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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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Summerhill by A. Neill ,. Erich Fromm Foreword. Get A Copy.
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Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jan 24, Elyse Walters rated it really liked it. I saw a friend 'currently' reading this.
It brings back memories of being a Freshman in college.. Tell me.. I'm not the only old fart who has memories of this book? View all 12 comments. Jun 29, Elizabeth rated it really liked it.
This book blew my mind as a teenager. Neill, the founder of the school and the book's author, is a little heavy on Freud but it's a very, very interesting documentation of a social experiment. Shelves: psychology.
The Educational Psychology professor at Grinnell College was so personally lackluster, so unusually straight for the time, that I cannot recall his name. His class, however, despite a bow to orthodoxy by having us go through Ausibel and Robinson's textbook, included some great ancillary reading, the best and most provocative of which was A. Neill's Summerhill. For one who was going out of his way to read radical literature, Summerhill was still impressive, maybe the most challenging and eye-op The Educational Psychology professor at Grinnell College was so personally lackluster, so unusually straight for the time, that I cannot recall his name.
For one who was going out of his way to read radical literature, Summerhill was still impressive, maybe the most challenging and eye-opening of the lot. Imagine, then, a successful educator running a school entirely without coercion.
Imagine raising a child entirely without coercion. What if no child were forced to go to class or to study? What if no child were pressured into adult toilet habits? These were new thoughts to me at the time and the impact of Neill on American education in the sixties was comparable to Rousseau's on the French two centuries earlier. May 11, Stephanie rated it did not like it. Neill's parenting and teaching methods. So I decided to read Summerhill and found very little to recommend it.
The beginning section, in which Neill describes his unique boarding school Summerhill was interesting and informative. But the rest of the book, in which Neill explains his philosophy toward children, felt very dated and way off-base to me. Neill turns out to be a Freudian this book was written around , and he believes that most problems children have stem either from not knowing where babies come from having that knowledge withheld from them by well-meaning adults or from not being allowed to touch themselves and feeling shame about sexual impulses.
And when I say children, I mean children -- even little five-yr-olds suffer from these problems in Neill's view. Apparently, all it takes is a little talk with Neill for the children to have any difficulty, academic or emotional, cleared up. In fact, Neill seems to have practiced psychotherapy on the students at Summerhill. Neill champions the idea of the "self-regulated" child, and believes that a child that is completely left alone will end up healthy and happy.
He seems to place little or no value on intellectual pursuits. Overall I was left with the impression that Neill meant well, and his school may have been a welcome haven for children who were suffering in a traditional school environment, or who needed to get away from troubled parents.
But mostly reading this book made me question my respect for and belief in The Idle Parent, since it's author seems to place so much faith in Neill's philosophy.
I can see how this book and its ideas may have seemed radical and progressive in a good way fifty years ago, but now they just seem dated and a little crazy. View 1 comment. I loved and hated this book about how children who are not coerced to do anything become uninhibited and naturally good and caring given a situation with enough social pressure to be that way. The book was based on Neill's school where he didn't force any child to go to classes but most students went anyway.
I loved how Neill had such a down-to-earth style of giving advice and acknowledged that every child is different and requires sensitivity to their needs. I thought it was amazing how he I loved and hated this book about how children who are not coerced to do anything become uninhibited and naturally good and caring given a situation with enough social pressure to be that way.
I thought it was amazing how he had the guts to give positive reinforcement to rebellious behaviors he paid girls to continue raiding the larder, and they magically stopped. One of his ideas was that a child needs to sense that you love and approve of them before they'll give you any respect.
He was also for complete sexual education and freedom for his students, trusting that they wouldn't fool around because his teenage students loved Summerhill too much to sully its name with an unwed pregnancy and I guess it worked? I disliked like how self-satisfied he was. His comments on how preschool children and babies need constant attention made me wonder if he had ever been the main caregiver for a small child.
Also, his Freudian interpretations of everything started to feel like a conspiracy theory. The book went on for too long, way past the point that I felt I understood his approach. I also feel like maybe his approach worked for neurotypical students, but felt disappointed that he didn't bother addressing why the Summerhill school didn't work for everyone.
This book change the way I see parenting and education from that of a discipline controlling one to giving the freedom that a child crave for. It puts emphasis on 'being on the side of the child', being open and honest. It covers education from different angles; from academic, personality, to the touchy subject of sex and religion. It's interesting to see that most of the students in summerhill school seem to be able to understand clearly that freedom is without consequence and limited to the fr This book change the way I see parenting and education from that of a discipline controlling one to giving the freedom that a child crave for.
It's interesting to see that most of the students in summerhill school seem to be able to understand clearly that freedom is without consequence and limited to the freedom of their peers.
However, things have changed alot since the ss and some of the techniques may not be as effective, and the author admits that. One has to read this book with a pinch of salt. It not meant to be prescriptive, it meant to broaden up ones perspective. The book consists of 2 parts, the first part tells the experience on leading summerhill school, whereas the latter tells how the author becomes how he was and came about with the idea. It puts the idea into context. Well recommended read for all parents.
Apr 26, James rated it it was amazing. This is a great book about a man who started an experimental school where children are treated as equals and freedom is the main objective.
It's so hard to explain, and the book is old and dated, but there are some great ideas about child-rearing which also makes me think about how I treat my own friends and family and the children I get to hang out with. Read it knowing that it was written a long time ago and that some of the language and ideas are outdated. Otherwise, I love this book. A pleasure to read. Neill's insights about raising children come from observing them grow in an environment that listens to their needs.
It's an opportunity to learn that kids are naturally happy and good. If they are loved and raised according to their needs, they will become responsible productive adults by all means.
Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing
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
A. S. Neill
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.