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Wednesday, March 01, 2000

Sudbury Coup and Critical Me

I don't think I mentioned this amongst all the other turmoil the last couple of weeks, but we had a sort of coup at the Sudbury school. A special assembly meeting was called, and Beth and Don were asked to step down from their staff positions. Beth, the oldest of the bunch, is essentially responsible for the existence of the school, having initiated the idea and done every job that would have otherwise gone undone. Don is another early go-getter who helped to found the school. For one reason or another, the two of them have been in constant sneering conflict since before I got here. (These would be Maui sneers, of course, which are much more subtle than mainland sneers.)

Things have run much more smoothly since they left, in the same way that a ship without a captain sails more smoothly for a time with no one to perturb the course. To Beth's absence, the kids asked "so who is running the school now?" "You are. All of us are," we replied, and the crew stood tall and went about their business with a new level of responsibility in their minds. To my eyes, the animosity amongst the kids seemed reduced greatly, as if for the moment they saw a larger picture than the one in which the most important thing to do is disrupt someone else's progress. (The latter being the modus operandi of traditional schools, teachers and students alike.)

In the meantime, I watch the school sail on, and listen to the staff speak of all working together to man the helm... I intervene with the thought that somebody is going to have to take a central view and make sure that everything that needs to get done gets done; I offer my help to set up the process, but I'm not here enough to take the job myself. We'll see how it goes. The school badly needs one good computer, for starters.

Ally officially blew me off. She chose the interpretation that Michelle and I were caught in some game, told me I should just sit down and talk to Michelle (as if I don't spend hours a day lately doing that, both by email and by phone). I guess it is a case of self-filtering, since either there is something about me which she does not respect (and does not care to discuss with me), or she is much too quick to let go of valuable things (which would be something about her I would not respect).

It's too bad -- I thought she had promise as a valuable friend, and it dismays me to know I could have kept her as such (or more) if I had been less honest.

Most people, both with and without conscious intent, cater what they reveal or express about themselves to that which they perceive will be agreeable to the observer(s). "Honest" people generally only do this without conscious intent, and so there is this irony that only he who is dishonest with himself can afford to be honest with others.

I am left to decide: Do I adopt willful dishonesty enough to bring me up to par with most people's unconscious dishonesty, or do I hold out for people who are honest enough with themselves, and with the fleeting brevity of their own lives, to truly take the world as it is?

I wish just once I could meet myself, to find out once and for all whether the way I have chosen to be is truly what I think it is, or whether I live under some delusion which no one has thus far been able to articulate to me. And it isn't that I am not listening -- I crave an explanation for why I should do things differently, because I know that what I do causes me no end of grief. But case by case, analysis after analysis, I fail to find a truly better approach (one that wouldn't cause me even more grief in the long run) nor has anyone been able to offer me one.

The truth I see--the What that people really wish from me is that I see less and believe more. It is not something they would openly admit, perhaps even to themselves, but I think they would all be happier if I were just a little more like Forrest Gump.

I should wish that too, but it is too late for me. I sat as a small child with a half eaten apple in one hand as I opened Pandora's box, and it's been chaos ever since.

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Simon Funk / simonfunk@gmail.com