Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] interest in England? (/Scotland?)

From: Carol Hughes <hughes0005_at_comcast.net>
Date: Thu Sep 30 11:57:00 2004

I read Summerhill before I had even heard of SVS. My thought when I read it
was what would happen to the school if they didn't have A.S. Neil. It
really struck me as a benevolent dictatorship. Many of his ideas are
inspirational. What is profoundly different with the Sudbury model is that
its premise assumes that the student is fully equipped to govern
him/herself. Over and again I see this idea is hard to grasp in a society
that is crippled by the premise that an expert is needed in order to
accomplish any darn thing at all. T'aint so.
Carol
----- Original Message -----
From: "Scott David Gray" <sgray_at_sudval.org>
To: <discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org>
Sent: Thursday, September 30, 2004 9:49 AM
Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] interest in England? (/Scotland?)

> When I was 14, and a student at SVS, I read Summerhill.
> Funny, I felt almost betrayed by A.S. Neil -- that he was
> not operating a school that was only somewhat free, and was
> not at all democratic by any reasnable modern use of the
> word.
>
> I've written elsewhere (you can find the original messages,
> and the context in which they were written, at by searching
> at http://www.sudval.org/search.html):
>
> 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 himself 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 sovereign (Neill or Henry
> Tudor). Some things are deemed by the _sovereign_ beyond the
> "reach" of the democratic body (hiring/firing staff, setting
> tuition, budgeting, 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 sovereign 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
> sovereign.
>
> 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.
>
> There is no question that Summerhill was a book which
> greatly influenced and inspired the founding staff at
> Sudbury Valley. But the differences are huge.
>
> There are several differences, that I can see. The most
> significant, is that Summerhill is organized around Freudian
> psychology, and the premise that children need parental
> figures taking charge of them.
>
> This has led to several things in Summerhill that one would
> not see at Sudbury Valley, and vice versa.
>
> 1) There is no pretense of equality before the law between
> staff and students at Summerhill. A. S. Neill hired and
> fired staff himself, with no vote, and certainly saw himself
> as above the law (eg running around and breaking windows
> with a student). Neill tried to take the role of counselor,
> and certainly wrote about himself and his wife as parents
> and counselors to the kids.
>
> 2) Summerhill is a boarding school, in part from a tradition
> that children need to be _protected_ from their parents.
> Sudbury Valley doesn't see itself that way. While Summerhill
> is concerned to protect kids from things that can cause
> psychological stress, Sudbury Valley assumes that kids are
> naturally strong enough to be able to deal with what they
> are likely to encounter in their daily lives, and makes no
> before to "protect" them.
>
> 3) Rule of law is considered less important at Summerhill
> than it is at Sudbury Valley, in part because the law in the
> UK prevents the school from being self-governed without a
> headmaster, and in part because of the Freudian background
> of Neill. Summerhill was _owned_ by Neill (is it now owned
> by Zoe?), whereas Sudbury Valley is owned by the Assembly --
> each student parent and staff member being an equal partner
> legally.
>
> My general feeling, when I read the book "Summerhill"
> 20 years ago, was that if a candidate ran for staff at SVS
> with a philosophy at all like Neill's, the candidate would
> be loudly laughed at and rejected by the students. I still
> hold to that opinion.
>
> On Thu, 30 Sep 2004, Jennifer Blair wrote:
>
> > I did not say, nor intend to imply, that Summerhill is a Sudbury school.
There are similarities and it is the democratic model founded in England,
where the original poster is located, so I thought it might be of interest
to her. If one is to start a democratic school, it just makes sense to find
out about the local democratic model that already exists. IMHO
> > Jennifer
> >
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: Vera Wagemans<mailto:vera-wagemans_at_tiscalinet.be>
> > To:
discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org<mailto:discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org>
> > Sent: Thursday, September 30, 2004 5:12 AM
> > Subject: RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] interest in England? (/Scotland?)
> >
> >
> > Hi Jennifer,
> >
> > I would not say that Summerhill is a Sudbury School! Maybe they were
the first but they are not the same in my opinion.
> >
> > greetz,
> > Vera (in Belgium)
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From:
discuss-sudbury-model-admin_at_sudval.org<mailto:discuss-sudbury-model-admin_at_su
dval.org> [mailto:discuss-sudbury-model-admin_at_sudval.org]On Behalf Of
Jennifer Blair
> > Sent: woensdag 29 september 2004 22:02
> > To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
> > Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] interest in England?
(/Scotland?)
> >
> >
> > Hi Corrina,
> >
> > You should check out Summerhill, I believe the school is in Leiston
in Soffolk. The school that really started it all.
http://www.summerhillschool.co.uk/indexgo.html<http://www.summerhillschool.co.uk/indexgo.html>
if there was an earlier school, I would love to hear about it.
> >
> > Take care,
> > Jennifer
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: Regina Leeb<mailto:RichLeeb_at_web.de>
> > To:
discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org<mailto:discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org>
> > Sent: Wednesday, September 29, 2004 1:04 PM
> > Subject: [Discuss-sudbury-model] interest in England? (/Scotland?)
> >
> >
> >
discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org<mailto:discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org>
schrieb am 29.09.04 18:11:38:
> >
> > Hi to all
> >
> > Are any of you based in England and/or wanting to set up a
Sudbury-based
> > model here?
> >
> > I'm teaching in the English state system now and my heart is in
the Sudbury
> > model. I'm interested in either setting up a one-off school or
just going
> > the whole hog and Sudburyifying the English system. Where are all
you
> > English people who have this same yearning and the energy to start
kicking
> > some ass!?? Surely better late than never.... ;0)
> >
> > Love to all,
> > Corrina
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > Hey Corrina,
> >
> >
> >
> > I am not really an 'English person', but based in the UK for the
moment anyway (Scotland, that is). I've spent a year at the Australian
Sudbury! School, but am originally from Germany. At the moment I am studying
conservation biology at the university of Aberdeen. I just wanted you to
have my email adress in case you do get some people to meet sometime and
want to invite me along ;-) No seriously, it might be interesting for any of
us and I just love getting in touch with other Sudbury people!
> >
> > Good luck to you,
> >
> >
> >
> > Greetz,
> >
> >
> >
> > Regina =)
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > Mit WEB.DE FreePhone mit hoechster Qualitaet ab 0 Ct./Min.
> > weltweit telefonieren!
http://freephone.web.de/?mc=021201<http://freephone.web.de/?mc=021201>
> > _______________________________________________
Discuss-sudbury-model mailing list Discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
http://www.sudval.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/discuss-sudbury-model
> >
>
> --
>
> --Scott David Gray
> reply to: sgray_at_sudval.org
> http://www.unseelie.org/
> ============================================================
> To know that you do not know is the best.
> To pretend to know when you do not know is a disease.
>
> -- Lao Tzu
> ============================================================
>
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Received on Thu Sep 30 2004 - 11:56:59 EDT

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