The Booroobin Sudbury School (email@example.com)
Sun, 25 Mar 2001 10:23:04 +1000
Hi Marko and others,
I have been interested in the discussions, which I think others probably do
better when it comes to the fine points. Time limits my ability to become
fully engaged. I just thought I would comment that in the process of
establishing our School we had a broader vision of what we were creating,
and what it could become (and still do). I had a lot of experience as an
elected Director or Executive Committee member of a range of not for profit
organisations serving communities of interest. The town of Maleny where we
chose to live, and out of which the Learning Centre (our original term, but
later changed to School, when Students democratically decided the name over
3 SM's) has a reputation of being the co-operative capital in Australia. It
had more registered Co-Operatives per head of population than anywhere else
in Oz. I don't know whether you know much about Co-Ops, but they're
supposed to mean what they are called. Experience has shown that they
usually don't, because there is more idealism than enterprise, with most of
the work left to very few. I worked with others in the town to establish a
few Co-Ops, including a licensed Club, a community arts organisation, etc.
I became enamoured with the concept of consensus. While working as Staff
(they called my role management) of the local Credit Union I recommended and
supported the introduction of consensus decision making into the revised
Rules of the Credit Union. By the time we working on the Rules of the not
for profit Co-Op we were establishing to operate the School, consensus was
the agreed decision making method. Within 2 years of the Co-Op being
established and registered, I moved that the Co-Op be converted to a not for
profit Company (which the relevant Co-Op legislation provided for), and for
democratic (majority) decision making to be implemented. All of this
happened and was agreed unanimously. The reason for the change was that
decisions were not being made. Especially business decisions, requiring
timely, effective decisions, like purchasing property - the School campus.
There was too much pain for those very individual, independently minded
Members (maybe, but unlikely to be only an Australian trait) to accept that
they were the only ones not in agreement with the great majority on
particular Motions. I have researched and know the many processes and
stages involved in arriving at consensus, which includes, by the way, being
prepared to step aside to allow a decision to be made. We lost people, good
people, in that process, because it hurt them too much (not because the
working group wanted that to happen). Then and since, most decisions have
been effectively consensual. But there are times, when individuals are not
prepared to compromise - especially when it comes to values, philosophy and
money. And consensus relies on compromise. My experience also tells me
very clearly, that in the same way, the democracy of a School Meeting and
the JC empowers people of all ages to speak and be heard, knowing that there
is the structure of the democratic School mechanisms to support them. I
also know as a father that children are intelligent and have the ability to
work out and decide more things than I could ever attempt to do for them in
a variety of ways that I could never attempt to replicate. I believe that
other processes disempowers people, especially those who are quiet,
unassertive. Mediation is not always empowering. It can disempower people,
because it relies on someone else, not the people themselves, to assist to
resolve an issue. When do the people involved learn? The SVM does provide
for a whole range of processes that support active communication and
solutions. Our JC has required mediation in the past.
The Booroobin Sudbury School
Ph/fax +61 07 5499 9944
----- Original Message -----
From: "Marko Koskinen" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Sunday, March 25, 2001 8:29 AM
Subject: Re: DSM: about Sudbury model
> Joe wrote:
> > What I write to you is in response to the fact that you said previously
> > you are against community norms. If you are reconsidering that then my
> > points don't apply.
> I probably agree with you here. I really haven't made up my mind about
> this issue yet... =)
> > You have suggested mediation as something that could be added, yet it's
> > already there. You have suggested consensus, yet if it has not been
> > formally by many schools it certainly has been used informally, and
> > used at any time if the students and staff thought it best.
> Yes, I agree. I don't have experience with other schools than SVS, so I
> can't tell what are the practices in different schools. So I guess if
> I've said that I disagree with the model, I should alter my position.
> We're probably sticking with the model, but how we (I) would want to do
> in that model is as follows in a nutshell:
> - no rules (except possible by-laws that would be required by the
> - guidelines that aren't enforced
> - problems solved on a personal level with a possible help from a
> - mediators are chosen by the School Meeting
> - School Meeting operates by consensus decision making
> - Assembly would be the highest decision making forum and would probably
> function democratically (???)
> - School Meeting would make decision in all the matters that the
> Assembly doesn't
> - All students and staff members would be School Meeting Members
> This is practically how I picture the school that I would want (now). I
> am happy to change my position in any of these issues if I find the
> reasoning good enough.
> > To suggest that democracy and freedom are are not at congruent ends is
> > suggest that governance is optional. It is not, and democracy (the
> > definition of which does not exclude the representative republics
> > for governing large communities, John) is the system that gives equality
> > freedom the best chance of existing.
> Well, I guess we've discussed this alot and I still disagree. I consider
> consensus decision making the best alternative if the goal is individual
> freedom, but I also agree that it may not work in all situations, at
> least I can imagine situations when it would be very hard to accomplish.
> > The only people I have ever heard argue otherwise are folks that think
> > know what's better for people than the people do (but please believe me
> > I am not thinking of or accusing you when I say that).
> I think I know what's best (or better) for many people but I also think
> that there are no means for me to make them do those things. The best
> way to influence people to do things that I consider best for them is to
> act according to my beliefs myself and be a "role model" and to support
> them so that they could think more clearly.
> > While these bodies define ion many ways what Sudbury Valley School is, I
> > don't think those bodies will attempt to say what is or isn't a SM
> > The only people that can say what they think is or isn't are
> > and they can only say it for themselves.
> I guess I agree.
> > Moreover, my point to you a thousand times over, is that your
> > already ARE included in the Sudbury Model to the extent that the model
> > choose them in thousands of big and little ways every day. The only
> > possible difference in what you are suggesting can be in the way you
> > implement your ideas.
> I'm not really sure if I can agree with you. If you agree that all the
> aspects that I've mentioned above in the list are already implemented in
> some Sudbury Schools, then I agree. If not, then I disagree, because I
> think there's a big difference in doing something and having the
> possibility to do something.
> > > So I guess that's the end of that discussion...
> > OK, mano.
> Just to give room for other discussions... =)
> > Take it easy,
> Thanks, I'll try... =)
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b3 on Thu Mar 29 2001 - 11:17:19 EST