DSM: 60 Minutes Piece

From: Mitch Berg (mitch@usinternet.com)
Date: Tue May 01 2001 - 21:37:59 EDT


I have seen almost no discussion of the "60 Minutes" piece on Sudbury last
Sunday. So I'll toss out my observations.

Background: I'm a former reporter and producer. I have strong opinions on
news coverage - and while 60 Minutes is certainly not bound to present
pro-Sudbury propaganda, I would have liked to see more balance. I'm also NOT
involved in a Sudbury school at the moment, although if anyone from the Twin
Cities is reading this, please contact me!

I thought this piece was generally very unfavorable to Sudbury. In
corresponding offline with another member of this list earlier, the
impression I got was that the piece emphasized the elements of Sudbury that
people in traditional schools would find the most "freakish" - the lack of
formal structure, the constant reiteration of themes like "relaxation"
(while not touching on themes like "self-direction" or "individual
responsibility"). The School Meeting and the Judicial Committee were
touched on only trivially, and the actual achievements (as I understand
them) of Sudbury students were all but overlooked. The place was made to
look like a permissive hippie commune school. I realize that's probably not
a real black mark to some of you - work with me, here.

The sight of kids smoking outside the school couldn't help but shock most
"traditional" parents.

Morley Safer interviewed a panel of parents; are any of those parents on
this list? I'd be interested in hearing what parts of that panel interview
got left on the cutting room floor (as it were). I felt the parents came
across especially badly (speaking of overall effect, not personally) in the
interview.

Upsides: I thought Dan Greenberg came across head, shoulders and ankles
better than the woman from the Massachusetts Dept. of Education, who seemed
like a fussbudgety apparatchik who left gaping holes just begging to be
called out.

And the 11-year-old girl (don't recall the name) was also very impressive.
She came across like a very poised high school senior (Dad was a speech
teacher, I was in broadcast - I value and closely criticize these things).

This is sort of a grab bag of first impressions of the piece. I'm
interested in what the rest of you think.

Mitch Berg
Saint Paul

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