[Discuss-sudbury-model] Some model questions (by newbie)

From: Laura L <laural88_at_yahoo.com>
Date: Thu May 17 18:05:00 2007

Hi. I just joined this list after being directed to
it by another member of the list, who suggested this
might be a great place to throw out some questions.
I’m seriously considering being involved in starting a
Sudbury school, but still need to learn a lot more.

To be honest, I don’t expect to ever be 100%
comfortable with the model since I would prefer that
we lived in a very different, more just, more
democratic society. But we live in this one (for
now, although many of us are working on changing
that), which means that the optimal situations are
never available to us. However, I do love what I’ve
read and watched about Sudbury schools so far and I
already believe they are a far better option than
anything else I know of and something I would really
love to be a part of.

So here’s one question I have. What do people think
about the tension that arises between the staff’s need
for a livelihood and the children’s right to choose
their own teachers? Here’s what I mean. I really
love that the children get to vote staff in or out in
terms of their rights to learn what and how they want.
  However, since we don’t live in a society where the
right to eat and be clothed and housed, and so forth,
is guaranteed, this could lead to a situation where
the children’s rights to their desired education is in
conflict with the staff member’s or staff member’s
children’s right to eat, etc.

Besides the danger that a staff member’s not being
rehired would leave them in financial distress (the
most important of my concerns), this also seems like
it would make the more financially-strapped staff
afraid to be themselves around the children, at least
at some level, and might also make it less likely that
someone with fewer financial resources would want to
work at the school. Does anyone have experiences to
share about this stuff? Do all the schools have low
staff turnover?

In my beginning understanding of J.C. one reason it
works is that everyone is in theory mutually
accountable, which makes it easier to put oneself into
the other’s shoes. Whereas in hiring or firing staff
the children have a harder time doing that I would
assume since they are never in danger of expulsion
themselves. Of course, I wouldn’t advocate that
everyone also vote on each student’s continuing. The
community must be a safe place for the children.

Another argument that I’ve heard is that this
imbalance is necessary since the model is
student-centered. My counter to that is that if the
children get an equal vote with staff, the school ends
up being student-centered by virtue of the children
being the majority. You could make the school
people-centered without forcing the
student-centeredness, and then the
student-centeredness would arise as an emergent

Given the society we live in, I don’t see a resolution
for this issue, but I’d be interested to hear other
people’s thoughts on these ideas. I have more
questions but I’ll wait on those for now.

Thanks in advance for your thoughtful responses,

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Received on Thu May 17 2007 - 18:04:31 EDT

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