll eat; no one closets people with mates, eight periods a day, to make sure they'll couple. 
Does that sound ridiculous? How much more ridiculous is it, then, to try to force people to do that which above all else comes most naturally to them ! And everyone knows just how widespread this overpowering curiosity is. All books on child rearing go to great lengths to instruct parents on how to keep their little children out of things -- especially once they are mobile. We don't stand around pushing our one year olds to explore. On the contrary, we tear our hair out as they tear our house apart, we seek ways to harness them, imprison them in play pens. And the older they get, the more "mischief" they get into. Did you ever deal with a ten year old? A teenager? 
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Received on Thu Apr 07 2005 - 16:47:59 EDT

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