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

From: Jennifer Blair <>
Date: Thu Sep 30 21:45:00 2004

"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

This is the sort of information that is important to consider here. Would it even be possible for a true Sudbury model school to operate in England?

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Scott David Gray<>
  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

  I've written elsewhere (you can find the original messages,
  and the context in which they were written, at by searching

       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

       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

       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<<>>
> To:<<<>>
> 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:<<<>> []On Behalf Of Jennifer Blair
> Sent: woensdag 29 september 2004 22:02
> To:<>
> 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.<<<>> if there was an earlier school, I would love to hear about it.
> Take care,
> Jennifer
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Regina Leeb<<>>
> To:<<<>>
> Sent: Wednesday, September 29, 2004 1:04 PM
> Subject: [Discuss-sudbury-model] interest in England? (/Scotland?)
><<<>> 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!<<<>>
> _______________________________________________ Discuss-sudbury-model mailing list<><>

  --Scott David Gray
  reply to:<><>
   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 - 21:44:07 EDT

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