Being, amongst other things, British, I have heard about Summerhill School and wondered if my kids were missing out on an incredible experience by being homeschooled rather than enrolled in a really alternative school like Summerhill. Dubai has nothing that’s remotely comparable, but then nor do many places in the world. I do like the idea of being part of a close knit community of similarly like-minded alternative folks and I like the idea of the kids having so many opportunities open to them at a school like Summerhill. Although, when if it ever came down to it, I don’t think I could part with them to be boarders!
The article is, I’m afraid, below ‘The Guardian’s’ unusual standards and is fairly vacuous but it does give us all some idea about the school. The ‘comments’ section below the article is, as always, very revealing. I like this one from ‘Tony Park’, “I think Wilby has a point when he describes Summerhill’s direct influence on mainstream education as ‘slight’. This is not a valid criticism of Summerhill though; rather it should be seen as criticism of mainstream education”. I agree with that. And the comment section gives a useful website/directory of worldwide democratic schools – http://www.eudec.org/
I also like another comment by Tony Park, this time talking about the founder, Neill, that, “…he’d rather the school produce a happy street sweeper than a neurotic prime minister. The point is that he is interested in the happiness of the person, rather than other measures of ‘success’. I am sure Neill would have been quite pleased if Summerhill produced a happy prime minister (though – my addition)”.
‘nataleks’ talks about how positive her/his child’s experience is at the school, gaining skills and a life perspective I would very much like my kids to get from my homeschooling,
” I suspect he developed such skills as evaluative, analytical and critical thinking that others struggle to develop even at the university.
I suspect he learned about human rights, and about such global concepts as racism, nationalism and sexism, etc.
I suspect he can smell hypocrisy, manipulation and blackmailing from a mile away.
I suspect his emotional intelligence skills are richer than some people’s who are in their 60s.
I suspect Summerhill kids are able to create their own success formulas by living and learning in the school that is successful even from evolutionary perspective, because it has such features as fixity, change and adaptation.
I suspect Summerhill is not perfect, but it’s real and open.“
Tony Gough says, “I read AS Neill’s book about Summerhill when I was at university, and the ideas put forward totally transformed my own teaching philosophy to the point whereby I don’t consider myself a ‘teacher’, but as an ‘enabler’. My students are allowed to choose what’s important to them. and its actual relevance to what they learn.
I’m an EFL teacher, and the only way forward is to give the student the freedom of choice and the responsibility to dictate what’s truly important to them. Give a child the freedom to learn and they will continue to learn their entire life. Educate the child and they cease being educated at the first available opportunity.” I love that term ‘enabler’, I should try that one on for size I think! I’m always uncomfortable calling myself a homeschool ‘teacher’ especially when we’re in our more ‘unschooling’ mode.
I love homeschooling, I love having my kids with me all the time but in a parallel universe, I’d love them to attend somewhere like Summerhill.