A Truly International Experience

Why is international work so important? Why should we resist the temptation to be bound by our national cultures? In this post I reflect on the lost internationalism of Jimmy and Nellie Dick and propose that, in an age of threatening xenophobia, making international contacts is really the only way to go.

A Democratic School Critic

Working Within the System “Democratic schools are just groups of privileged kids playing at equality,” says Ted. “That’s not really democracy. You can’t learn about good governance by shutting yourself away from the world.” “What do you mean?” I ask. “What’s wrong with giving children choices?” Children Born Into a World of Choices    “Ha,…

Anarchy

Anarchy Rules… um… OK? Democratic schools flirt with anarchism. Anywhere you have a small democratic community that turns its face away from Socialist central planning on the one side and Capitalist manipulation of the market on the other, anarchy is bound to be mentioned. Anarchists look at Summerhill in confusion. “Why didn’t Neill come right out…

Sunday Basics: Free Choice

Giving Choices: the Invisible Teacher It doesn’t matter how nice you are, how exciting you are, or how well-meaning you are, if your basic instinct is to reduce choices you shouldn’t be working in a democratic school. This is a tricky issue. You might be a real believer, for example, convinced that you have the…

Thursday Thoughts: Boarding

“The English have boarding schools because they do not love their children,” says José. “That just won’t work here.” I can’t really argue with him because there is a profound cultural chasm between us. I don’t find the closeness of his Mediterranean family heart-warming; I find it suffocating. Summerhill is a boarding school of another…

Sunday Basics: Equality

Do you know what is good for children? You are wrong! I have heard people say things like, “children love structure” or “routine is good for children” or, on the other side, “children need to be left alone” and “freedom is the best tonic for children.” I don’t believe any of this because I don’t…