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

From: Christopher Weeks <>
Date: Tue Dec 13 19:15:02 2005

I took Matt's question to be broader than the in-school experience. I
thought he was asking, e.g. what control over the diet of your offspring
should you exert? Is that right Matt -- did you intend to be that
inclusive? I'm in complete agreement with the Sudbury philosophy about
that child's mind -- their learning choices at school or at home. But
I'm not sure how I feel about extending that philosophy to all
behaviors. As Matt wrote, "clear, immediate danger to the child" is a
good enough reason to exert gross physical control over them. But in the
case of diet (and lots of other things, I'm sure) the danger isn't clear
or immediate. So I think he's asking what does the Sudbury model say
about this kind of thing -- which I think is nothing because it doesn't
really have to do with school. Or does it? Matt, were you also asking
about coercing compliance with school rules?

Christopher Weeks

Joseph Moore wrote:

> Matt,
> 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 environment.
> 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.
> Joseph
> -----Original Message-----
> *From:*
> [] *On Behalf Of *Matt77
> *Sent:* Sunday, December 11, 2005 5:46 AM
> *To:*
> *Cc:*
> *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 Tue Dec 13 2005 - 19:14:05 EST

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