Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] compulsory element of sudbury model

From: Madeleine Hesselink <>
Date: Sat Oct 8 10:00:01 2005

--- Tom Hall <> wrote:

> I think there are many unschooled kids who prefer
> that status over
> attending a sudbury type school.
> Due to the inherent limitations of institutions,
> they have more
> freedom and more choices.
> Although the decision whether or not to attend a
> sudbury school SHOULD
> rest with the child, it doesn't mean that it DOES.
> I have found that even the most fervent believers in
> democratic schools
> are not necessarily fervent believers in the rights
> of children to
> decide things for themselves outside of school. In
> reality, isn't the
> choice given to children often that of Sudbury
> schools or regular
> schools (not sudbury school or no school, or sudbury
> school and the
> freedom to do what they wish) ?

Most Sudbury schools would reject the admission of a
child who does not want to be there. I'm not saying
that the choices available to us are always perfect
and the child may be choosing the lesser evil to them,
but attending the a sudbury school is still a choice.
But for most kids, I don't think it is a lesser evil
option. most (of course not all) kids would far
prefer to come to a school where they can hang out
with their peers rather than hang around their parents
and siblings. Plus even unschoolers must have some
limitations--if they are not old enough to drive and
have their own car, then where they want to go may be
limited by the time contraints of their parents.

> Compulsory attendance is mandated by the state. It
> is not a choice.
> Although one can come up with many rationalizations
> as to why it's a
> good thing, the fact remains: the school compels
> students to attend,

Some schools do--ours does not. Our state does not
mandate it, therefore our school does not. But the
fact remains that our students come every day and
don't want to leave at the end of the day.

> whether they wish to or not. If you are going to
> equate a normal type
> school to "slavery", then I would say that
> compulsory attendance makes
> the sudbury schools also "slavery", though of a much
> less destructive
> kind (Although I'd rather get rid of the slavery
> analogy altogether.
> I find it appallingly hypocritical, unless one is
> willing to apply it
> to the overall status of children in our society,
> not just school)

Umm--I fully agree that the slavery analogy does not
apply here. I personally would not even apply it to
regular schools, but I really don't see anything slave
like about getting to do whatever you want whenever
you want within the bounds of reason--whether you want
to be there or not. If you want a meaningless analogy
to the fact of mantatory attendance at some schools, I
would recommend prison. But again, the comparison is
pretty ludicrous and I propose dropping all of these
severe analogies when discussing a place created
specifically for the good and joy of those attending.

It is very interesting to note that when I talk to
most people about Sudbury schools, they are concerned
about the kids not having enough limits, that
reasonable boundaries make kids feel safe etc. I am a
little surprised to see that on this list, people feel
like there are too many boundaries at Sudbury Schools.
 Often people talk of the need for some sort of middle
ground between complete freedom and regimentation. I
try to explain that Sudbury really is a middle
ground--that there are tons of rules and regs--the
only difference is that the kids get to make and
change them--if they want to. But I think that what
it comes down to at this point is that different
people have different philosophies--and no matter how
right our own point of view seems to us--someone else
feels just as strongly about their very different
ideas. My challenge is sometimes to let go of the
idea of changing other people's minds--but instead to
give them food for thought and let them do what they
will with it.

Received on Sat Oct 08 2005 - 09:59:15 EDT

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