Re: DSM: Re: Subtle Coercion?

Dana Matthew Bennis (
Sun, 07 Jan 2001 21:33:41 -0500

In response to those who are deciding whether the person who recommended a
book was acting appropriately or inappropriately, I find it rather hard to
believe that anyone can judge something without actually being a part of
the situation.

Lets give people a bit of a break and not jump on their backs.

In response to an email from (I don't know your name!),
when you said:

"I don't think it's (Summerhill's) more democratic. But I think it
surpasses the SM model in
some ways. As I think the SM model surpasses Summerhil in some ways.
Both provide freedom for children. It's not a contest to me.
I am in debt to A.S. Neil and Summerhil for doing this long before we
Americans did.
And I am in debt to Daniel Greenberg for Sudbury."


Its nice to read something from someone who can actually consider and
praise two different schools for each of their wonderful qualities! I
completely agree with you - I do not think it is a contest.
Derek, you mentioned that you want to help spread the word of alternative
schools, attending a conference in Sydney. Great to hear! You also said:

"Whilst we want to be co-operative, we are also conscious that
we are in competition with these other Schools, in what is currently (even
though it will change slowly over time) a limited market that is accepting
of different educational concepts."

Why do you see it as competition? Are you in danger of not having enough
money to run the school? (I am seriously curious) Although that must be
an extremely tough position, I can't accept the view that democratic
schools are in competition with each other. Sure, it makes logical
"business" sense with regard to increasing enrollment and obtaining enough
money. But should we think of this wonderful thing we are giving kids as a
"business"? (I do not in ANY form mean to imply that money issues are not
important, they of course are very important). If we can drop that and
instead think that we have a common hope and cause (giving as many children
as possible a better education) than much more can be done. If we view it
as a competition, I believe it is a guarantee that less will be
accomplished and at a slower rate.

I also understand why you think that attending more conferences and
becoming a member of alternative education organizations can submerge your
identity and group you with other schools that are not _as_ democratic or
"free." Knowing the strength and convictions of nearly all Sudbury people
on this listserve, I don't think there is any way that the Sudbury identity
would be gobbled up or become less clear. Also, even though some other
schools may not be _as_ democratic (or free, etc.), don't you think that
staff and students at these schools would still have valuable information
about alternative education, and that more communication with them could
bring to the fore more ideas? And still further, as most of you (and I)
believe, many of these schools are less democratic . . . however, they are
a hell of a lot better and more student-centered than traditional schools,
and wouldn't staff and students at those better schools possibly be more
apt to agree with and apply the more democratic and student-centered ideas
and practices of Sudbury schools?


At 05:56 PM 1/7/01 -0500, you wrote:
>Someone (I forget who) gave this example of an adult-adult interaction:
>> > Here's an example: I have an adult friend who recently told me she has
>> > little interest in reading. I balked at this as I find it quite sad and
>> > offered that she try some children's books which are easier and which I
>> > frequently read myself. She did not ask me if I knew any good
>> > ones or if I
>> > knew where she could get one, but I took the initiative and offered "The
>> > Giver" as I'd read it recently and really enjoyed it. She took
>> > it and read
>> > it and liked it of her own volition. Hers was the freedom to
>> > choose to read
>> > it or not to read it. It had nothing to do with my not making the
>> > suggestion for fear of forcing her into it. That would have been
>Joe responded:
>> Well, if by using this as a test case of something that would be
>> inappropriate for a staff to say to a student, then you are correct.
>Joe (and others who may agree with him),
>I would like to hear more about your view of this as an inappropriate
>staff - student interaction. It sounds perfectly reasonable to me. There is
>no coercion and the other person brought up the subject. The "staff" person
>simply responded with their own take on the situation and with a suggestion.
>~Alan Klein

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b3 on Thu Mar 29 2001 - 11:16:03 EST