Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Some facts

From: David Rovner <>
Date: Fri Apr 8 01:54:00 2005

And, if somebody do tell other people what to do,
does he/she get a fine ?
he/she doesn't get elected next term ?
the parlament scolds him/her ?
he/she feels he/she failed ?
etc., etc., etc.
What happens ?
If something happens, at all.

~ David

----- Message Was Originally -----
From: David Rovner
Sent: Monday, April 04, 2005 11:36 AM
Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Encouragment.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Scott David Gray" <>
To: "Discuss-Sudbury-Model Mailing List" <>
Sent: Friday, April 08, 2005 4:38 AM
Subject: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Some facts

> This conversation has devolved into a set of debates over
> words that is worryingly abstract and academic and off-base,
> and frankly bizarre. It has also led to some serious
> misrepresentations and misunderstandings, and also some just
> plain misquoting. A set of thirteen relevant items, in no
> particular order:
> 1) Yes, in fact, Sudbury schools are very supportive
> communities for all School Meeting members -- staff and
> students. People of all ages find people who are ready to
> help them with various challenges and questions and projects
> in their lives.
> 2) No, Sudbury staff don't actively advertise potential
> activities for students. We don't say things to students
> that an adult wouldn't happily say to an adult in a similar
> relationship. We *certainly* never announce to a mass of
> people something as artificial as "I am going to be working
> in the darkroom at X time. Anyone who wants to join me is
> welcome to do so." On the other hand, I might quietly
> mention to a kid who has *already* expressed an interest in
> working with me, that X time would be good for me because
> I'm working then anyway.
> 3) Public activities do exist at the school. The activities
> directly related to the governance of the school (this or
> that meeting at this or that time) are placed on a common
> central bulletin board, just as local town meetings are
> announced in the paper. And social things (from plans to
> bake pies, to history seminars, etcetera) are sometimes
> arranged *by*students* and -- after the fact of the event
> being arranged -- announced on the board.
> 4) At Sudbury Valley, people of all ages are sovereign over
> themselves. However, the students and staff are equally
> subject to the will of the community, as expressed through
> the School Meeting's laws. This is called respect. We do
> this, because we feel that respect is and freedom the ideal
> environment in which to grow up respectful, responsible, and
> fulfilled. We have not been disappointed. The act of
> violating that respect -- of treating a child as a different
> animal from an adult -- dooms that entire method. The
> presumption that adults know better for children than those
> children do, is at the heart of school systems oriented
> around curricula. But it is at odds with what we do at
> Sudbury Valley.
> 5) It is just as disrespectful to carefully thought out
> philosophies of education which use a curriculum, to suggest
> that Sudbury schools could have *some* curriculum or *some*
> staff who are proactive on academia, as it is to the
> carefully thought out philosophies of education which are
> practiced by our School Meeting. I mean no disrespect to
> systems that use a curriculum when I say that the two cannot
> be combined. I do regularly criticize traditional education;
> but I at least respect them as operating under a consistent
> philosophy. When one talks about 'blending' 'elements of
> Sudbury' one is abandoning any clear educational philosophy
> for some sort of wishy-washy desire to have it both ways.
> 6) Sudbury Schools *have* no doctrine. No formal definition
> of a Sudbury School exists, anywhere, to my knowledge. On
> the other hand, different people involved in schools define
> key elements of what they are doing. And different schools
> choose to have associations with one another. There are
> several schools that Sudbury Valley keeps an association
> with, and several that we do not keep a collegial
> association with because their philosophies and aims are too
> far from ours. And most of the schools that we keep
> associations with *themselves* keep associations with other
> schools -- which may or may not overlap to a greater or
> lesser degree with our list.
> 7) Alumni from Sudbury schools seem to be doing just fine --
> by any measure. Whether you look at income or higher degrees
> (questionable measures of success), or self-reports of
> fulfillment and happiness, or numbers who get into career of
> first choice, our alumni do very well. The question isn't
> 'aren't you harming those kids?' but 'isn't that neat, how
> does it work?'
> 8) When you treat people with respect, they treat you with
> respect. This is why the staff hiring process is, as I
> mentioned before, very gentle and respectful. Placing power
> in the hands of younger people does not make animals of
> them. Particularly when it is *equal* power. People who
> manage and govern in unequal environments do sometimes
> relish their power a little much, but when an entire
> community is taking care of it's own the process can be much
> more human.
> 9) Students at Sudbury schools are 'exposed' to plenty of
> things. They are not missing out, because they are not being
> formally introduced to them by an adult, in a classroom
> setting or otherwise. A review of classroom policies in
> *any* traditional school gives the lie to the idea that
> people are exposed to more in that environment than in a
> Sudbury environment. In a traditional environment, you are
> listening to one stream of factoids from one person, without
> counterbalancing opinions, or the free market of ideas. In a
> Sudbury school, you have dozens of conversations you could
> be part of -- many of which are in earshot of your other
> conversation so you can't help but be 'exposed' to the
> biology/theology/ethics/whatever discussion going on 'over
> there.' You also have Internet computers not behind the
> *exceeding* restrictive CIPA firewalls that prevent students
> even from viewing want-ad sites, and TVs, and books books
> everywhere on any subject you could dream of. On the other
> hand, traditional schools do everything in their power not
> to *present* information but to *limit* information. Their
> philosophy of eduction is 'tear down and build up' -- remove
> *everything* from the child and then rebuild the child with
> a set set of factoids. Sudbury's philosophy is in my opinion
> more humane and more realistic -- the child has already
> started growing, let him/her continue!
> 10) Do critical stages of development exist? Yes, they do --
> Todd's critique of another post notwithstanding. Most of the
> evidence is in language. For example, deaf children in
> Nicaragua(?) were denied sign language for several years
> because of A) lack of funding for a massive amount of
> deafness that passed with a particular virus and B) some
> wise-acre educationists' horrible life-destroying idea that
> it would keep them from actually learning to read lips. The
> children who never were allowed to be exposed to signing
> were otherwise treated very well -- but the ones who didn't
> get any exposure to signing before age 6 simply never were
> able to learn grammar *at*all* even after being intensely
> exposed to sign language. And deaf children who got to spend
> time together before age 6 but had no language access, and
> were *allowed* to do so, actually *developed* a sign
> language with grammar and all. Does this mean that people
> should be sure to be 'taught' language before age 6 comes?
> No -- it means that the mental processes for acquiring
> information (play, curiosity, role modeling, watching) are
> innately wiser than any professional educators. We may know
> a lot about the mind, but there is *MUCH* more that we don't
> know, and not only do people learn more when their own minds
> set the theme and pace, but in fact people are happier.
> 11) Yes, students know how to make use of the democratic
> process. I didn't do a head count in School Meeting today,
> but there were at least 80 people of all ages. The meeting
> dealt with several difficult issues, but was respectful
> throughout. The debate from all corners was at the highest
> level and very interesting. And everybody understood the
> procedures.
> 12) Democracy means -- government by the governed. Equality
> before the law means -- all people being held to the same
> standards. Liberty means -- the governing authority only
> takes from people's time to meet a clearly defined need and
> then only does so in a limited way and/or with a heavy heart
> (jury duty, or a military draft), and activities are only
> limited from very clear cause and only with a heavy heart.
> These three together are the foundations of Sudbury Valley;
> I personally feel that this is what people of all ages
> deserve, and because it doesn't get in the way of their
> learning and in fact seems to help, why the blazes not treat
> children with this same human respect and decency?
> 13) When expenditures of resources are done, they are not
> based on whim. They are based upon the desire for
> this-or-that in the school, balanced against it's cost. When
> the school decides to get x86 computers that run windows and
> Linux, it is expressing a decision based upon the relative
> demand for different products by persons in the school,
> balanced against the relative costs (not only money, but
> also space and time). The school meeting is neither
> discouraging people from or encouraging people to play with
> Macintosh or VMS or Alpha computers by these choices. To be
> sure, when a community decides to find something to serve
> the common good (building a public park, or a library) some
> individual people get more benefit than others -- but that
> does not make the community any less pluralistic. On the
> other hand, when a community actively supports the idea of
> people paid with it's resources knocking on the doors of
> people to try and actively cajole them to do this-or-that,
> the community is most certainly *not* respecting differences
> of opinion or pluralism.
> --
> --Scott David Gray
> reply to:
> ============================================================
> A great many people think they are thinking when they are
> merely rearranging their prejudices.
> -- William James
> ============================================================
Received on Fri Apr 08 2005 - 01:53:10 EDT

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