Friday, May 09, 2008

Book Reviews and Excerpts II

Summerhill School: A New View of Childhood by A.S. Neill

Neill's philosophy is fascinating! Summerhill School was established in 1921 and yet his ideas are as radical today as it was then: a student governed school, non-compulsory lessons, freedom to play, abolish fear of teachers, abolish fear of life, happiness of children...

'The goal was to use childhood and adolescence to create emotional wholeness and personal strength... once... achieved children would be self-motivated to learn what they needed academically. The key to this growth was to give children freedom to play for as long as they felt the need in an atmosphere of approval and love.'

'A school should make a child's life a game... I believe that to impose anything by authority is wrong. The child should not do anything until he comes to the opinion - his own opinion - that it should be done.'

'Freedom means doing what you like, so long as you don't interfere with the freedom of others. The result is self-discipline.'

'The business of being sincere in life and to life is a vital one. It is really the most vital one in the world. If you have sincerity, all other things will be added to you... Yet we educated our children in such a way that they dare not be sincere...'

'We set out to let children alone so that we might discover what they [are] like. It is the only possible way of dealing with children. The pioneer school of the future must pursue this way if it is to contribute to child knowledge and, more important, to child happiness. Possibly the greatest discovery we have made in Summerhill is that a child is born a sincere creature.'

'Religion says: 'Be good and you will be happy', but the adage is truer the other way round: 'Be happy and you will be good.'... Happiness is the right of all children... The necessity for a child's happiness should be the first tenet of all educational systems.'

Some interesting links:
National Coalition of Alternative Community Schools

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