Sat, 18 Nov 2000 21:13:54 EST
Thank you for your essay.
The central question is what is the quality of the interaction between the
child and the care giver. If I survey, I think I see three different
Quality 1 would be like when they cut the arms off of children and ask them
if they want short sleeve or long sleeve. Long sleeve is below the elbow and
short sleeve is above the elbow. Or when folks throw their children in
dumpsters, or when they spank them to death, or when they shake them till
they are vegtables. Or the heroin in the breast milk, or when the father
(usually) shoots everyone in the family or when they drown them in the back
seat or when they paddle them in the state of Texas for being late to class.
The quality of the interaction between the child and the care giver in level
one is terror. The method of level one is physical assault.
Quality 2 is like when folks scream at a child for crying. Or when they say
to a 13 year old that he has to learn algebra, or when a child is told that
he/she is lazy or dumb or smart or good or bad. The very self of the child is
characterized and shamed with these labels. The imposition of these lablels
and their attendant moral agendas is emotional and psychological attack. The
quality of the interaction between the child and the care giver in level two
is fear. The method of level two is argument, attack and defend, right and
And then I saw a waiter. And each time he arrived at our table he engaged our
three year old son as if he were a person. And throughout the meal as he
came back, he did it again, each time. And then I saw it again in the woman
who was selling us shoes. She did it just like the waiter. And with just two
examples, I knew that I was on to a general case here, because whatever the
waiter and the saleswoman were doing, it was crystal clear that our son could
make extermely good use of it.
And we sat and theorized, "what if there were a place that had
institutionalized what the waiter and the shoesaleswoman were doing". We read
250 books to find out what the waiter was doing. He was offering a deep and
profound respect. We looked at 70 differents schools to see if we could find
this thing institutionalized.
Quality 3 is like when a child can fish all day. Day after day. Year after
year. And there is no critique of that, no judgement, no measurement, no
defense, no explanation, no argument. The quality of the interaction between
the child and care giver in level three is freedom. The method is a deep and
profound respect and regard. A trust, an allowance, an acceptance.
Dear Folks, if we live our lives without defense, without explanation, if we
give up attack and defend and right and wrong, we build a hundred Sudbury
Valleys. And if we hold on to argument, we have a hard time holding on to the
one Sudbury Valley we do have. See, if attack and defend and right and wrong
and argument were a part of Sudbury Valley, we would offer them to the
children. But, we do not. We respect them. We hold them in deep regard. And
we let them fish.
Please, if these ideas are not useful, just forget them.
(Robert, this is not an apology. This is giving up grasping these ideas. I
want to say: do not be hurt by these ideas. They are not an argument. We are
all, each of us, much more, by far, than our ideas.)
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