RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Encouragment.

From: R D Stanley <>
Date: Thu Apr 7 17:38:00 2005

Greetings listserv readers and contributors,


I am not sure how others may have experienced the most recent barrage of
postings and responses. I have found them overwhelming, confusing,
non-sensical, and yet sometimes they have sounded reasonable and thoughtful.


Admittedly, I have had to delete some, save others, and place in a holding
pattern other responses that simply must wait for a time when I can sit and
read them. But most of all, I feel compelled to respond to one of the more
thoughtful and sensible posts - thanks, Geert.


One of the things that has puzzled me as I've tried to describe to others
what kind of places democratic schools (like SVS) might be like is that I
(and indeed many others) describe them in terms of what they are not. My
sense is that descriptions of what people actually *do* possibly create a
very different sense of what such places might be like.


One thing that seems to follow (by describing place and things in terms of
what they are not) is that it sounds like NOTHING happens unless it comes
from an individual because things like coercion, seduction, education (both
words announce a kind of leading), encouragement, and so on. Such things are
either considered BAD or are considered quite simply to be unnecessary. It
seems to me that the world in its entirety coaxes us. And, human beings are
not above nor separate from the world. We are all connected and complicit in
this very interesting and messy context which is the world. And, I suppose,
depending upon these relations, unique people emerge in the world.


Now, admittedly, I am not certain exactly what Geert intended with the
statement "How are we supposed to think anyone will develop anything when
nothing is done anywhere?" Do be certain, the world is always and already
there. Thus, some kind of human being emerges. Indeed, the relation to one's
self is no different a relation to others. We are social beings - even with
and to ourselves. I educate myself; I led myself; I seduce myself; I coerce
myself. All of these apparently BAD things, we do to ourselves as well. But
more generally, the world in all that it is and shows itself to us acts in a
similar fashion. Thus, my own presence in the world, in a classroom, on the
street, etc., prompts others to act/respond (consciously or otherwise) in
particular ways - whether I say something or demand something. Call it


Geert's comments on this seeming paradox are interesting. But I think they
miss the point. If we think about the kind of rules, they describe, in a
collective way, what is possible in a proscriptive sense rather than a
prescriptive sense. On one hand, the proscriptive opens up a place for play
and creativity; on the other, the prescriptive demands that any kind of
possibility for action is highly limited to staying on track, keeping in
line, and following the already determined way to do anything.


I happen to think that the democratic education movement and schools like
SVS are great places, healthy places. I think some greater attention needs
to given to descriptions of what actually goes and not so much what is not
permitted. Truth is, a lot of things happen, but not simply because no one
person can tell another what he or she can or cannot do.


Nothing wrong with a little philosophy. Just thinking about things, however,
is not enough to understand what kind of place SVS is. Rather, what is the
lived-experience of such a place?


Let me ask, in a slightly different way, what Geert proposes here. What is
the nature of individual and collective interactions - which are necessary
on so many levels - that makes a school like SVS like it is and quite
different from other places.



Darren Stanley



[] On Behalf Of Geert Wester
Sent: Thursday, April 07, 2005 1:26 PM
Subject: RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Encouragment.


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?



(Holland Deventer)
Received on Thu Apr 07 2005 - 17:37:10 EDT

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