E ven in these bewildering times, it can safely be said that Zoe Readhead is the only school principal to have featured naked on a magazine cover. She was aged just two at the time and the magazine was Picture Post — long defunct, but then selling more than a million copies weekly. Her father was AS Neill, founder and principal of Summerhill free school, which fascinated and appalled the press because it didn't make children go to lessons and reportedly let them run around without clothes. Her development as Neill's only child, hailed by him as "the beginnings of a new civilisation", was of consuming public interest. Today, Summerhill, run by Readhead, who took over from her mother Neill's widow in , is almost forgotten. It briefly attracted attention at the turn of the century when David Blunkett, then education secretary, tried to close it — complaining, among other things, that it had no separate toilets for boys, girls or staff — only to beat an ignominious retreat when challenged before a tribunal.
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It is known for introducing his ideas to the American public. Its contents are a repackaged collection from four of Neill's previous works. The foreword was written by psychoanalyst Erich Fromm , who distinguished between authoritarian coercion and Summerhill. The seven chapters of the book cover the origins and implementation of the school, and other topics in childrearing. Summerhill, founded in the s, is run as a children's democracy under Neill's educational philosophy of self-regulation, where kids choose whether to go to lessons and how they want to live freely without imposing on others.
The school makes its rules at a weekly schoolwide meeting where students and teachers each have one vote alike. Neill discarded other pedagogies for one of the innate goodness of the child. Despite selling no advance copies in America, Summerhill brought Neill significant renown in the next decade, wherein he sold three million copies.
The book was used in hundreds of college courses and translated into languages such as German. Reviewers noted Neill's charismatic personality, but doubted the project's general replicability elsewhere and its overstated generalizations. They put Neill in a lineage of experimental thought, but questioned his lasting contribution to psychology.
The book begat an American Summerhillian following, cornered an education criticism market, and made Neill into a folk leader. Neill and published by Hart Publishing Company in Neill did not contest his disagreements, as he was eager to see the book published. The publisher and Neill disagreed over the choice of author for the book's foreword. A revised edition was edited by Albert Lamb and released by St. Summerhill is A. Neill's "aphoristic and anecdotal" account of his "famous" "early progressive school experiment in England" founded in the s, Summerhill School.
It is an "affirmation of the goodness of the child". It is split into seven chapters that introduce the school and discuss parenting, sex, morality and religion, "children's problems", "parents' problems", and "questions and answers".
The school is run as a democracy, with students deciding affairs that range from the curriculum to the behavior code. Lessons are non-compulsory. Caretakers are advised to "trust" in the natural process and let children self-regulate such that they live by their own rules and consequently treat with the highest respect the rights of others to live by their own rules. In an example, a student can skip French class to play music, but cannot disruptively play music during the French class.
Against the popular image of "go as you please schools", Summerhill has many rules. He considered this tension between adult and child living styles to be natural. The person coeducational school with pupils aged five to fifteen  is presented as successful and having reformed "problem children" into "successful human beings".
In Summerhill , Neill blames many of society's problems on the "miseducation in conventional schools". Neill discarded many kinds of dogma "discipline, New York Times education journalist Benjamin Fine . The book debuted in America on November 7,  during the week of John Kennedy 's election.
Multiple reviewers stressed the school's reliance on Neill as a charismatic figure, which begat doubts of the institution's general replicability. Harding New Statesman ,  and Richard E.
Gross The Social Studies added that Neill's "extremes Hartup Contemporary Psychology positioned Neill as closer to a psychotherapist than a teacher, especially as the philosophy undergirding Summerhill "derives from Freud". America needs". Margaret Mead American Sociological Review considered the book more of a historical document for later generations to analyze "than anything that can be taken at its face value".
She added that his contemporaries had moved on to "rebelling against a contentless freedom" that prioritized emotional education over intellectual lessons.
Multiple reviewers noted points of overgeneralization in the book. Price Punch remarked that the school was presented as having little intellectual or aesthetic zeal, and that Neill's statement against teaching algebra to eventual repairmen was "the most shameful sentence ever written by an educational pioneer".
John Vaizey The Spectator spotlighted the book's emphasis on "the innate goodness of children" and how the progressive school movement's emphasis on freedom had spread into the public schools. He wrote in that "Summerhill is clearly one of England's greatest schools" and that the decline of this experimental school tradition was a tragedy. Saturday Review book review, .
Reviewers described the book as both convincing   and not. Scholar Richard Bailey agreed with Carr's characterization.
Richard Bailey wrote that the book "marked the birth of an American cult" with Neill and Summerhill at its center as Americans began to emulate the school and form support institutions. Bailey added that Summerhill 's style was accessible and humorous compared to the era's moralizing literature, and unpretentious and simple compared to Deweyan thought.
The book cornered an education criticism market, and made Neill into a "reluctant" folk leader. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Dewey Decimal. See also: A. See also: Summerhill School. In 25 years of reading and reviewing books on education, I have yet to find one as stimulating, exciting, and challenging as the story of Summerhill.
I commend this book to all educators who are interested in children. Each reader must decide for himself just how much of this is profound truth and how much is sentimental nonsense—philosophers, psychologists, and psychiatrists have long disagreed among themselves and there are no "authoritative" answers.
Avrich, Paul AK Press. London: Bloomsbury. In Deal, Terrence E. Alternative Schools: Ideologies, Realities, Guidelines. Chicago: Nelson-Hall. Neill of Summerhill: The Permanent Rebel. New York: Pantheon Books. The Times Literary Supplement : The New York Times. Deutsch, Danica Journal of Individual Psychology. Saturday Review. January Gross, Richard E. The Social Studies. April 20, New Statesman. Contemporary Psychology. Child Welfare. Retrieved January 18, Mayer, Morris Fritz June Social Service Review.
American Sociological Review. Gifted Child Quarterly. May May 16, The Phi Delta Kappan. The Booklist. April The New Yorker : — April 29, Curriculum Review. Taylor, Astra The Spectator. Democratic free schools. Democratic School of Hadera. Homer Lane A. Neill Summerhill Free school movement Korczak's orphanages. Books portal Education portal England portal Schools portal. Categories : non-fiction books Democratic education Pedagogy Sociology of education Books about the philosophy of education British non-fiction books Parenting books English-language books.
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A. S. Neill
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Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing
It is known for introducing his ideas to the American public. Its contents are a repackaged collection from four of Neill's previous works. The foreword was written by psychoanalyst Erich Fromm , who distinguished between authoritarian coercion and Summerhill. The seven chapters of the book cover the origins and implementation of the school, and other topics in childrearing. Summerhill, founded in the s, is run as a children's democracy under Neill's educational philosophy of self-regulation, where kids choose whether to go to lessons and how they want to live freely without imposing on others. The school makes its rules at a weekly schoolwide meeting where students and teachers each have one vote alike. Neill discarded other pedagogies for one of the innate goodness of the child.
Summerhill school: these days surprisingly strict
Alexander Sutherland Neill 17 October — 23 September was a Scottish educator and author known for his school, Summerhill , and its philosophy of freedom from adult coercion and its community self-governance. Raised in Scotland, Neill taught at several schools before attending the University of Edinburgh in — He took two jobs in journalism before World War I , and taught at Gretna Green Village School in the first year of the war, writing his first book, A Dominie's Log , as a diary of his life there as head teacher. He joined a Dresden school in and founded Summerhill on returning to England in
That somebody of his generation could not only cross the divide between generations, but could also be a leader in a most modern approach to children and childhood, is extraordinary. He created a community in which children could be free from adult authority. The school and his ideas became world-famous through Neill's writings and lectures, his books are still read worldwide. In the late 60s Neill's success at Summerhill was finally recognised and he was awarded honorary degrees from the universities of Newcastle, Exeter and Essex. He was also recognised amongst the top 12 men and women who have influenced British schooling during the last millennium by the Times Educational Supplement