Re: DSM: about Sudbury model

Mike Sadofsky (
Fri, 23 Mar 2001 21:31:17 -0500

First, I was NOT expressing an opinion about what people should and
should not be discussing on this mail list. That was not my goal and
I hope something I will never do.

What I was responding to was the discussion that seemed to imply that
a stated set of 'cultural norms' was indicative of the sudbury model.
I found the 'norms' anything but what I would consider 'cultural
norms.' Rather they seemed to describe beliefs that individuals might
hold, but precisely the kind of beliefs where sudbury model schools
are concerned about actions that can derive from such beliefs. In
fact, such actions aren't tolerated in sudbury model schools.

Perhaps I was alone in feeling that there was an implication that such
beliefs were prevalent in sudbury model schools. If so, my post
should have no impact.

Do people see democratic decision making as part of the underlying
philosophy of the model, you ask? Some may, others might ask what
would take its place? My opinion is that without an opportunity for
each individual to have the opportunity for an equal role in decision
making, and for all individuals do bear the responsibility of living
with the community decisions, the model is indeed broken. In what I
have read, I have yet to find a description of a coherent alternative
to the process in place in sudbury model schools.

Incidentally, to my understanding, 'cultural norms' are more like the
10 commandments, and practicing personal hygiene. Many are codified
in the rules of the political system; others are practiced by people
who want to be part of society. Within that structure there exists a
great deal of room for personal beliefs, attitudes, and private
practices. As long as these don't impact on the society, we, as a
society, tend to be very tolerant. But when those beliefs, attitudes,
and practices become public and impinge on the social mores, issues
arise. Meanwhile, we seem to agree that people DO discuss such
beliefs. They debate, they attempt to share views and perspectives,
to argue and to convert people away from some beliefs and toward
others. And this goes on at sudbury model schools just as it does in
the wider society.

I think this says enough about where I am coming from with my remarks.

On Fri, 23 Mar 2001 00:09:01 -0500, Marko wrote:

>Mike Sadofsky wrote:
>> But I am concerned about the level of
>> discussion of this topic in this forum, because from what I have read,
>> his premise appears to have no context here.
>I'm not sure if I understand you right here. Are you saying that what
>I'm suggesting has nothing to do with Sudbury Model and thus shouldn't
>be discuessed here? If so, I'm very puzzled that what people here (IYO)
>_should_ be discussing... And I still argue that what I've proposed all
>can be implemented in a Sudbury Model School without braking the
>underlying philosophy, unless people see democratic decision making and
>the JC as essential parts of a Sudbury Model School. But in that case I
>really have to re-evaluate my thinking about Sudbury Model.
>> Should anyone reading this post and participating in a discussion of
>> the sudbury model feel that these phrases (I don't know where they may
>> be cultural 'norms') represent the mores at sudbury schools, let me
>> explicitly say that this is not the case. In my 33 years of exposure
>> to the model, I can unequivocally state that I find not one of these
>> as having any validity within the sudbury model.
>Yes I agree. The phrases don't have anything to do with the Sudbury
>Model, but they have a lot to do with people working as staff members
>and with students there. Sudbury Model schools aren't isolated from the
>bigger society and the norms of the bigger society find their ways to
>the Sudbury Model schools. And if the staff doesn't fight the norms they
>find irrational, then one aspect of freedom is missing (IMO). And with
>this I don't mean that the staff members of current Sudbury Model
>Schools don't fight the norms, of course they do, but I just want to
>emphasize this aspect because I think it needs to be emphasized.

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