William Van Horn wrote -
Then these students get their direction from other students or the culture
(official and unspoken rules) of the school. If there are too many of
students in a school, because then their role models will then be others
with similar problems, the school may fail. This seems to make my point
that some kids need initial direction, whether from a teacher/mentor or
a peer group culture. And, as it was said here, some kids can not (or will
not ) adjust to the responsibility of freedom.
Jasmine Lamb replies -
In my experience as a student at Summerhill the students and culture of the
community never offered direction to the new incoming students or difficult
students, they only offered acceptance and space for students to find their
own internal guidance system. This doesn't mean they sat back and didn't
relate to them. Everyone gets involved with eachother in community.
People fight and don't get along and people fall in love! If a new kid was
causing problems for another student or faculty it would probably come to
the meeting and be dealt with there. The new student would maybe get
fined. But I stand in my strong knowing that this was in no way intended
to give the student direction. It was only intended to deal with the real
issue at hand. The community is not judgeing or guideing the students.
Maybe I'm not explaining this in the best way. Maybe someone else can do a
better job, but I feel strongly that directive learning or directive
community involvement/participation is not what is happening at Summerhill
and I doubt it is happening at any Sudbury model schools.
I also believe that all students if given the right culture and support can
adjust to the responsiblity of freedom. Unfortunately the space and
support isn't always available to the individual student. One book you
might like is Homer Lane and the Little Commonwealth. I believe the
author's name is Mrs. Beazely (spelling might be wrong). The book is out
of print. In many ways Summerhill's philosophy was modeled after the
Little Commonwealth's philosophy. What was particularly unique about the
Little Commonwealth was that it was a school exclusively for those students
society had termed "delinquent." It is amazing what the power of love and
belief in children as innately good beings can arrise in those children
many have cast aside (or in any of us for that matter).
Hope this clarification is helpful.
Vermont College of Norwich University
36 College Street
Montpelier, VT 05602
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