Started by A.S. Neill in the 1920's. Summerhill is a weird and wonderful democratic boarding school/community. Children get to vote on nearly all the rules and have the option to go or not to go to lessons. The kids leave us as confident and well-balanced people.
OFSTED love us!

My first encounter with Summerhill came while I was exploring Buxton School's eccentric and limited library. It was an old, charming, dog-eared book with a red cloth cover and faded gold lettering: "Summerhill: A Radical Approach in Child Rearing". I glanced at its binding, laughed with scorn, and moved on.

More recently, I was asking the director at Buxton for evidence that the progressive education movement that Buxton is claimed to come from existed. He directed me to the book Summerhill that the progressive educator A.S. Neill wrote about his school from the more radical part of the movement. He reminded me to take it with a grain of salt, though — the school was founded in that different world that was England in 1921 as a school mostly for "problem" children, and though he claimed to be showing that a school could run without authority figures, Mr. Neill, an imposing man at about 6'2", had implicit authority. Salt taken.

Within days of starting to read it, though, I found myself convinced by its philosophy. I reminded myself that the stream of improbabilities the book and school presented could be self-delusions, coincidences, or otherwise explainable without changing my current worldview, but something in my brain wanted to agree. So I do.

The Book

The book I carried with me for the next three weeks was an American publication around 1965 of a collection of Neill's works, edited for coherence and for the change in audience. It was an average length book divided into seven sections: SUMMERHILL SCHOOL, CHILD REARING, SEX, RELIGION AND MORALS, CHILDREN'S PROBLEMS, PARENTS' PROBLEMS, and QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS. It fit in the pockets in my jacket for warming hands, and with a stenographer's pad in my inside pocket to record important quotes, this was an ideal situation.


Says Two Sheds : The book you carried was published in 1960 by Hart Publishing Company and was edited by Harold H. Hart. Neill was apparently dissatisfied with the result, and the British-published books from which it was compiled seem a bit meatier.

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