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

From: Scott David Gray <>
Date: Fri Dec 1 21:40:01 2006

Hi Naomi,

     Liberty is the surest way to keep people safe. This may seem like
an oxymoron, but it is not.

     There are all sorts of things about daily life at a Sudbury
school that keep people safe. For one, the entire community is caring,
thoughtful, and looks out for one another; after even the lightest
scraped knee, word comes to a staff member (sometimes many staff) in
the span of time that it takes another child to run and find a staff
member (maybe 30 seconds). For another, because people are free to do
what they wish, there is no incentive to lie about what one is doing.
But, most important, is the fact that nobody condescends to the child,
and pretends that the child *isn't* ultimately responsible for her/his
own safety.
     There is no way to guarantee another person's safety, as Hilary
says so eloquently. The best that we can do, is to hope that those we
care about *realize* that their safety is, ultimately, in their hands.
Sudbury schools have enviable safety records precisely *because* they
do not perpetuate the myth that some other person can *make* you safe.
Sudbury schools recognize that the responsibility for safety is
squarely on the child's shoulders.
     A Sudbury school makes it clear to children that the safety rules
are of the highest importance. And that, in a school based on liberty,
there is no room for compromise with them. As far as specifically
which rules are on the books, that varies from school to school -- but
at Sudbury Valley a copy of our School Meeting's handbook is provided
to every family every year, and the handbook is also available in our
bookstore (our rules include
clear strictures about water, and about going off campus, for example)

     Because the child has real liberty, it is particularly important
that parent and child both agree that a Sudbury school is right for
them, and that the child is ready. And, by the same token, the school
needs to feel confident that the child is able to respect the
straightforward safety rules on campus, and to use judgment in his/her
daily life, before accepting the child as a student.
     Ultimately, people who feel empowered and in control of their
lives are safer than those who feel buffeted about by chance. This
goes for children as well as for adults.

On 12/1/06, Naomi Rivkis <> wrote:

> 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

BTW, I believe that we met before. From Guy Fawkes day. Or am I
confusing you with a different Naomi Rivkis?

-- Scott David Gray
Received on Fri Dec 01 2006 - 21:39:46 EST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0 : Mon Jun 04 2007 - 00:03:15 EDT