Re: DSM: about Sudbury model

John Axtell (
Mon, 26 Mar 2001 11:33:18 -0800


My comments must be too obtuse. Let me try to make my point clearer.

I have no problem with young students actively participating in practicing making
decisions at whatever level you want them to practice.

Your examples are from the world of art and I will try to stay there. I played a
musical instrument. Hours are spent practicing alone. Then hours are spent
practicing in a group (since democracy is a group activity I will not deal with
the person who plays an instrument that is not part of a group). Only when certain
"tests" are passed would one, normally, be allowed to play in a major concert
hall. Certainly there would have been the recital for the family, the concert in
the church, or whatever leading up to a major performance where people actually
pay big bucks to hear the great performance.

What I hear you and others saying in this group is that in a SV model it is
necessary to let the children with no experience vote on major ( concert hall
like) issues without the necessary growth from one stage to the next.

I do not have any problem with students being given responsibility after they have
demonstrated competency.

So to follow your example when they have earned the right to participate in major
decision making like the cello student did I do not have a problem with the

I agree with your concept of proportion. That is exactly what I am talking about.
Kids should be given decisions to make of which they are competent to make.


Mitch Berg wrote:

> While I try to stay out of some of the endlessly-recursive philosophical
> discussions that make this list, "active", I couldn't pass this one up.
> At 09:26 AM 3/25/2001 -0800, John Axtell wrote:
> >First and foremost in our country you do not have the right to vote until
> >you are
> >18 and by the time you are 18, as you said, you have been paying a lot of
> >taxes
> >without being able to vote.
> Let me give you a counterexample: when you learn a musical instrument -
> say, cello - you don't jump into a chair in a concert orchestra as soon as
> you know where to hold the bow. You learn the instrument. You learn to
> handle it, generate a tone, read and play music, and even how to behave as
> a member of a concert orchestra (how to sit, concert manners and
> discipline). You don't have the "right" to play in a concert - but you
> spend your years learning the instrument knowing that the concert is your
> goal. The same example holds for sports, flying fighter planes, being a
> surgeon...
> Why should children NOT grow up *practicing* their rights? Not in a
> meaningless, contrived way - kids aren't stupid - but in a way that affects
> their lives in the same proportion that they will in adult life?
> >In our country, in most
> >states, you do not have the right to drive until you are 16 and have
> >passed a test.
> BUT! Most kids learn the "rules of the road" while riding their
> bikes. And they have many of the same responsibilities as drivers - "don't
> get killed" being a big one.


I really do not care where kids learn to drive as long as the "pass the test". The
can still, and many manage to, kill themselves and others. While they may have the
same responsibility as drivers to not get killed few people have been killed by
children riding bikes.

> >My point is that I am still troubled by the concept of letting individuals
> >who have
> >little or no knowledge of the realities of life should somehow be part of the
> >decision making model. Certainly they may express their opinion but to
> >allow them a
> >vote is a bit much for me.
> That's sort of like teaching a musician how to read sheet music, but never
> allowing them to actually play their instrument. When the time comes to
> finally exercise "grown-up" rights, making the jump from theory to practice
> will be that much more incongruous.

Hey - I do not mind letting them play their instrument, just do it in private
where it has no impact on others until it sounds reasonable - ie it does not hurt
the ears too much :)

They can practice decision making in many areas that have a minor impact on their
lives. Just as you said the kid learns to ride a bike, then drive a car, he does
not get the keys to the car when he is eight ! Neither should he, in my opinion,
get the right to elect a President of a country when he is eight ! Frankly I do
not think 18 year olds, in the United States, have an incongruous time the first
time they really vote in an election as they, most often, have practiced voting in
school for presidents for at least two or three years when their vote really did
not count.

Hope this clarifies my concept of education for you and many thanks for the


> Mitch Berg
> Saint Paul

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