Re[2]: DSM: about Sudbury model

David Rovner (
Tue, 13 Mar 2001 16:43:41 +0200

Marko & others,
One more quote:

. . .
4. In a truly democratic school, where all views are aired and debated,
decisions will finally be arrived at through CONSENSUS.

           People ask, "isn't it a defect of the school that you
often have deep and sharp divisions within you, and must
often arrive at decisions through a bitterly contested vote?"
This attitude reflects a view popular since the Enlightenment,
that in an environment of free exchange of ideas, Reason
should always guide us to the Best Solution. As applied to
the school, the argument of this critics is as follows: "If the
school was really as democratic as it claims to be, then all
controversies would receive a full, thorough, and dispassionate
airing, and in the end the view with the greatest merit and good
sense would prevail, by CONSENSUS. The fact that the school
often has persistent divisions that must be decided by a split
vote shows that there is some defect in the democratic
process, so that instead of a free airing of ideas, the school is
merely getting a power-play between factions."
            This attitude, though especially popular in this days of
CONSENSUS, love, encounter groups, team problem
solving, etc., nevertheless is essentially in error in its basic
assumption that calm reason produces a Best Solution for
every problem. In fact, only a minute number of essentially
technical problems have a single best solution. The more
complex problems of everyday living have a host of solutions,
many of them equally good alternatives backed by equally valid
arguments. Men of good faith, good intelligence, and sound
reason often differ profoundly on which of these alternatives
to pursue.
             Indeed, the mark of democracy is the ABSENCE of
CONSENSUS. Democratic procedure implies that all the
conflicting alternatives be given a full and equal hearing, and be
respected and allowed to persist even when their proponents
are in the minority. In a democracy, CONSENSUS is a rare and
short-lived accident, as this country found out in the 1960's.
REPEATED CONSENSUS is always a symptom of powerful
communal pressure to force the dissenting minority to abandon
its position and accept the prevailing view.

              For myself, I always heave a sigh of relieve when a
hotly contested issue comes to the floor of the School Meeting
or the Assembly, because I see in the very existence of such
issues a reaffirmation of our adherence to democratic
. . .

["FIVE MYTHS ABOUT DEMOCRACY" -- 4. In a truly democratic
school, where all views are aired and debated, decisions will
finally be arrived at through consensus", FIVE MYTHS ABOUT
DEMOCRACY, Daniel Greenberg, The Sudbury Valley School
Experience, 1992, P. 136-137.]

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b3 on Thu Mar 29 2001 - 11:17:06 EST