Re: DSM: about Sudbury model

John Axtell (
Fri, 23 Mar 2001 15:22:23 -0800


Please let me catch up, I did not mean to drop out of the conversation, and
clarify a point that I obviously did not do a very good job communicating.

Contrary to what you wrote below I believe a democracy is when power is given
to the majority at the expense of the minority.

The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is fairly simple. In a
democracy the rules are made by majority vote, in a dictatorship the rules are
made by a vote of one. Same result, rules. I never said a dictatorship was
equal to a democracy just that the results are the same - rules. I did say that
I am not sure that rules made by a dictator, such as Napoleon, or the Pope, are
worse than those made by the democratic process. However, I am not suggesting
that they are necessarily better either.

In a Republic rules are made by the very few which have been chosen by a
democratic process. We should remember that Hitler was democratically elected
and the only reason his conclusions are not now considered proper is that he
lost the war.

I am not convinced that a democratic model involving a bunch of children
produces particularly good results. However, I keep reading this list to enable
me to change my mind. Neither do I believe that democracy is necessarily a
very good process to reach a decision. I kind of think that a Republic is
superior to a Democratic process, but that may be simply because I live in a
Republic rather than a Democracy.

I am having a very hard time believing that children, who have done nothing to
provide financially for their own well-being, can not feed themselves, nor
clothe themselves and have done nothing to provide for the purchase of
buildings, facilities, et. have any reason to expect to, all of a sudden, have
an equal voice as others in decisions regarding these resources. Rather than
taxation without representation it seems this is representation without

I also am not convinced that rules made by others are rules I need to follow as
long as I do not get caught. As a home schooler who did so over twenty five
years ago when it was very illegal and I had the police at my door and the
social workers in my kitchen I choose to exercise my freedom to control my
family rather than accepting the supposition that others have (the school
district) had that they have a superior right to the control of my children.

We no longer home school as our last child is fully enrolled in an alternative
public school. The school expects students to not damage equipment or other
students or disrupt whatever process is going on in the room. There are no
other rules. Students attend or do not. Being a home schooler I have little
interest in the rules others would impose on my children. Obviously my children
have been taught to respect others and can function rather well in society but
they certainly do not respect the rules of others beyond what it takes to
continue functioning in the society they are in.

In the environment I have brought my children up in, and which we live in, I
have taught them the value of individual rights over "states" or "federal"
rights. When we know someone is violating a law we do not "turn them in". That
is why I had such a problem with the children "telling" on the kids that were
walking on dangerous ice. In my culture we allow those who wish to do damage to
themselves and their families to do so. Thus we allow smoking, drinking, and
other very damaging behavior to occur without "telling the authorities". We
call it respecting the rights of others and living together in a community.

You should also understand that in the state I live in school officials are
required, by law, to report to the proper state authority, any indication of
child abuse. One child was removed from her home simply because the parent
insisted the teenager do her homework and "imprisoned" her until it was done.
So I do not put much value in a school who would teach my child to report to
the "proper school authority" anything !!!! If they believe there is something
dangerous, like a gun in a backpack they can call me or their mother and we can
decide how to deal with it. Many of our students carry knives and have guns in
their cars. We have no need for "authorities" to intervene in the rights of our

The Academy Handbook I am writing will be about 30 pages long explaining how
the Academy serves mentors (parents) and students, of which a four line
paragraph spells out the entire rules of the Academy.

If a student or /and mentor wants to participate in an Academy activity they
are required to learn silent hand signals, learn formations, and wear a uniform
if the activity leader so wishes and to comply with the rules of the activity
leader. Children can hold any opinion they wish and express that opinion,
including anti or pro gay, fat, Christian, Jew, Moslem, Russian, China feelings
without risk of being judged by others. Just because someone may find pierced
ears, or other body parts offensive, or certain words offensive does not
prevent children from having whatever they want pierced or voicing their
opinions in words appropriate to their background.

So I guess the situation I am trying to learn more about, and which gives me a
lot of personal concern about the SV model, is the disparity of talk of so much
individual freedom with a concurrent mass of communication about the formation
and enforcement of rules and regulations within a school that supposedly values
the freedom of the individual. I just have not yet gotten it yet but I keep
trying :) I am also trying to justify why children that are obviously not very
competent, if they were there would be no need for so many rules, to have such
a strong say in decisions regarding the school, which they may not even be a
part of next year.

I am not convinced that a thick book of rules makes for a good educational
environment. I am trying to learn about the SV model, without the benefit of
the books and videos, to expand my thinking of how our Academy should be
formed. I have gained, and expect to gain much from this list. I just printed
out 80 pages of information from one of the schools to read.

So Joe, thanks for putting up with my questions, and trying to understand my

John Axtell

Joe Jackson wrote:

> Hi, Christopher!
> Thanks for trying to clue us in on what John meant, but you should know that
> John believes that a democracy in which the power of the majority is limited
> is not a democracy, so I can tell you in all confidence that what you posted
> is not what he meant. And doesn't really speak to what I am saying.
> Without regard to the danger for the power of the majority in a democracy to
> oppress the minority, democracy per se is the opposite of a dictatorship.
> While it is not unreasonable to state that the task of any democratic
> culture is to balance the rights of the individual with the will of the
> majority, to say that democracy is dictatorship is some pretty heinous spin.
> I don't think anyone would disagree with what you have posted here, which
> doesn't make the idea that "democracy is dictatorship of the majority" any
> less funny. Kind of like if I said "freedom is just people coercing you
> into making decisions", a quintessential way of maneuvering an inflammatory
> word in there to impart negative spin.
> And when I say, "You've got to be kidding", that's just an expression. Kind
> of like "Gimme a break!", etc. I did not literally think he's kidding, but
> it's still funny.
> Welcome!
> -Joe
> >
> > Hello,
> >
> > I too just started reading about a week ago. I've been searching
> > for something
> > better for years...yadda yadda yadda. I've just ordered the SVS
> > starter kit and
> > I'm gearing up to do some pretty serious information digestion
> > over the next
> > couple months. Is anyone else reading this in New Jersey?
> >
> > Joe Jackson wrote:
> >
> > > And I continue to be entertained by your statements about democracy.
> > > "[democracy] is... a dictatorship of the majority..."? You have to be
> > > kidding. As opposed to a dictatorship of the minority, dare I say?
> >
> > This wasn't addressed to me, but I wanted to comment.
> >
> > A pure and unfettered democracy in which the will of the people
> > on a minute by
> > minute basis to impose regulation of all kinds on the dissenters could
> > reasonably be called "a dictatorship of the majority." I see it
> > like this:
> > there were a bunch of dictators who were bad. The gave way to
> > monarchies in
> > which power was spread to varying degrees among more people. This was an
> > improvement, but still had a long way to go. We kept this trend
> > of distributed
> > power and liberty up and arrived in a world where democracy is
> > really considered
> > _it_. But I think we're not done in this evolution. While the
> > majority has the
> > power to enslave the minority, the system is still corrupt. The
> > US is better
> > than some other democracies because our bill of rights (for
> > instance) limits
> > what The People can do. Lots of limitations, or broad
> > limitations keep the
> > majority from imposing their dictatorial power on minorities
> > (meaning only the
> > group of those who disagree with the majority on any given
> > issue). I think the
> > US has a ways to go yet in confirming the unalienable power of
> > the individual as
> > a sovereign entity rather than just a cog in the machine.
> >
> > This may be the opinion that he was expressing. There are a fair
> > number who
> > would agree with all or most of what I've said, so it's not just an inane
> > viewpoint. He needn't be "kidding."
> >
> > Christopher Weeks
> > (Startup wannabe)
> >

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