Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] what would you do?

From: Ann Ide <ann.ide_at_rcn.com>
Date: Sun Nov 13 12:19:00 2005

MessageMelissa,

Thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful and beautifully said post. I tell my kids they are amongst the luckiest kids in the world, and they agree. For me, the challenge of being a parent to a Sudbury student is knowing when to follow the principles you talk about, and when to step in with support, and all the variations within that. I was trying to encourage Jesse to work it out on his own. I, too, could share some great examples of wonderful growth that occured from doing so in the past. This time, however, it didn't feel right not to support him in a more involved way; and I am so glad that Hanna has opened up that opportunity for us.

I think it would be different if I were just to take over and manage the whole thing on my own. But by supporting him in a collaberative manner, he will learn by modelling how I/we go about it. For example, when we were sort of stumped as to how to handle the situation, and I talked about asking about it on the list, he learned about using a new resource and asking for others' ideas. When we meet with a staff member, he will continue to listen and learn with adult role models, collaberatively. It's another beautiful thing about the Sudbury model; and must certainly be a part of homeschooling, as well. Like I've said, for a parent, it can be challenging learning when and how to step in, or not.

I'm sure that, as Hilary said, with your level of awareness and intentionality for your kids developing self- reliance, etc., that you will create and allow those opportunities for them as much as possible. Just don't be too hard on yourself about how homeschooling has you more involved than being at a Sudbury school ; because in my experience, my sons are learning a great deal by working with adult role models, as well. That's a big part of the Sudbury model, too. What makes it work is how it's handled - in a democratic, respectful, collaberative way. I bet your kids are doing great!

Thanks again,
Ann Ide
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Melissa Bradford
  To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
  Sent: Saturday, November 12, 2005 12:21 PM
  Subject: RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] what would you do?

  Dear Ann,

  What my family would give to be able to trade places with you and have the problem you are having!

  First, I do want to echo Hanna's point about privacy. I used to teach public school, where teachers and parents talked about children all the time with no regard to their privacy at all, and it was a real adjustment for me when I got involved in Sudbury schools to learn to respect my kids' or other students' privacy. I found that it just didn't even occur to me that I should ask my children or others before I talked or wrote about them! But over time I did learn to be better about it, although sometimes I still need to check myself. I completely understand your need for feedback about this issue, but given the fact that anyone can access this list, perhaps there is a less public way to ask your questions in the future. I hope this discussion has not proven to have negative repercussions for you or your son. I'm sure that was not your intention.

  Having said that, I'd like to address your question by sharing my own family's experience. My son and daughter have attended Sudbury schools in the past, but currently there is not one here for them to attend, so we are in an unschooling group. My daughter has interests similar to your son's. She likes manga and also loves comedy improv, so, in our unschooling group, we have started a manga/anime club, and we have also organized a homeschool improv class with a local children's theater. So why would we trade this for a Sudbury school?

  Because there are lots of ways to pursue your interests, but having the opportunity to pursue them in a Sudbury environment is so much more empowering than other options. (And much more enjoyable, as far as my kids are concerned.) Your son being in the situation you describe is exactly why a Sudbury setting is so wonderful. Children have the opportunity to determine just how important their goals and interests are, decide what it takes to accomplish those goals, and whether or not it is worth it. Are they important enough to approach those older kids you don't know and/or feel a little intimidated by? Are they important enough to take time away from the other fun activities you may be enjoying? Are they important enough to bring to School Meeting and make a motion and get your friends to support it? Finding the answers to these questions is a learning process that you don't really find anywhere else. The students also have access all day long to lots of other children and adults of all ages making the same determinations for themselves. That is such power and freedom! What an amazing environment for any child.

  When you are homeschooling, most everything must go through mom or dad. When you are in traditional schools, everything depends on the teachers. At a Sudbury school, everything depends on you, the student. You have the freedom to meet these challenges and determine for yourself how to address them. This is much, much harder, but the rewards are much greater. Sure, my daughter is enjoying the anime club and the improv class, but they are very dependent on me and the other parents in the group. We parents give the permission, we give the rides, we provide the space, we make the phone calls. My daughter would much rather be in a setting where she had the freedom and the power to create these things for herself, as well as to be with children who also have that power and freedom, so they can create things together.

  Your son has not been able to pursue his interests fully at school yet. That is OK! That is part of learning what it takes to make something happen. I think the most powerful thing you can do is to let him know that you trust him and you trust his inner voice, and that he will eventually find a way to make his passions come to life. There are definite reasons he hasn't done it yet, some he has shared with you and maybe even some he has not. As a mom of Sudbury students, I do admit that I personally found this very difficult. It was very hard not to get involved and try to help my kids solve their problems. It is so much easier to look at their situations and just show them how to accomplish the goals they have expressed to me. I've had to do a lot of sitting on my hands! But if I hadn't, I would have robbed them of the victory of accomplishing their goals on their own, and taken away their opportunity to build confidence in their own abilities. When I stopped myself from telling them how they should take steps toward their goals, I eventually saw that what they most wanted to hear from me was not how to accomplish their goals, but just that I believed in them and that I knew they could accomplish whatever they set out to do. My wanting to get involved was actually giving them a message that I didn't think they could solve it on their own, even though that was not my intention. Sometimes they ended up choosing to pursue their interests at home and not at school because there was so much other fun stuff going on at school, and I decided that was OK with me. Even though they could pursue their goals at school, there were other needs, not necessarily being articulated, that were being met at school, and somewhere inside them they were deciding that those needs were more important, and I trusted that voice in them.

  I remember how both my kids around age six started telling me they wanted to learn how to read. Whenever I sat down with them to help them, they were suddenly totally uninterested in it! They wanted to read, but didn't really want to do the work it would require. I felt that even though they were expressing this desire to read, something inside them was stopping them. I felt I should trust that inner voice, and encourage them to trust it, too. Turns out it was the right decision. Both of them, when they were 8 years old, just started reading. They couldn't read, and then, all of a sudden they could. Just think of all the agony and frustration they might have gone through if they had tried to force themselves, or if I had tried to "encourage" them, to read at six! Even though they wanted to read, their inner voices or instincts or whatever told them they weren't ready. When they were ready, it happened naturally, with little effort. I'm really glad I let them determine for themselves what they wanted to do instead of trying to get more involved in helping them pursue their stated goal. It was something they had to master themselves, and I just kept telling them they would be able to do it when they were ready, and they found out that it was true. Now they can apply that experience to other new things and know that they have the ability to master them, too, when they are ready.

  Another thing I realized from my kids' time in Sudbury schools is that I would only hear a partial picture of what was going on, which of course is perfectly normal. When they had their frustrations on their minds, they would share them with me, but they didn't always tell me about other factors involved. Sometimes they neglected to tell me all the great things they were spending their time on, because they were focused on what they didn't do. It wasn't on purpose or anything, but sometimes they didn't have the ability to articulate the whole picture, or maybe didn't even see it themselves, or maybe they were just focusing on the obstacles at the moment. I found that when I trusted them to work it out, and gave them the message that I had confidence in their ability to figure it out, they did, eventually, and were that much stronger for it.

  Now that we are unschooling, the situation is much more difficult for us. I find myself worrying that my children do not have as much opportunity to develop their self-reliance, independence, and confidence as they did when they were in a Sudbury school. I am doing my best to recreate that setting at home and in our unschool group, but it really is not the same, so I am hoping our unschool group will evolve over time to be more like a Sudbury school, especially when we find a space of our own. I just want to let you know that you are so lucky to be able to send your child to Sudbury Valley School, and I hope you and he are able to suck every wonderful juicy bit of joy out of that opportunity.

  So I hope my experience helps a bit. Good luck to you and your son.

  Melissa
  Illinois

    -----Original Message-----
    From: discuss-sudbury-model-admin_at_sudval.org [mailto:discuss-sudbury-model-admin_at_sudval.org] On Behalf Of Ann Ide
    Sent: Friday, November 11, 2005 7:37 AM
    To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
    Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] what would you do?

    Actually, he is not shy at all with his friends, and most people, for that matter ! Sometimes, he is even a little too outspoken! I bet any SVS staff reading this are going, "What?" This seems to be a very contextual thing happening. It just doesn't "fit" the textbook picture of the model, hence my inquiry. Out of all the years, and all the children at SVS, and other Sudbury schools, I doubt this is the only occurence of such a thing.

    So, do I get involved somehow ?

    Thanks,
    Ann

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Received on Sun Nov 13 2005 - 12:18:25 EST

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