Re: DSM: about Sudbury model

John Axtell (
Mon, 26 Mar 2001 11:31:42 -0800


I better understand your points. Thank you for taking the time to clarify them.

I believe that people best learn the "realities of life" in a protective
environment. I do not see the basic SV model as being a protective environment but
one in which, as in all democracies, those with the best verbal communication
skills, usually win out, which has nothing to do with which idea is really better.

I think our schools do a reasonably good job of preparing 18 year olds to go to
war and to vote with some intelligence.

Bruce Smith wrote:

How else will people learn these "realities of life"? By being denied any

> substantive involvement in them until they are 18, and then dumped out into
> society totally unprepared? Or by practicing them in a supportive
> environment, gradually learning the requisite skills and responsibility?
> >If in fact the above three rules are the only rules that people are brought up
> >before a JC I have totally misunderstood the nature of the many comments
> >about the
> >JC.
> >
> >I have no problem with those three rules at all and totally agree with them.
> My three "rules" were actually a distillation of a number of more specific
> laws. To get a bit more precise, here is a sampling from the AVS lawbook
> (from memory, so not necessarily verbatim)...
> A3.1 No one may infringe on anyone's right to exist peaceably at school,
> free of verbal or physical harrassment.
> A3.2 No one may knowingly disrupt anyone's activity at school.
> A3.4 Running and/or roughhousing are not permitted in the building.
> A4.1 People are expected to pick up after themselves; activities that are
> left for up to ten minutes do not violate this rule.
> A4.2(a) People may not use personal property without the owner's permission.
> ...and so on; all elaborations of those basic principles I cited in my last
> post. Do you still totally agree with this stuff?

Again, basic safety and self respect rules/norms I have no problem with. But many
on this list have suggested that the JC spends quite a bit of time on issues
substantially different from the above.

> >You said:
> >"but rather are granted the
> >basic human right of sharing in the decisions that affect their lives."
> >
> >I submit that it is neither a basic human right or a human right at all
> >and that it
> >must be fought for, earned, and cherished if the right, if once achieved
> >by force
> >and/or power, is to be retained. In our school it is a right that must be
> >earned.
> I never said, or meant to imply, that basic human rights do not have to be
> fought for and should not be cherished (as well all know, the "inalienable
> rights" sought in the Declaration of Independence had to be followed by a
> war). "Basic" or "inalienable" simply implies that these rights belong to
> people by virtue of their humanity, and ought not be denied. In the end,
> what do Sudbury schools represent if not a fighting for, and cherishing of,
> the crazy idea that kids are people, worthy of our full respect?

Here we may just simply not understand each other.

I do not equate basic human rights with respecting our kids, which I do not think
is a crazy idea. I respect kids - a lot !!! I am just having a problem with
allowing them to vote on issues that I simply do not respect their judgments on.
Because I do not respect their judgments on million dollar decisions does not mean
I do not respect them as individuals or their ability on where to have the senior
prom. I just see the two as totally different. The concept that the SV model seems
to say is that the "assembly" or whatever it is called, has the ultimate decision
making authority in all matters. I just can not see the value of putting those
kinds of decisions at risk because a bunch of students have decided to vote a
certain way.

When I write policy I put the decision making authority at the level that would
logically be prepared to make that level of decision not somewhere where it is
unlikely the participants would have the knowledge to make an informed decision.

I may not understand the model correctly but as I read the list it seems to me
that the students are given a wide range of power.


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