|Glen Fletcher writes:|
[ . . . ]
>I went to the Sudbury site that David or Kelly
>mentioned. It was interesting, but, like you would
>expect from a glossy brochure, it doesn't say
>anything about the typical students, or, more
>importantly, the failures.
A very interesting site, indeed, but as Glen points out, shallow and boosterish.
David Elmore had written (in post 75):
"There seems to be a misconception by Phil,
Hong and several others about the
motivational ability and incisiveness of
young children who are left to their devices.
If any of you are interested in 37 years of
evidence about how children function and
thrive when they are in charge of their own
learning, you might want to look at many of
the Sudbury sites, and this nice commentary
by an expert in the field:
David's link was to an online version of Chapter 9, 'Ages Four and Up,' from the book "Child Rearing" by Daniel Greenberg.
I found the chapter a long argument from authority -- without a single citation or reference to research to support the broad assertions made. Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the chapter:
"By age four or thereabouts, human beings have
a fully developed communication system which,
for all intents and purposes, makes them
mature persons. They are capable of
expressing themselves, of understanding
what's said to them, and of structuring
continuous thought; and they are capable of
doing things with their environment. You
could ask whether a person age four and up
belongs at all in a book on child rearing,
because I don't consider someone over that
age to be a child. To a certain extent the
subject doesn't belong here, and yet society
considers people to be children until a much
older age than four, and so we have to
discuss this largely because society forces
it on us.
I want to explain what I mean by a person
over four being mature. The key element of
maturity is judgment. At around four, people
have at their disposal a fully developed
sense of how to go about solving problems and
how to go about making decisions; they have a
sense of what they know and what they don't
know, what kind of information they need to
solve problems, and when they are out of
their depth. This is very hard for people in
our culture to believe about children. For
some reason, most people think that judgment
is developed much later. They aren't able to
pinpoint exactly when --some say 13, others
16, others 18, or 21. I do not see any
significant change that takes place after age
four or so. When I look at a four or five or
six year old making decisions, I see all the
components of the judgment process that I see
in a person aged forty. The process is the
same, a completely mature one, weighing the
questions and the available information and
the previous life experience."
[ . . . ]
Elsewhere on the site it is stressed that there is no testing, no exams, no grading. It makes me wonder how on earth they *know* that their methods work . . . and what objective measures they use to estimate the value of their approach . . .
Glen also comments:
>If Kelly and David do unschool their daughter when
>the time comes that it is actually of some
>significance, I hope that it is successful. But I'm
I am optimistic. I wish Livy every success, and I suspect she will grow up into a very interesting -- and reasonably 'larn'd' person.
Whatever the Elmores call it (unschooling, deschooling, nonschooling), she will be homeschooled, and will have the advantage of a home and community rich in resources and people ready to assist her educative journey.
She will be in the care of interested, intelligent and engaged parents committed to her happiness, and she will live in one of the most privileged societies on earth.
Simply having literate, engaged parents will likely provide Livy with a ticket to advanced literacy herself. Parents, in my opinion, spend their time teaching, teaching, teaching, whether or not they believe they are doing so. Livy will absorb from the Elmores much much more than what is formally given to her as instruction . . .
It is also my opinion that it really doesn't matter if the Elmores' attitude to education and their abhorrence to schools and 'teaching' is wrongheaded or dogmatic, or worse.
If, by age 12, Livy cannot read well, cannot write well, cannot understand mathematics -- when the State of Tennessee tests her, she will discover this fact herself, and her parents will happily acquiesce to her request to join her agemates in a classroom. If by rare chance, they disagree, she can simply walk down to Sleepy Hollow Junior High and register herself.
In any case, I think the chances of Livy becoming an illiterate, pig-ignorant Sleepy Hollow bumpkin -- pregnant at 12 and strung out on crystal meth -- are nil.
And if this happens, so what? As long as she is happy and pursuing her values, it hardly matters what I or other SOLO posters think.
(one thing that puzzles me is that while Kelly states that children are not 'little adults,' the Sudbury Valley School booster recommended by David insists that this is exactly what they are, fully functioning adults at the age of four. See this excerpt from the same chapter championed by David, cited above:
"I want to say a few final words about the
role of a person age four and up in the
family. I've assumed that a child up to age
four is the object of care and attention, as
is due to a developing member of the family.
It seems to me fairly obvious that once
children have reached the age of four or five
they become adults to all intents and
purposes and can take a full role in the
family, a full share of the family
-- many thanks to the passionate (and snarky) postings of all. A most illuminating thread.