Bruce Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sun, 25 Mar 2001 08:27:53 -0700
>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.
1. Name me one society which does not have any rules, however informal and
unwritten they may be.
2. So which would you rather live in, a democracy or a dictatorship? If you
do not see them as equal (which you state in this quote), then which would
you prefer? If you wanted to change the rules, or if you were found in
violation of the rules, which system, do you think, offers you a greater
chance of attaining your goals?
>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.
If _I'm_ remembering correctly, only a minority of Germans were members of
the Nazi party, and Hitler's election was the result of coalition politics
and outright fraud and intimidation (can you say, "Reichstag fire"?). Most
Germans either resisted or accepted Nazi rule (out of fear, indifference,
and who knows what other reasons). This is hardly the best example of
"tyranny of the majority," as this tyranny was backed by extreme force in a
very desperate era.
>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
Martin responded well to this point, but I wish to add one thing. Our
students don't jump in, Day One, and assume an equal share of the burden.
Usually. The point is that they _can_; they have the option of exercising
their voice as soon as, and as much as, they wish. They are not excluded
from decision-making and responsibility-taking, but rather are granted the
basic human right of sharing in the decisions that affect their lives. As a
result, they learn and grow into all the adults skills you mention above,
and many more.
>I also am not convinced that rules made by others are rules I need to follow as
>long as I do not get caught.
In the Sudbury model, _everyone_ can help make and change the rules. The
sentiment you express here is what we sometimes have to overcome with new
students: the idea that it's _others'_ rules, the feeling of
self-disenfranchisement that many students learn in their previous
>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.
Here again you express an idea that many new students have to outgrow: the
notion of writing people up as "telling on" them. It is not a matter of
ratting on someone, but instead, of taking a stand that that particular
activity violates the norms of our community of respect and responsibility.
It is an individual stating that "I do not want to be at a school where
this activity is accepted." And then it's a matter of the rest of the
school discussing and deciding the merits of this complaint.
The extent to which society can intervene to prevent someone from harming
themselves is a contentious issue. Yet when it comes to the safety of
children, I know few people who would not intervene in a situation such as
walking on thin ice. Sudbury schools believe in the importance of learning
from one's own mistakes, but not when a mistake is life-threatening!
Incidentally, many (if not all) of our schools allow students to smoke, so
long as they comply with government statutes regulating that
>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
Well, I'm certainly glad this isn't a fascist program!
>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
Most of our lawbooks consist of procedural elements: duties of clerks, the
structure of School Meeting and Judicial Committee, etc. As for actual
rules, they basically boil down to just a few:
1. Don't bother or endanger people.
2. Don't bother or harm property.
3. Clean up after yourself.
Most students have to attend a certain number of hours, serve on and
testify before JC when asked, and do chores. A fairly minimal set of rules,
most of the "all I needed to know I learned in kindergarten"type, which
even the youngest kids recognize as common sense. Well, except perhaps the
cleaning up after yourself part!
"Wherever we go, there seems to be only one business at hand --
that of finding workable compromises between the sublimity
of our ideas and the absurdity of the fact of us."
-- Annie Dillard, _Teaching a Stone to Talk_
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