DSM: RE: Encouragement

Joe Jackson (shoeless@jazztbone.com)
Sun, 17 Dec 2000 10:16:26 -0500


What you ask is a complex question.

There is lots of warm encouragement, support and all other kinds of feedback
going on between students and students as well as staff and students at all
times. What I see in our school is that when a student, for instance,
brings a project to a staff member of another student the student is met
with heartfelt feedback and encouragement.

By bringing the said project to that person and asking what they think, the
student is making the first move, and clearly that would fall into the
function of a staff member as a resource.

Other situations are not so clear cut, but a good rule of thumb for staff
is, are you communicating with a student the way you would an adult casual
acquaintance? In other words, I probably wouldn't walk up to an adult I've
known for a few months and say, "Hey, I noticed you are learning Spanish,
and I just wanted to encourage you to continue that, because it's a
wonderful language and I think you find it so useful and it will blah blah

Can there be too much encouragement? Definitely. Where I don't want kids
to stay or get too far into is where they are constantly seeking adult
reinforcement for everything they do, and I think that's one of the
functions of the model, so as far as I'm concerned it is part of the model.
Some kids seem to need lots of adult encouragement, and what I try to do
with them is patiently and lovingly answer them, but do it with brevity, and
don't try to initiate encouragement. In this case the voice of an adult is
a voice of tyranny that tends to drown out their internal voice. The type
of student that fits this is generally newer ones.

I think what you are saying about how you deal with your kids is generally
how students get treated by staff at the school, but with the specific
caveat that the encouragements not preempt whatever the kid is doing. For
example, I would not walk up to a student playing video games and suggest
that they continue that knitting passion they have developed over the last
couple of months.

By the way, I encourage you to continue in your efforts regarding starting a
school. I agree that it's very difficult, and it's much easier to move
close to one (and it will strengthen the school you move to). But is it
"better"? Not necessarily. It's true that not many people make it.
However, I think regardless of what happens, your efforts will lead you to
doing better by your kids (as obnoxious as that sounds!).

-Joe Jackson
Fairhaven School
Upper Marlboro, MD

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-discuss-sudbury-model@aramis.sudval.org
[mailto:owner-discuss-sudbury-model@aramis.sudval.org]On Behalf Of CindyK
Sent: Sunday, December 17, 2000 9:23 AM
To: discuss-sudbury-model@aramis.sudval.org
Subject: DSM: Encouragement

I have noticed that there is very little encouragement involved with the
sudbury model. Whenever I have mentioned that I would like to start a
school I have been told: it's very difficult, you're better off moving
closer to one, not many people make it, etc... Now, I understand that it is
all true and I know that it weeds the garden. If, once people find out how
hard it is, and they still continue they will be more likely to succeed.
But is there no room for encouragement? I don't only mean with me. I mean
in the school. I know that the adults are to give the students room to
discover on their own. But is it a conscious effort not to encourage too
much? Is that part of the model? I believe in encouragement. Once my kids
show an interest in something, I try to encourage them to follow that
interest as long as it remains an interest. I tell them they can do
anything that they are interested in. I think that if I instead pointed out
all the difficulties, they may not even embark on the journey. My kids are
still young yet and maybe I am wrong.

This is just what I have noticed here and I would like to know if it applies
to the model. Where does encouragement fit into the Sudbury Model?

Thank you,

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