RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] parents on campus

From: Amanda Phillips <>
Date: Fri Dec 1 13:31:10 2006

I'm reminded of the joke about the two economists who walk past the Jaguar
dealer. One economist says to the other, "I really want one of those sweet
Jaguars!" The other economist replies, "Obviously not!"


It seems like if the kids really wanted something strongly enough, they
would work hard to get it. If they say they want something but don't push
for it, then maybe they didn't want it that badly. It's kind of circular,
but still true I think.





[] On Behalf Of Mimsy Sadofsky
Sent: Thursday, November 30, 2006 9:48 PM
Subject: [Discuss-sudbury-model] parents on campus


My original email got garbled; this is just a repeat, hopefully readable.



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 skill 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.


Mimsy Sadofsky


Received on Fri Dec 01 2006 - 13:31:00 EST

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