RE: DSM:

From: Joe Jackson (shoeless@jazztbone.com)
Date: Fri Oct 26 2001 - 16:13:38 EDT


Dear William,

I'm not sure why you seem to be striking the pose of an apologist for
your friend with such apparent relish, and I'm not sure how anyone could
possible argue the points that:

- The only thing that separates great people from people who have
impacted human culture is recognition (fame),

- Sudbury schools haven't produced enough people to make any
statistically sound qualified conclusions about whether graduates are
more likely to be recognized as influencers of human culture, and

- Becoming known influencers of human culture is likely not very
important to the kind of parents that seek Sudbury environments for
their children.

And even I, a jazz musician who acknowledges the influence the Beatles
have had on the pop music industry would not even remotely compare their
contributions to Bach's. So I realize many might find frustrating the
modern fact of life that there is no longer a consensus of what is
merely good and what is great in art and literature, but can we agree
that this is a completely different phenomenon than debating whether Joe
Jackson can write as well as Alice Walker?

Nevertheless, without regard to you and I differing on the philosophical
underpinnings of the matter, on to the practical issue:

> How can we convince reluctant parents and administrators that student
choice works?

It is important for us to portray the model in a smuch honesty as we
can, and to get that information and the knowledge that we exist out to
the public, and to the thousands of families that do not know Sudbury
exists, and exclaim "this is exactly what I've dreamed of!" when they
find us.

But to attempt to either prove or disprove the efficacy of the model in
terms of how many, as you say, Alice Walkers and Bill Gateses and Ralph
Naders is counter-representative of the process-oriented goals possesed
by the vast majority of parents who will prove to be committed to the
model long-term, in my experience.

The kind of families that tend to be committed in the long term are
these families that know how great the school is the minute they hear
about it, and believe me there are tons of them out there, and all of my
energy is focused on getting the word to them.

So my point is that while I believe I could shoot holes in your
questioner's entire line of reasoning from here to Saturday, it doesn't
matter, because the question is not a relevent line of pursuit in terms
of attacking or defending this model. It's a great line of reasoning
for discussing conventional government-run schools because people that
believe that recognition is important and/or related to schooling love
the conventional adult-driven-curriculum model.

In terms of outcomes, I feel the Sudbury model does dramatic things for
a child; unfortunately they are all really subjective things that a
parent either sees or doesn't see when they visit a school, and
explaining these wonderful subjective outcomes to data-driven
evaluative-outcome people is about as productive as driving a masonry
screw into your forehead.

If a parent is really that goal-oriented in terms of seeing and proving
an outcome, they are probably bad prospects for Sudbury schooling in the
long run, and doubly not worth the time.

> And I think that we need a broader acceptance of student choice
education than the
> isolated spots of Sudbury schools.

I agree, but I'm quite sure that you and I have substantially differing
visions in terms of how this change would occur; these differences are
likely due mainly to our experiences and present circumstances. And
while I am well familiar with the criticisms of Sudbury schooling in
particular, I find that Sudbury schools are finding comparatively rapid
acceptance within our society, and I believe that the vast majority of
people will only see Sudbury schooling as a viable educational
alternative when they see enough people attending them.

There are much, much too many people out there that are hungry for
precisely what our school has to offer for me to waste much time trying
to convince critics. If, on the other hand, you are attempting to set
up a "Sudbury-like" atmosphere in a conventional classroom, I cannot
really advise you, and good luck.

Happy Halloween everyone.

-Joe

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org
[mailto:owner-discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org] On Behalf Of william van
horn
Sent: Friday, October 26, 2001 10:15 AM
To: discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org
Subject: Re: DSM:

Joe:

First place, "culture" in this sense does not mean cool jazz or white
wine with fish. It is the assumptions and attitudes of a group of
people. The US has many cultures but it also has an overall culture,
agreed to by most of the people living within it. Culture as Greenberg
speaks of it in "A New Look at Schools." And those people who have
created broad cultural changes are not always famous. You might say that
those scientists currently working on human cloning (whether you like it
or not) will be significant contributors to our culture. Bill Gates, the
founder of Amazon.com, Ralph Nader, Alice Walker, Paul Simon and Lady
Smith Mambazo, Jane Goodall, Art Fry, etc. You get the idea. The people
in the media are usually more broadly known, but this does not
intrinsically make them any less or more significant. These and others
are those people who have done or created something new and created
ripples throughout our world. Usually they have built on others that
went before them, but these people had the luck or curse of getting it
into the public's eye. Ex: Paul Simon collaborated with Lady Smith on
his Graceland album which opened the door for other cross-cultural
collaborations and incorporations in popular music. Fry used research
done by someone else and designed Post It notes for 3M and all of us
forgetful citizens. Many of the people who have made contributions did
not start out wanting out be rich and famous. They were just trying to
be the best they could be in their fields.

Saying that there is no consensus on what is art or what is a cultural
contribution is a lazy way out, fearful of making distinctions of
importance. It’s the ultimate in sloppy democracy. I'm okay, you're
okay, and we are all equal and good. I'm sorry, but Walker is a better
writer than you or me. And even though all of the publisher's, editors,
printers, and clerks at the bookstores that she relies on are important
in their own right, her thoughts and words are still more distinctive.

"Just for fun, someone name me five people in the world today who are
changing our culture in the same breadth and degree of unequivocality
that Julius Ceasar, Johann Sebastian Bach and Albert Einstein did in
their respective cultures."

Steve Jobs
Wozniak
Bill Gates
Osama bin Laden, if indeed he is responsible for the attacks Paul
McCartney (and the rest of the Beatles) The person who developed the
Internet (can't think of his name)

These people, for good or bad, have changed the basics of our culture.

As for why the question is asked about Sudbury's contribution…… You may
feel that you have found the perfect school for yourself or your
children, and to hell with everyone else who doesn't have your insight.
But I am looking how to change the system to give the opportunities that
Sudbury allows to everyone other student. I see this as a necessary step
for the growth of our world culture and more personally, my own country
(USA). Though Summerhill and Sudbury are great models, I am sure you
know the objections to a democratic school. How can we convince
reluctant parents and administrators that student choice works? They
want some kind of proof of personal success for the students (as
Greenberg demonstrated in his book "Legacy of Trust"). But it would also
help to convince them to show those that make those significant
contributions. Most people are going to need some convincing in terms
they can understand. And I think that we need a broader acceptance of
student choice education than the isolated spots of Sudbury schools.

The point is that those that I named have shown an exemplary ability to
discover or create something that others couldn't or didn't. And, yes,
some of this is opportunistic. And I think that most of these people
developed not BECAUSE of the public schools, but DESPITE of them. So, if
Sudbury allows students to develop to their full potential.....

On Tue, 23 Oct 2001 12:57:24 -0700, discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org
wrote:

> Great rant, as usual, Joe.
>
> Todd Robinson
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Joe Jackson" <shoeless@jazztbone.com>
> To: <discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org>
> Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2001 7:32 AM
> Subject: RE: DSM:
>
>
> > Hello William, I hope you had a good summer!
> >
> > I would hope we would all agree on the silliness of the underlying
point
> > behind your questioner's "notion", which would seem to be that >
> democratic schools don't produce famous people. My reactions are, >
> respectively, What?, Huh? and Who Cares? >
> > First point: In today's world, there exist no standard of what
"someone
> > who has helped create a broad cultural change in understanding or
the
> > way we see things in art, writing, science, politics, etc." even
means,
> > or who would fit it. The concept is nonsense.
> >
> > Almost 20 years ago, I was lucky enough to attend a then very
> > Sudbury-ish Arts Magnet High School with Roy Hargrove, one of the
> > greatest and well-known jazz musicians of our time. Fifty years
ago he
> > would have probably fallen under most people's definitions of
someone
> > who has "created a broad change" regarding art in America. But in
> > today's world nobody will ever agree on what "art" is; most people
today
> > don't even listen to jazz or know who Roy Hargrove is.
> >
> > There were 250 jazz artists in 1950 who were great enough to shape
> the > world's view of art. Today there are 2500, but the world
> doesn't
really
> > listen to jazz. So is the questioner saying that it's more
> important > for schools to crank out Michael Jacksons (who has had
> *way* more
effect
> > in changing the world's perception of music than anyone else in the

> > world over the last 20 years) than it is for them to crank out >
> Hargroves? >
> > And did anyone catch themselves just now bridling at the idea that
> > Michael Jackson created a "broad cultural change in understanding
or
the
> > way we see things in art"? You see the problem.
> >
> > Fame is opportunity. The relationship of fame to greatness is
> usually
a
> > matter of opinion, and when it is not are occurrences that are so
> > statistically rare as to preclude a relationship with the type or
> form > of schooling. >
> > Just for fun, someone name me five people in the world today who
are
> > changing our culture in the same breadth and degree of
unequivocality
> > that Julius Ceasar, Johann Sebastian Bach and Albert Einstein did
in
> > their respective cultures.
> >
> > Second point: There's a math problem here. Over the past 50 years
> > Sudbury schools have produced maybe 6-8 hundred students. Over the
past
> > fifty years all the other kinds of schools in the world have
> produced > billions of students. So, at this rate, if the all these
> other schools > in the world have (arguably) produced one or two
> thousand of these > people that can change our culture today (if
> there are that many we can > all agree on), then >
> > 2,000/2,000,000,000 = x/800 per fifty years
> > .000001 = x/800 per fifty years
> > x = .0008 per fifty years
> >
> > So Sudbury schools only need to produce one U.N Delegate or
Pulitzer
> > Prize winner every 600 centuries to easily surpass all other
schools in
> > this all-important category? What a cakewalk!
> >
> > Third point: While the criteria of "someone who has helped create a
> > broad cultural change in understanding or the way we see things in
art,
> > writing, science, politics, etc." is nonexistent due to its
> > equivocality, what is the relevance?
> >
> > Does the world need Nobel Prize winners more than it needs
> > veterinarians? Is someone who is a great writer a better and more
> > present parent than a reporter for the local paper? Because it's
the
> > billions of anonymous people who live their lives with joy &
integrity
> > that make real contributions to our culture.
> >
> > Back to the jazz music analogy. In order to follow the track of a
jazz
> > musician who is at all "known", one essentially has to dedicate
their
> > entire lives to becoming known. Is it possible to be a good parent
and
> > be involved with social issues and volunteer for charities when
you're
> > out on the road ten months a year? No, I tried it, it's not
possible.
> >
> > The relationship of fame to how good a person is is nonexistent.
> >
> > And much thanks should go to public schools for the fact that the
impact
> > art has on our culture today is negligible compared to sports. The

> > impact of writing on our culture is far less than that of television
and
> > movies. So your questioner's categories seem a little out of date
> with > regard to the real-life culture of today, unless "culture" to
> them
means
> > a bunch of college professors and art & music critics sitting
> around in > a coffee shop in Geneva sipping cappuccinos while
> discussing Thomas > Pynchon's latest book. >
> > Sorry. To me the point, which amounts to "has Sudbury/Summerhill
> > cranked out anyone famous?", is so juvenile I am incapable of even
> > comprehending whatever legitimacy the questioner intends.
> >
> > I would tell the questioner that while democratic schooling doesn't
> > necessarily help kids to become famous, that every single graduate
of
> > Sudbury goes on to make *untold* contributions to our civilization,
and
> > that getting famous is probably not among the top ten reasons
parents
> > send their children to a Sudbury school.
> >
> > Rant over.
> >
> > -Joe
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: owner-discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org
> > [mailto:owner-discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org] On Behalf Of
william
van
> > horn
> > Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2001 6:41 AM
> > To: discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org
> > Subject: Re: DSM:
> >
> >
> > I was in a discussion on the state of the school system here in the

> US > and someone brought up the notion that no one that has made a >

> significant contribution to our culture has ever come through
democratic
> > schools such as Summerhill or Sudbury. By significant contribution
> he > meant someone who has helped create a broad cultural change in
> > understanding or the way we see things in art, writing, science, >
> politics, etc. >
> > Does anyone know of a SUdbury alumnus who has gone on to help make
such
> > a change?
> >
> > William M. Van Horn
> > http://www.angelfire.com/art/inmystudio
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________________
> > Send a cool gift with your E-Card
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> >
> >
> >
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William M. Van Horn
wmvh1@excite.com
http://www.angelfire.com/art/inmystudio

_______________________________________________________
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