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

From: wmvh <vivalaarte_at_excite.com>
Date: Fri May 18 19:01:01 2007

"...These are facts of nature about how people are.
In traditional schools, the teacher is set up as a mini-dictator over
the students by the state..."

If it is in your nature to let others live their life as they see fit (and be totally fascinated watching the growth), being a mini-dictator is much harder than you might expect.

William Van Horn
http://inmystudio.net

 --- On Thu 05/17, Mike South < msouth_at_gmail.com > wrote:
From: Mike South [mailto: msouth_at_gmail.com]
To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_svsmail.net
Date: Thu, 17 May 2007 21:39:49 -0400
Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Some model questions (by newbie)

I'm only an observer, not a participant in any sudbury school, but let<br>me point out a couple of things.<br><br>You mention "the tension that arises between the staff's need for a<br>livelihood and the children's right to choose their own teachers".<br>That's not tension, that's "employment". Is there a tension between<br>your gardener's* need for a livelihood and your desire to to have your<br>rosebushes pruned the way you want them to? A person who wants to be<br>staff at a sudbury school is applying to the community to provide a<br>service to that community.<br><br>As far as "not being yourself"--for some people, providing that<br>service simply requires them to be themselves and do whatever they<br>would do anyway, for some people they may really have to make an<br>effort to do what the community wants. For example, if you are<br>naturally helpful and cheerful it's easy for you to do what is<br>required to run a register at a fast food place. If you
are<br>introverted and surly you might need to make a great deal of effort to<br>keep your job there. These are facts of nature about how people are.<br>In traditional schools, the teacher is set up as a mini-dictator over<br>the students by the state, it is true, but they are beholden to the<br>state to keep their jobs (it doesn't take much, as many of us who have<br>been through public schools can attest). There are still things they<br>have to do to keep their jobs, and if they don't do them, they lose<br>their jobs. Same deal in a sudbury school.<br><br>> Another argument that I've heard is that this<br>> imbalance is necessary since the model is<br>> student-centered. My counter to that is that if the<br>> children get an equal vote with staff, the school ends<br>> up being student-centered by virtue of the children<br>> being the majority. You could make the school<br>> people-centered without forcing the<br>> student-centeredness, and then the<br>>
student-centeredness would arise as an emergent<br>> phenomenon.<br><br>I'm not sure what the difference is, but I think the<br>student-centeredness is already "emergent". There is no "imbalance"<br>that is there by design so that it will be student centered. When you<br>decide that kids have as much right to decide what goes on at the<br>school as everyone else, the minute you get one more student than<br>staff it's "student centered". In fact, from what I can tell,<br>everything about how sudbury schools work is "emergent" in the sense<br>that it came from years and years of the participants in the model<br>modifying the model.<br><br>Also, as an aside, from what I have heard, I wouldn't worry too much<br>about a person supporting a family suddenly being on the street<br>because they lost their job as staff at a sudbury school. Unless<br>you're going to work out a model where all your enrollees are from<br>really wealthy families that just want to pay a whole lot for
their<br>children to go to a sudbury school, you're not going to be paying<br>staff enough to support a family anyway. I could be wrong about this,<br>but my impression is that staff positions are more like a teaching<br>assistantship in a graduate program. Maybe subsistence level for one<br>person with discipline to keep expenses low. (People who actually<br>know what they are talking about are encouraged to chime in and<br>correct me.)<br><br>mike<br><br>On 5/17/07, Laura L <laural88_at_yahoo.com> wrote:<br>> Hi. I just joined this list after being directed to<br>> it by another member of the list, who suggested this<br>> might be a great place to throw out some questions.<br>> I'm seriously considering being involved in starting a<br>> Sudbury school, but still need to learn a lot more.<br>><br>> To be honest, I don't expect to ever be 100%<br>> comfortable with the model since I would prefer that<br>> we lived in a very different, more just, more<br>> democratic society.
  But we live in this one (for<br>> now, although many of us are working on changing<br>> that), which means that the optimal situations are<br>> never available to us. However, I do love what I've<br>> read and watched about Sudbury schools so far and I<br>> already believe they are a far better option than<br>> anything else I know of and something I would really<br>> love to be a part of.<br>><br>> So here's one question I have. What do people think<br>> about the tension that arises between the staff's need<br>> for a livelihood and the children's right to choose<br>> their own teachers? Here's what I mean. I really<br>> love that the children get to vote staff in or out in<br>> terms of their rights to learn what and how they want.<br>> However, since we don't live in a society where the<br>> right to eat and be clothed and housed, and so forth,<br>> is guaranteed, this could lead to a situation where<br>> the children's rights to their desired education is
in<br>> conflict with the staff member's or staff member's<br>> children's right to eat, etc.<br>><br>> Besides the danger that a staff member's not being<br>> rehired would leave them in financial distress (the<br>> most important of my concerns), this also seems like<br>> it would make the more financially-strapped staff<br>> afraid to be themselves around the children, at least<br>> at some level, and might also make it less likely that<br>> someone with fewer financial resources would want to<br>> work at the school. Does anyone have experiences to<br>> share about this stuff? Do all the schools have low<br>> staff turnover?<br>><br>> In my beginning understanding of J.C. one reason it<br>> works is that everyone is in theory mutually<br>> accountable, which makes it easier to put oneself into<br>> the other's shoes. Whereas in hiring or firing staff<br>> the children have a harder time doing that I would<br>> assume since they are never in danger of expulsion<br>>
themselves. Of course, I wouldn't advocate that<br>> everyone also vote on each student's continuing. The<br>> community must be a safe place for the children.<br>><br>> Another argument that I've heard is that this<br>> imbalance is necessary since the model is<br>> student-centered. My counter to that is that if the<br>> children get an equal vote with staff, the school ends<br>> up being student-centered by virtue of the children<br>> being the majority. You could make the school<br>> people-centered without forcing the<br>> student-centeredness, and then the<br>> student-centeredness would arise as an emergent<br>> phenomenon.<br>><br>> Given the society we live in, I don't see a resolution<br>> for this issue, but I'd be interested to hear other<br>> people's thoughts on these ideas. I have more<br>> questions but I'll wait on those for now.<br>><br>> Thanks in advance for your thoughtful responses,<br>> Laura<br>><br>><br>><br>><br>>
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Received on Fri May 18 2007 - 19:00:02 EDT

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