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

From: Todd Pratum <>
Date: Fri Apr 8 01:06:01 2005
Dear Karen,
  I agree that we should let kids decide, for the most part, what THEY think is good for them.  But TV is--according to many experts and many with common sense--a unique and complicated situation.  Can children decide what food is best for them?  (Doritos vs apples?)  What about nudity and touching?  Can children pick out good quality furniture as opposed to cheap poorly made furniture?  Can they tell what adults will respect them and what adults will abuse them?  TV looks simple but it is very complicated, way too complicated for a child to understand. Yes, we all grew up with it, but what kind of people would we be if instead of watching TV when we were kids, instead we did something else like play in the woods or daydreamed?  How does TV effect our imagination?  These are the questions many forward thinking people are asking.  Todd Pratum.

Karen Locke wrote:

Hello all,

I am at the beginning phases of starting a democratic school, that will start as a homeschool group meeting three days week. 

I have some experience in this area.  About 10 years ago I started a group like this.  We had up to 20 kids and their parents involved, and we met 3 days per week.

I had a not so great experience.  The parents, once they saw their children playing (and not, in their view, learning) began to lobby for "educational" experiences.  They started bring in activities themselves, planning lots of things, and eventually they made a counter-offer to the church we were renting and had a "school" the next year that was totally scheduled by adults.  (that actually happened twice-two different sets of parents, same general result).

I decided then that if I ever did it again I wouldn't have parents working there.  I think if they're not around to watch what they're doing it's easier to distance themselves.   I also wouldn't necessarily work with homeschoolers, many of whom wanted to control their children's activities rather than trusting that they could do it themselves (and I say this as a former homeschooler myself).

This tv and video game argument, actually, reminds me of those arguments we'd have in that group, arguments about  "what is good for them".  I grew up watching tv, as have my kids.  I have trouble with the "corruption" theory.  As far as video games/computer games go, I've seen some statistics that say they teach eye-hand coordination and problem-solving.  The idea that children can make their own decisions, that they're drawn to things that are good for them, is pretty reliable in my experience. 

Good luck on your group.  I'd say just be aware that some people who are gung-ho at one point may turn around rather suddenly!




 Ultimately, we will aim to be a recognized independent school in the state of vermont - hopefully by the following year.  I have 3 other teachers (I am an early childhood teacher) who are also parents of children who would attend now or eventually when they get older - this is the beginnings of my founding team.  We are getting to the place where we will need to have our "let's get our foundation philosophy straight" meeting - so we are all on the same page.  I am wondering about possible areas of disagreement here - and I know this is not along the pure Sudbury model, but I do not want to have television or videogames at the school, at least at the beginning.  Of course, there will not be money budgeted for this at first, and the children are going to be young - 5 - 9 years old to start.  Now we KNOW from current research that telelvision viewing and computer game playing is bad for the brain, and has even been found to contribute to "attention disorders" in children and adults.  Is anyone else doing a free school with limitations in this regard?

I know I am opening myself up here for a lot of critique - it is okay, I am looking to hear if others are doing free schools with some foundational limitations like this one.

Lisa in Vermont

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Received on Thu Apr 07 2005 - 23:39:56 EDT

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