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

From: Todd Pratum <>
Date: Fri Apr 8 10:48:00 2005
 You did not read the first sentence in my posting:  "I agree that we should let kids decide, for the most part, what THEY think is good for them."  Thus what I am saying is that they (the children) should have most of the control, not all!  Todd.

Richard Berlin wrote:
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? 

It seems to me there's a zero-sum fallacy here, an assumption that  either the parent must hold all of the decision making power OR the  child must hold all of it.

My preschooler plans all of his weekday breakfasts and lunches.  We  love it because we always know what to shop for and prepare.  And he  seems to actually *eat* the healthy foods he chooses, unlike when we  were doing the planning.  Everybody wins!  Is he able to pick anything  in the world?  Of course not (for a variety of reasons).  But that  doesn't mean that *we* are making the decision for him, either--it's a  collaborative effort.  And I am confident that if you asked him what  goes into a good lunch he would say "a protein, a starch, a fruit and a  vegetable."

This is not philosophy, it's practicality--I don't want my child to  suddenly find himself expected to make decisions that he has  insufficient experience with.  He could no sooner learn good nutrition  by having the decisions made for him than he could learn to ride a  bicycle by watching me do it.

Nudity and touching is agonizing, but *decision-making* is not open to  me.  Obviously I can try to avoid leaving him with an adult who will  molest him, and can set a good example in a variety of ways.  But I  can't be with him every minute of every day; how can I possibly claim  to have decision making ability over this?  The best I can do for him  is to give him information, and empower him (hopefully) to respect  bodies and personal boundaries, both his and other people's.


TV looks simple but it is very complicated, way too complicated for a  child to understand.

There are things that are too complicated for a child to understand,  and the full range of issues surrounding TV almost certainly qualifies.   But it does not follow that adults should take all control away from  the child.

How does TV effect our imagination? 

I have found some studies but haven't been able to obtain them yet.   But here's some anecdotal evidence (warning! that's not science!).  I  have certainly observed the effect of TV on my child's imagination.  He  watches too much TV, in my opinion, but that hasn't stopped him from  being far more imaginative than many of his peers.  (After a year at a  participatory preschool I can say this with some conviction.)  TV is  grist for his mill, just the same way that everything else is; it  informs his fantasy but does not appear to confine it.  You might want  to look at 16_2003_1/16_2003_e.htm

I need to wrap this up, so I will leave you with one final thought.   The number of times I have overestimated my child's abilities is  dwarfed by the number of times I have underestimated those abilities.    What's your experience with your child?

-- Rich

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Received on Fri Apr 08 2005 - 03:03:00 EDT

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