RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] "For the child's own good"?

From: Joseph Moore <>
Date: Mon Dec 12 15:21:00 2005

This question does get right to the heart of the matter. We make, I
think, two assertions or assumptions about children: first, that
children have rights, including the right to choose what to learn about.
Second, that children are highly motivated to become competent in their
The first is purely philosophical, in my opinion, in that it is more a
way of looking at things than anything you can demonstrate in the
physical world. The second is easier to get at, as anyone who has been
around really small children can very easily see that they devote
enormous energy and persistence to mastering one essential task after
another, until, almost suddenly, they are walking, talking, reasoning
beings - at which point, traditional education assumes that they have
lost all natural desire to learn and need to be lead by the nose through
some curriculum or other.
But I digress.
We take for granted, on the other hand, that a 5 year old is perfectly
capable - in fact, is the only one capable - of figuring out what she
need to know and figuring out how to learn it.
So, to stand the issue on its head: what are you worried about kids NOT
learning, so much so that adults are bound to intervene with force?
Algebra? I mean, really, what's out there that is so necessary for life
that kids should be forced to learn it, that kids can 1) be made to
learn in school; and 2) simply will not learn otherwise?
Seems to me that list has no items on it.
-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of Matt77
Sent: Sunday, December 11, 2005 5:46 AM
Subject: [Discuss-sudbury-model] "For the child's own good"?
Thanks for all the responses about my piano/foreign language question. I
have a million more questions, but I'll try to ask them one at a time,
so I don't wear you all out...! (It's REALLY helpful to me to hear what
everyone has to say. I only recently learned about Sudbury schools, and
their approach resonates so strongly with me that I'm having a difficult
time deciding if I can or should keep my job as a teacher in a
traditional school in the future. So I want to learn as much as I can
from people who have experience with Sudbury schools.)
I'd like to stay with the same general topic as my last question, but
broaden it a little. Within the general guidelines of the Sudbury model,
are there ANY cases when an adult (parent or staff) should force a child
to do something the he/she doesn't want to do for what the adult
perceives to be the child's own good? I've read someone mention the case
of clear, immediate danger to the ch! ild (eg. making a child stop and
look both ways before crossing a street), but are there other cases? I
guess I'm looking specifically for REAL experiences that people who
work/live with the Sudbury model have encountered, but if you can come
up with any hypothetical cases I'd also like to hear them.
(I realize the word "force" is a bit loaded. (The words "encouragement"
and "coercion" and so on have certainly gotten a lot of attention on
this forum.) Can we assume for the sake of this discussion that
"forcing" occurs when an interaction with a child moves beyond the
extent of any normal interaction we might have with another adult when
we suggest something that we think they might be interested in doing (eg
watching a good movie) - that is, dropping the subject when we feel
they've heard us out fully, understood us correctly, and in the end
responded with a "no", without our resorting to saying "Come on, just
give it a go!" or "Please??" or in any wa! y asking them to disregard
their reasoned decision.)
Forcing kids to get vaccinations or take medicine? To go to bed early?
Don't know...
- Matt

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Received on Mon Dec 12 2005 - 15:20:44 EST

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