DSM: Regarding Peter Gilbert.

ELLY WOOD (ELLYW@earth.goddard.edu)
Fri, 22 May 1998 21:29:04 EST

Hi everyone. I wanted to add my two cents. I am currently a student
at Goddard College in Plainfield, VT, a school which strives to be
democratic in education, but is certainly a place that has its own
troubles.

I was reading Peter Gilbert's message about the reason that folks do
not endorse alternative education, and I would like to tell my story.
I spent my first year in college at Saint Olaf College in Northfield,
Minnesota, and started out really excited about FINALLY being a
college student. I grew up in New Hampshire with my middle class
parents and was really ready to get out of their house and their
hair. Not that they were terrible, just the "normal" way that things
go with teenagers, I guess.

Regardless of that, I went away to school in MN and got into it, and
found myself frustrated with the way things were going before even
the middle of that first semester. I was not anxious or excited
about going to my classes, found myself lost in the loop of a "small"
school (3,000 students) and without a feeling I was part of that
community. And, because I went to conventional school in high
school, I was used to it and felt like it was JUST THE WAY IT
WAS...THERE COULDN'T BE ANY OTHER WAY TO LEARN. In my second
semester, I had the opportunity to take a class called "Vietnam
Literature" with a wonderful woman. The material we read, about the
war and other Vietnam legends, etc., coupled with her ability to
"facilitate" our classes rather than "teach" or "profess" were a
changing point for me. I found myself eager to read for the class,
eager to go to class, and eager to learn using her model. Her name
was Olivia Frey, and she treated each of us respectfully, and sat
with us on our level, eager to hear what our thoughts and feelings
were about some very intense stuff.

She also had us write self-evaluations for ourselves and ultimately
give ourselves our own grade, of course in agreement with her and her
evaluation of our individual progress. By the time I started her
class, I had already decided to transfer from Olaf, but it was when I
sat in that class and had discussions, and the ability to share what
I felt strongly about and be respected for it, I decided to find
another school, an alternative school, that I could be a part of that
model of education in EVERY class. I found Goddard, and it's working
well for me. I'm happy to answer questions about it...of course,
through personal e-mail, since its model of "progressive education"
wouldn't really be a topic to put on this mailing list.

Why did I give this story of my own experience? Because as Peter
suggested in his message, we, the supporters of alternative methods
in education, are in the minority. It's definitely spreading, but
there are a lot of people out there who haven't ever heard about
those other methods and get caught up in the "this is the only way so
it must be the right way" mentality. I had to actually experience it
to find it and decide that it was what worked for me...and I think
that might be the case in many situations.

Sorry so lengthy! That's all for now!
Sincerely, Elly Wood