I ran across the book, SummerhillA Radical Approach to Child Rearing by A.S. Neil  in 2010 as it was cited in Norm Lee’s site http://www.nopunish.net/pwp-ch2.htm. He writes “Neill taught me how extraordinary the possibilities when we really respect children, and place our trust in them and the democratic process.” I have not read the whole book, yet it speaks my language on many levels and greatly aligned with my research and experience. It feels validating that someone has had success using a loved-based and diplomatic approach. I also just read in Becoming Attached that John Bowlby (father of attachment theory) was a fan of Summerhill and progressive education.

I aspire to create safe-heaven like Summerhill on the island I now live and my sweet home Chicago. I will create a place where all children are accepted and will get their vital needs met. They will get unconditional love and respect they deserve. Where they will be safe to express and process all their thoughts and feelings. Where there is no boss because they are free to be their own boss and given tools and opportunities to regulate themselves. We will create a homestead to nourish ourselves from food to knowledge. Emotional intelligence, mindfulness and inspired, hands-on learning are the experience.

I have faith that we will make this dream come true

We will heal and transcend the suffering, negativity and the fear

The essence of free will and trust will emanate…

Here a few random quotes from the book:

“The thoughtful parent will be shocked to realize the extent of pressure and power that he is unwittingly using against the child. This book should provide new meanings for the words love, approval, and freedom… Children reared by such methods will develop within themselves the qualities of reason, love, integrity, and courage…”

“Obviously, a school that makes active children sit at desks studying mostly useless subjects is a bad school. It is a good school only for those who believe in such a school, for those uncreative citizens who want docile, uncreative children who will fit into a civilization whose standard of success is money.”

“Self regulation implies a belief in goodness of human nature; a belief that there is not, and never was, original sin.”

“Well, we set out to make a school in which we should allow children freedom to be themselves. In order to do this, we had to renounce all discipline, all direction, all suggestion, all moral training, and all religious instruction. We have been called
brave, but it did not require courage. All it required was what we had–a complete belief in the child as a good, not an evil, being. For almost forty years, this belief in the goodness of the child has never wavered; it rather has become a final faith.”

“We are human like everyone etc, and our human frailties often come into conflict with our theories. In the average home, if a child breaks a plate, father or mother makes a fuss–the plate becoming more important than the child. In Summerhill, if a maid or a child drops a pile of plates I say nothing and my wife says nothing. Accidents are accidents. But if a child borrows a book and leaves it out in the rain, my wife gets angry because books mean much to her. In such a case, I am personally indifferent, for books have little value for me. On the other hand, my wife seems vaguely surprised when I make a fuss about a ruined chisel. I value tools but tools mean little to her.”

“I think that the Freudian emphasis on aggression is due to the study of homes and schools as they are. You cannot study canine psychology by observing the retriever on a chain. Nor can you dogmatically theorize about human psychology when humanity is on a very strong chain–one fashioned by generations of life haters.”
“To be a free soul, happy in work, happy in friendship, and happy in live, or to be a miserable bundle of conflicts, hating one’s self and hating humanity – one or the other is the legacy that parents and teachers give to every child.”

You can read the whole book here: https://trisquel.info/files/summerhill-english_1.pdf

I found a review of students who attended Summerhill: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/schools/summerhill-alumni-what-we-learnt-at-the-school-for-scandal-2373066.html

“What it did was put me off conventional schooling, but it sure as hell left me with a childlike thirst for knowledge.”

Zoe Readhead, Neill’s daughter and Summerhill’s principal since 1985, says: “In society as a whole you would be considered ‘more successful’ if you studied maths and sciences than if you took art, woodwork and drama. Who can define success? The only person who knows if they are successful is the person themselves. We produce people who feel in control of their lives and have the courage to follow their interests.”

Hussein Lucas concludes: “The key feature that sums up the distinctive nature of the Summerhill experience is the virtual absence of fear: fear of failure; fear of authority; fear of social ostracism; fear of life and the consequent failure to engage with it with a feeling of optimism and a positive outlook.”

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