I think Judith is asking some interesting questions and I will take a
stab at them.
Judith says: I would like to open a discussion of using the S.V.S.
philosophy with homeschooling. I know that there are no simple answers.
Dale says: First the SVS philosophy utilizes what I call the "fishing
hole" model. This model lets the children do what they want to do each
day. It is the educational model(but at no cost) used by most families
for their children from birth until school starts and most adults after
formal schooling ends. Hence the actual educational environments varies
greatly from the crib to the old folks home with private schools like
the granite mansion of Sudbury Valley to the cyberworld of Puget Sound
Community School. There are some government schools that attempt to use
the SVS model but are finding it more and more difficult because of the
significant changes occurring during the next few years all over the
U.S. from simple attendance requirements to state mandated performance
Judith says: I feel I understand the basis of the philosophy but there
are issues that I need input from others more well versed in this model.
These are some of the arguments or topics of discussions from people not
too familiar with S.V.S. model.
Judith Questions: Can one person be all things to each student? (In my
Possible responses: 1)You need not be. Children interested in learning
need a tool, not you. 2)Find mentors.
Dale says: Sounds good to me. When the students ask for help finding
information or have difficulty working an Algebra problem, our cooking a
pizza, or how to get the pencolor to change from black to red in a LOGO
program then the SVS school is expected to answer their questions or
show them how to find the answer or put them in contact with someone
that knows how to help them. As a homeschooling Mom you must do the
Judith Questions: Once again, the question of interaction with other
Homeschool children are mostly with their siblings. This is not to say
that they are isolated from other children. At S.V.S. (and models)
children are with other children (of all ages). How can you do that when
Dale replies: I think the SVS model allows for many different
socialization schemes. With fewer children the student will develop his
or her creative talents but with more children they will develop their
abilities to work and play with others. Your local homeschooling
organization will provide opportunities for being with other children
especially if you volunteer your own time to contribute a class in
geometry and the other parents, grandparents, etc. are willing to pitch
in also. There should be 4H clubs, choirs, churches, working on
political campaigns, jobsÖÖ.. In my opinion the world actually temps one
with too many opportunities to socialize and not enough quiet times.
Judith Questions: Iíve been asked, "How many homes are democratically
run?" Iíve been told, "You canít do both (democratic school and home,
democratic or not) in the same setting."
Dale doesn't reply: This is a hard one for me for I am not a big fan of
Judith Questions: After getting across to others the idea of allowing
them to learn what they are interested in, I still get asked, "What
about the state?"
Dale replies: I think this varies from state to state and within school
districts. From listening to other's experiences I gather that you
will have to work this out with the authorities but generally the
present requirements are so easy your children can pass them with a
minimum of study. Of course that could change and you will want to
watch out for "Goals 2000" effects on all educational environments
including the homeschooling communities.
Judith says: From what I understand, the real essence of this model is
to allow children to be responsible for themselves, their learning,
their actions. By allowing children this freedom they discover a
crucial sense lacking in the typical school setting; the sense of self.
Do you find that by allowing this discovery to evolve, there is less
Dale replies: Yes. But your homeschooled children will experience less
adolescent "rebellion" whether you use the SVS model or not.
Judith says: Itís been stated that there is no dyslexia or attention
deficit at S.V.S. As to A.D.D., why do you think it has become so
My short opinion: it is unwittingly taught by the unrelatedness of
subjects and time allotments for class, let alone the disinterest of the
Are there some children that are just not interested .... or is it that
what they are interested in has yet to be discovered by them...or does
this relate to the sense of self ..... could their lack of ability to
focus be biochemical .... do you think this is a social/culturally
Most of these children labeled A.D.D. can focus and maintain attention
given that they are interested. Why is this so overlooked?
Dale replies: I agree with you. These "problems" are in rapid growth
because the school districts get extra $$$ for learning disabled
children. I don't want to get into what I think about the present
establishment because I am trying to focus on a better future but lets
just sum it up by saying: How would you react if you were forced to
spend 5 hours a day with a person and 30 other children not of your own
choosing doing what you do not want to do and seeing no reason for it?
I think many of the children eventually conclude that the purpose of
school is to keep the children out of the adult's hair and out of the
job market as long as possible. As John Holt said, one of the purposes
of school is to make the children as miserable as many adults are. I
think you would invent mental illnesses and other attention gathering
methods such as fist fights, drugs, promiscuous sex, ADD ÖÖ. Very sad.
Judith, your four children are very fortunate to have a thinking parent
that is taking responsibility for their education. Personally if
homeschooling had been legal when I was a boy or when my two boys were
students my Dad and Katy and I would not of used the SVS model. If I
was starting a school now it would not be based on the SVS model. But I
do like choices and it seems to work well for some children. I have
certainly benefited from reading about, thinking about and discussing