Re: DSM: sudbury questions

Alan Mitter-Burke (
Fri, 19 Nov 1999 20:59:05 -0800 (PST)

--- Liz Palmer <> wrote:
> Yay! There's some discussion on here. Maybe this
> email will generate a
> little more...?
> I was wondering if you Sudbury folks could answer a
> couple of questions.
> I'm an education student in Kentucky, and for the
> last few years I've been
> interested in Sudbury schools and perhaps even
> beginning one in Louisville
> in a few years (if I manage to round up some
> interested colleagues). I'm
> just wondering, since Web pages have such a limited
> amount of information
> about them, about individuals who may have had
> negative experiences at
> Sudbury schools. Did you ever notice students that
> just didn't respond well
> to the atmosphere,

You would have to be more specific than this. What do
you mean by respond "well"? What do you mean by
"respond"? By "atmosphere" do you mean particular
individuals who presented problems, or do you mean the
culture and philosophy of the school?

or whose parents couldn't handle
> giving them the freedom
> they need to find themselves?

Many parents develop problems with the school and the
model. They sign up, they think they understand it,
but down the line they decide they can't accept it.
Sudbury schools struggle hard at the admissions
interview to preclude this problem, but it is
perrenial. Another version of it is when one parent
disagrees and the other doesn't.

What about staff
> members that were too
> authoritarian?

The School Meeting decides who is "too" anything.
Remember that staff are elected...

How much are the staff expected to
> help students, or are
> they simply expected to help students ask the right
> questions and then
> allow students seek out their own answers?

Not even. Staff are expected to respond to
initiatives from students, but students define what
the "right" questions are.

How does
> Sudbury's school
> meetings/assembly respond to these problems, if they
> exist at all?
> I hope you all don't mind me asking these questions,
> but I just want to be
> prepared for the practical reality of starting a
> free school. I read about
> the downfall of a free school in Durham recently,
> and it makes me reluctant
> to go into this without anticipating certain common
> problems.

Liz, many implications from the questions you pose are
thoroughly discussed in the various books available
from the School's Press. Give them a read, and keep
thinking! There are a lot of schools out there based
on this model which are thriving based on the
determined efforts of a small core...


> Thanks,
> Liz
> Brat
> The Four Rules of Activism:
> If you can't do something, don't say that you can;
> If you commit to something, don't back out of the
> plan;
> If you will do something, don't say that you won't;
> If you believe in something, don't act like you
> don't.

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