Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Encouragment.

From: Jeff Collins <>
Date: Thu Apr 7 17:18:00 2005

Geert Wester wrote:

> Dear Jennifer,
> Somewhere I heard the story that one scholar wanted to know what
> language a child would develop when left completely alone and without
> anyone speaking to him/her. They found out that the child did not
> learn to speak any language at all (and as a side-effect turned idiot).
> How are we supposed to think anyone will develop anything when nothing
> is done anywhere? When doing anything seems a sin against a rule of
> "thou shallt not encourage".
> I think doing things and proposing things (actions, developments) to a
> child is vital for society and is absolutely normal. And at the same
> time is the opposite of imposing yourself on anyone else. (sorry for
> the language, this is not my native tongue).
> When are we ready to aknowledge that it is only we ourselves who are
> struggeling with freedom?
> Geert
> (Holland Deventer)

I am probably going to regret wading into this discussion, but I can't
hold back any more...

I really don't think any Sudbury School locks its students in a box and
eliminates outside interaction. The story you are speaking about is
basically what was done to this child.

Using language as an example - and it is a very good example - did
anyone have to "encourage" you to learn your native language? Did they
stand over you and say, time to learn to speak, let's start with the
'aah' sound. I would bet that you learned to speak the same way almost
all the rest of the developmentally normal humans learned to speak - by
hearing the spoken language and wanting to be able to communicate and
grow and then speaking it and making mistakes and seeing your mistakes
and then correcting them until you became able to communicate effectively.

Sudbury is *not* about putting a box around someone. It is *not* about
isolating a student in their own world. It *is* about creating a place
for them to pursue their own interests in their own way in their own
time *without* interference.

Do we encourage people? Yes, absolutely - when encourage is defined as
"to give support to" (see Websters). However, we do *not* feel the need
to direct students. In fact we feel strongly that any attempt to direct
a student circumvents and eventually kills any natural curiosity (there
is a use of the word for one of the previous writers).

So do we encourage students by giving them support? Yes, it is our
job. Do we 'encourage' (meaning 'direct' or 'impose a curriculum on')
them to do what we think is important? No. If you want that, there are
a bazillion other public and private schools that offer this.


Jeff Collins
Hudson Valley Sudbury School
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Received on Thu Apr 07 2005 - 17:17:47 EDT

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