[Discuss-sudbury-model] Newbie with questions about safety

From: Naomi Rivkis <nrivkis_at_yahoo.com>
Date: Fri Dec 1 19:57:00 2006

Hi, all. I've just discovered this list after a lot of
reading, both online and in books, about Sudbury-model
schools. I wish I'd had one when I was a kid; I did
most of my learning in my alleged off-hours by myself
or with friends. I suspect most kids do, who have to
go to ordinary schools. My schools were mostly not
bad, exactly -- my high school was pretty good, in
that it had some really interesting kids and a lot of
free time to do what we wanted if we could do it
responsibly. And some of what was taught, I wanted to
learn, and so I did. But I would have loved the chance
to do more, and I would have loved *not* to have my
views of certain subjects poisoned by several years of
sitting through them when I wasn't ready or
interested. So I want something better for my kids.

Both my children are too young for the local
Sudbury-model school (Fairhaven; we live in Silver
Spring); one is a baby, the other is in a Montessori
preschool, which at least has some of the elements of
individual choice. But I'm learning what I can ahead
of time, and impressed with what I've learned. It's
*scary* to have to keep pushing out of my head the
stuff that "everyone says" about education, but when I
compare what I've heard against what I see when I
actually observe kids -- heck, observe any people --
with my own eyes, I have to trust the latter, scary or
not.

The one concern I do have is about physical safety. I
want my kids to learn self-reliance, but I'd rather
they live to reach it!! I want them to make their own
mistakes and grow from them, but only those mistakes
that don't have such extreme consequences that they'll
never grow again. I can't imagine this isn't a primary
concern of all parents, and since everything else
about Sudbury schools feels right to me, I want to
know how this fits in.

I'm not worried about tumbles out of trees. I grew up
on an island where three-quarters of the land was
fenced off as allegedly dangerous, and the kids
climbed the fence and played there anyway. Most of
what grownups consider safety hazards are basically
bruise-hazards or maybe, at the worst, broken-arm type
hazards. If I'm willing to let my daughter play
soccer, or ride horses (and I am), I'm willing to let
her have the run of a reasonably well-kept campus with
various Big Objects on it. If she falls off, she'll
cry, and she'll get band-aids or whatever, and she'll
get up again.

But I'm worried about water, and I'm worried about the
outside, where people are not as trustworthy as they
are on campus. I don't know whether, at five or six,
my kids will know how to swim, or be able to climb a
log above the stream well enough to keep from falling
in. I don't know if they will be able to cross a
highway with a good enough eye to measure the speed of
oncoming traffic. And I'm damn sure that they won't be
able to negotiate with strange adults who mean them
harm.

My husband's brother, for whom my son was named, died
at the age of eight, hit by a truck when he ran into
the road chasing a ball. Not very long ago, a pair of
snipers went around shooting random passersby in my
own neighborhood; their favorite places were just
outside of schools. I love what I hear of Fairhaven,
but I'm afraid. How does complete freedom of movement,
especially in very young kids and those who are very
new to such freedom, combine with making as sure as is
reasonably possible that the kids survive to make use
of their freedom at all?

Naomi

 
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Received on Fri Dec 01 2006 - 19:56:30 EST

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