Re: Three Threads in a Fountain

Bruce L. Smith (bsmith@midway.uchicago.edu)
Wed, 29 Jan 1997 21:51:23 -0600

Sayeth Swifty <g>:

>it is indeed a moot question, unless you believe that traditional
>education is appropriate for anything approaching '*all* students'.

I believe that traditional education is "appropriate" for nothing but
socialization/indoctrination and training. That's certainly all I saw in
my five years as a public educator. The few students who readily adapt to
the system, the overly tractable...those I worry about.

>i don't think that charter schools are anything near a complete
>solution, but they are certainly not part of the problem.
>they do little for student freedom, but they are making some progress in
>the direction of teachers' autonomy, which although it is not exactly
>the SVS issue, is a good thing in itself.

Okay, I'll tip my hand a bit here for the sake of clarification. I phrased
my question in terms of a "move in the right direction" simply because
there seem to be a few slight echoes -- very faint ones -- of the Sudbury
model in the concept of charter schools. However, these do not constitute
a "right direction" in the sense of progress toward true reform, which I
believe is absolutely beyond the capacity of the traditional system. With
Scott Grey, I see nothing short of their dismantling as promising genuine
reform. So for me, charter schools comprise not a reform in and of
themselves, but rather a chance for promoting the search for alternatives.
If a few people get a faint taste of autonomy from these charter schools,
perhaps it will encourage some to consider such viable alternatives as
Sudbury.

Perhaps.

-- Bruce

-------------------------

"If a person is determined to learn, they will overcome every obstacle and
learn in spite of everything...but if you bother the person, if you insist
he stop his own natural learning and do instead what you want him to
do...between 10:00 and 10:50 and so forth, not only won't he learn what he
has a passion to learn, but he will also hate you, hate what you are
forcing him to do, and lose all taste for learning."

-- _'And Now for Something Completely Different':
An Introduction to Sudbury Valley School_