DSM: metaconversations

Melissa Bradford (mbradford@mediaone.net)
Tue, 12 Dec 2000 13:55:33 -0600

Dear Joe,

Nicely said.

I'm not crazy about "metaconversations" myself, but I would submit that on a
list like this, metaconversation has some unique relevance in the sense we
are all attempting to have a discussion here with some very different
viewpoints, and the same takes place at Sudbury schools, in both formal and
informal situations; in fact, it is central to the model.

For example, school meetings and assemblies have their share of
"relativists" and "absolutists" and communication is interesting, yet
difficult, and, at times, fraught with emotions, perspectives, accusations,
unexpected interpretations, and misunderstandings. This is part of what
makes the school meeting such a powerful learning experience for those who
choose to participate.

As someone who can tend toward the absolutist extreme, I have had to learn a
lot about communicating with others in terms of finding ways to persuade
others, not just sound like I'm trying to prove that I'm right. Well, let
me rephrase that. I haven't HAD to learn that, but I have chosen to try
because I want votes to go my way. (Of course, we don't vote for anything
on this list, so there is not the same incentive to communicate in this
way.) I have also had to learn to take what I hear from others and not jump
to different kinds of interpretations, or get emotional or defensive, but
rather try to hear the grain of "truth" in whatever has been said, or ask
clarifying questions, so I can really understand this person's perspective,
whether I agree or not, instead of focusing on the part that offends me.

So, hope you don't mind me walking further down the "metaconversations"
path. Obviously, people can choose to talk to each other in any way they
want, and we all have the "delete" option. I just wanted to say that I
happen to find this topic of "absolutists" and "relativists" quite
interesting for the reason I mentioned, and I like how you explained it.

Aside: Eduardo's question about the difference between how adults approach
the model vs. how students or former students approach it is a good one. In
my limited experience, I feel like I have observed a difference, but I don't
think I could do a good job of putting it into words.

Melissa, LVS

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