Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] sudbury/summerhill

From: Scott David Gray <>
Date: Tue Feb 25 08:21:00 2003

     When I was 14, I read Summerhill, and I was stunned
(and frankly disappointed) by how undemocratic Summerhill
seemed to be in Neill's _own_ words. He disbanded the School
Meeting, only _allowed_ them to consider issues that _he_
allowed them to consider, and he ihimself disobeyed the law
of the School Meeting in order to indulge his own form of
pedagogy (the story about taking the kid around the school
and breaking windows with him).

     In my opinion, Summerhill School Meeting is exactly as
democratic at the English Parliament under King Henry VIII.
Many members (the Summerhill staff, and the House of Lords)
are not voted on by any body. The body only gets to vote on
things presented to it by the sovreign (Neill or Henry
Tudor). Some things are deemed by the _sovreign_ beyond the
"reach" of the democratic body (hiring/firing staff, setting
tuition, budgetting, etc.).
     Neill went very far, and he has my respect. Like Henry
VIII, he gave _more_ power to the democratic body than any
of his/her predecessors (earlier Kings and/or headmasters).
In fact, each was the first sovreign to give any _real_
legal identity _to_ the democratic body. But in the modern
era, we have an understanding that democracy can (and
should) have no limitations placed on it by any hereditary

     Beyond that, Summerhill believes in "guiding" students
while Sudbury model schools do _not_. There is a great deal
of (to use the less pleasant term) coercion in Summerhill.
Their literature takes pride in how children are guided into
certain activities, and how many classes the children end up
taking. It is an interesting place, with a concrete
philosophy, but it is not (in my opinion) the Sudbury
philosophy, nor is it a place that I would like to work or
want any children of mine to attend.

On Mon, 24 Feb 2003, Hector Ortega wrote:

> Hello everyone,
> I'm a new member in the discussion list. My name is
> Hector Ortega and I'm a linguistics graduate student
> in San Diego, California. Until recently I had been
> planning on going into the teaching credential program
> to teach Spanish or ESL in a public high school. In
> the past year and a half I've been reading a lot about
> free schols and unschooling. As a consequence, I can
> hardly see myself teaching in any traditional school.
> Is there any fundamental difference between the
> Sudbury Schools and Summerhill?
> Does anybody know if someone is planning on openning a
> Sudbury School in southern California?
> :) Hector

--Scott David Gray
reply to:
As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well used
brings a happy death.
-- Leonardo Da Vinci
Received on Tue Feb 25 2003 - 08:19:05 EST

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