Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] analogies, and talking "bad"

From: Karen Locke <>
Date: Sun Oct 9 11:06:01 2005


Thanks for making an important point! I don't usually think of it that way, but what if kids weren't forced to be in any kind of schooling at all? What if they were free to choose other things? Would they go to a school - SVS or anything else? Would play? invent?

I see the possibilities here. If they were given power over some resources (voting with everyone else, asked what they'd like from city/govt services, etc), what would they ask for? How could they contribute to society?

I know it's not politically possible as long as we have a "we must protect the children" mentality - and as long as we have adult unemployment making child employment politically unfeasible. A legislator in Minnesota wanted to give younger teens the vote and nearly got laughed out of office.

But I think it's a worthy discussion topic. What would young people do without schools? How would society change? What place would our democratic schools have in assisting such changes? Would this be a good direction to go in?
This is one organization for youth rights (although I can't find much about schooling)


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Alan Klein
  Sent: Sunday, October 09, 2005 8:11 AM
  Subject: RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] analogies, and talking "bad"



  I agree with you re analogies and I think you missed Tay's point, at least as I heard it. He was distinguishing between talking about what is wrong with public schools and "talkin' trash" about them. He was also pointing out the emotional baggage that comes along with certain analogies, in this case the analogy of public education to slavery. One aspect of "bad analogies" is that they cloud the point, rather than sharpen or clarify it. That said, in over 35 years of involvement in alternative education, I confess that I have used that particular analogy many, many times! The question, as I see it, is what does using it do to our effectiveness in communicating with others. Just because it appeals and makes sense to us does not mean that others will respond to it in that way.


  The other point that has been made clearly for me in this latest discussion is that the actual "slavery" aspect of education is the compulsory aspect of it - the state-mandated requirement that people attend - not what happens inside school walls. As long as our schools are following these laws, a strong argument can be made that we are morally no better than any other school on the "slavery spectrum", though we usually claim moral high ground there, particularly over "progressive" or "free" schools. I used to claim that same high ground. I am no longer so confident.


  I want to be clear, though, that this realization takes nothing away from my commitment to democratic schooling, as I believe it DOES make a difference what happens inside the walls of our schools.


  ~Alan Klein



  There are good analogies and bad analogies. Part of life is distinguishing between the two. One can ask, is it a good or bad analogy to talk about buying a Lexus sedan as being analogous to enjoying the bliss of beautiful admiring models? Is it a good or bad analogy to talk about the Israelis treatment of Palestinians as being analogous to the Gestapo's treatment of its enemies. And so forth. These are an important part of developing judgment. There is no thought without some sort of analogy; a dictionary is nothing more than a collection of analogies, as is every discussion of quantum theory (does anyone think nuclear particles are made of actual strings?)


  Nor is it always beneficial to avoid talking about what, in one's opinion, is bad about something as well as talking about what is good about the alternative being advocated by the speaker. Should we avoid talking about the bad aspects of nazism, or the gulag, or colonialism, or slavery, or gender discrimination, and only focus on the good things we enjoy in our culture? Is this actually a productive way to advance human moral sensitivity?


  I wonder whether all the people who are put off by writers on this list who talk bad stuff in public schools are equally desirous of avoiding bad talk about the Vietnam War, or companies that pollute the environment, or elected political leaders who are mired in corruption?


  Are we really so emotionally delicate that we cannot deal in a reasoned way with arguments that we feel are wrong?
Received on Sun Oct 09 2005 - 11:05:32 EDT

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