Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Parents on campus

From: <mimsys_at_comcast.net>
Date: Thu Nov 30 17:07:01 2006

I wish I knew exactly what all the needs Ann Ide knows about that have been rebuffed are. Or even a few. In my experience, kids who have really wanted things (that are reasonable to have at school -- advanced auto mechanics, for instance, would not be one you could pursue on our campus) have pushed for ways to get them at Sudbury Valley and have usually been successful. Sometimes it makes more sense to look in the outside for certain activities because it is best to find specialized equipment, or a group that has the same interest and one has not materialized at school. Sometimes parents have a different view of what children's expressed needs are than the school does. Finding a way to express these needs at school, if they are real, is sometimes an important part of learning how to be responsible for yourself. That is sometimes a bigger educational experience than getting whatever it is you want. And an ability that is an important life skill, perhaps as important a life s
kill as anyone can learn in any school.

Expressing one set of needs at home and another at school also happens regularly. It is sort of like the kids who go home after having a fabulous day and complain to a parent about all the things that went wrong. I could do some complaining to my husband too -- maybe sometimes I do -- but I have mostly learned to judge my day a little more as a whole. The kids learn that too after a while, but it is so nice to have a little sympathy at home after you have spent the whole day being, essentially, a grownup. This is a hard school, and one of the delights of separation of home and school is going home and . . . reverting a little! After all, home is where people love you the very best.

Also, sometimes loving children (most of the kids in our school love their parents and appreciate the sacrifices their parents make to send them to school here) sort of pick up on ideas that parents have about good ways to spend time at school. They want to please those parents whom they love very much, so year after year we hear stories of the following things that have supposedly happened at school that are told at home: "I don't know how to get [blank] to happen. No one will help me figure it out." "I asked [blank] to teach me how to do my times tables but they were too busy." "So and so never shows up for appointments s/he makes." "I can't ever find [blank]." It goes on and on. One famous time a parent complained that the staff was always out shopping!

It is kind of difficult for me not to relate this thread to a personal encounter I had last week with a student that seemed to reek of one of the things in the above paragraph.

There is another side to this subject, and I don't know if Anne has separated that part out. There are some parents who want to come to school and teach, or work with kids in, the things that they love. Their inability to do so has been something that parents have often been extremely upset about. We have an absolute policy of only supporting activities that kids have asked for, not the ones that parents wish to give. It is part of our philosophy, and a very deep part. We do not think kids are dying on the vine here for lack of "exposure" or are unable to find out how to even want in the world. Our experience is that there is a very sophisticated and educated group of students (and the staff are not totally shabby either) in our school, and the cross-exposure and cross-fertilization that is a natural part of this community allows students to know a lot about the possibilities. Indeed, even in very small Sudbury schools we see that going on to a very high extent. Exposure is
 the last of the problems we are thinking about. Everyone, of every age, is constantly talking about what is interesting to him/her; you would have to be wearing big earmuffs and blinders to miss getting more than enough exposure to leave you tired at the end of the day. Oh, and not be able to use the internet and not have a life outside of school!

Mimsy Sadofsky

p.s. Yes, sometimes kids say they wish they had taken advantage of more while they were at school. They realize when they leave what a rich community it was. But in fact, it seems that everyone here is working at top speed, and if they wish -- as I usually do -- that they could read more/talk more/see more/play more, then that is only human.
 -------------- Original message ----------------------
From: "Ann Ide" <ann.ide_at_rcn.com>
> Danny,
>
> With all respect, I agree with what you said that it is written in the policies
> ( "it may be 'in the books' (policy and textbooks"). I only said it was "our
> experience and perception", not fact, that it seems different in actuality.
> This is our 7th year, and the only non-staff instruction that I have been aware
> of (and, of course, I'm not aware of everything) have been piano and dance. I
> have also heard of kids who have left Sudbury schools for want of more
> instructional opportunities, of voiced frustration with the difficulty of it all
> (one student even mentioned it in her thesis), and my own kid's resignation
> about it.
>
> Once again, just sharing my perception and experience. As a parent, I can't be
> aware of everything that goes on day to day. That's part of the design, but
> unfortunately it has its potential consequences. I'm not saying I expect to
> know everything, just that you need to understand what I have available to draw
> my perceptions from.
>
> This in no way means we do not value what is available and happens at school.
> It's wonderful! I still question what seems to me to be a hesitancy to utilize
> parents and outside resources for more learning opportunities when they are
> desired. I just don't believe that our kids are as vulnerable to possible mixed
> messages that people fear might happen. Don't Sudbury kids develop very strong
> minds of their own? Don't some show up because they already have them? I find
> it hard to believe they can be so easily manipulated or mislead,or whatever the
> concern is, by non-staff adults. And people that aren't received well can be
> asked not to return. Maybe we're being overly protective and not trusting the
> kids enough in this context! We can let them climb huge beech trees, venture
> off-campus, etc. but not let them decide if they want to work with a non-staff
> person at school?
>
> If some schools can be successful doing it, why can't all of them?
>
> Ann Ide
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: dannyasher_at_aol.com
> To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
> Sent: Thursday, November 30, 2006 11:02 AM
> Subject: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Parents on campus
>
>
> Ann Ide wrote in a recent post, "At SVS, it may be 'in the books' (policy and
> textbooks) that kids will be supported in following their interests. But in our
> experience and perception, if the staff don't have the skills in an area of
> desired interest, then you pretty much have to pay more money ( and coming up
> with tuition is hard enough for many) to take a class outside of school, or do
> it 'on your own'. It seems to take an inordinate amount of commitment and
> effort to try and get something going otherwise. I fear that this makes it
> discouraging to explore something with a real human being, versus just reading
> about it."
>
> I have no problem with people venturing any opinions at all about various
> aspects of the model, whether or not I agree with them. But I have a problem
> when statements are made are contrary to fact about any particular situation -
> in this case, about what happens at Sudbury Valley when "the staff don't have
> the skills in an area of desired interest." In fact, the school has a
> long-standing stated policy, adopted as an educational policy by the Assembly
> many years ago, concerning this subject - to wit, the school will support, to
> the best of its financial ability, any interest, even if it requires outside
> expertise, if the subject matter concerned is one that is supported in the
> general community of traditional schools. (Examples: Spanish classes; French
> classes - before Denise Geddes joined the staff; assistance in establishing a
> music studio - before Mark joined the staff; and so forth.) If the subject!
> matter concerned is one that is outside the range of subjects generally covered
> in traditional schools, the school will, on a case by case basis (by
> determination of the School Meeting, or by determination of an agent designated
> by the School Meeting, such as the Source Corporation), consider whether to
> allot space in school for that enterprise and, if so, how much and when, and
> whether to charge for the space and the overhead associated with the space; and
> the instruction will have to be paid for by the participants, privately.
> (Examples: Martial Arts instruction, private piano lessons, and, currently,
> dance classes.)
>
>
> Daniel Greenberg
> Sudbury Valley
>
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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attached mail follows:


Danny,
 
With all respect, I agree with what you said that it is written in the policies ( "it may be 'in the books' (policy and textbooks").  I only said it was "our experience and perception", not fact, that it seems different in actuality.  This is our 7th year, and the only non-staff instruction that I have been aware of (and, of course, I'm not aware of everything) have been piano and dance.  I have also heard of kids who have left Sudbury schools for want of more instructional opportunities, of voiced frustration with the difficulty of it all (one student even mentioned it in her thesis), and my own kid's resignation about it. 
 
Once again, just sharing my perception and experience.  As a parent, I can't be aware of everything that goes on day to day.  That's part of the design, but unfortunately it has its potential consequences.  I'm not saying I expect to know everything, just that you need to understand what I have available to draw my perceptions from. 
 
This in no way means we do not value what is available and happens at school.  It's wonderful!  I still question what seems to me to be a hesitancy to utilize parents and outside resources for more learning opportunities when they are desired.  I just don't believe that our kids are as vulnerable to possible mixed messages that people fear might happen.  Don't Sudbury kids develop very strong minds of their own?  Don't some show up because they already have them?  I find it hard to believe they can be so easily manipulated or mislead,or whatever the concern is, by non-staff adults.  And people that aren't received well can be asked not to return.  Maybe we're being overly protective and not trusting the kids enough in this context!  We can let them climb huge beech trees, venture off-campus, etc. but not let them decide if they want to work with a non-staff person at school? 
 
If some schools can be successful doing it, why can't all of them?
 
Ann Ide
----- Original Message -----
From: dannyasher@aol.com
To: discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org
Sent: Thursday, November 30, 2006 11:02 AM
Subject: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Parents on campus

Ann Ide wrote in a recent post, "At SVS, it may be 'in the books' (policy and textbooks) that kids will be supported in following their interests.  But in our experience and perception, if the staff don't have the skills in an area of desired interest, then you pretty much have to pay more money ( and coming up with tuition is hard enough for many) to take a class outside of school, or do it 'on your own'.  It seems to take an inordinate amount of commitment and effort to try and get something going otherwise.  I fear that this makes it discouraging to explore something with a real human being, versus just reading about it."
 
I have no problem with people venturing any opinions at all about various aspects of the model, whether or not I agree with them.  But I have a problem when statements are made are contrary to fact about any particular situation - in this case, about what happens at Sudbury Valley when "the staff don't have the skills in an area of desired interest."  In fact, the school has a long-standing stated policy, adopted as an educational policy by the Assembly many years ago, concerning this subject - to wit, the school will support, to the best of its financial ability, any interest, even if it requires outside expertise, if the subject matter concerned is one that is supported in the general community of traditional schools.  (Examples: Spanish classes; French classes - before Denise Geddes joined the staff; assistance in establishing a music studio - before Mark joined the staff; and so forth.)  If the subject! matter concerned is one that is outside the range of subjects generally covered in traditional schools, the school will, on a case by case basis (by determination of the School Meeting, or by determination of an agent designated by the School Meeting, such as the Source Corporation), consider whether to allot space in school for that enterprise and, if so, how much and when, and whether to charge for the space and the overhead associated with the space; and the instruction will have to be paid for by the participants, privately.  (Examples: Martial Arts instruction, private piano lessons, and, currently, dance classes.)
 
Daniel Greenberg
Sudbury Valley
 

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Received on Thu Nov 30 2006 - 17:06:36 EST

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