Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing

By A. S. Neill | Go to book overview

Sex Attitudes

I have never had a pupil who did not bring to Summerhill a diseased attitude toward sexuality and bodily functions. The children of modern parents who were told the truth about where babies come from have much the same hidden attitude toward sex that the children of religious fanatics have. To find a new orientation to sex is the most difficult task of the parent and teacher.

We know so little of the causes of the sex taboo that we can only hazard guesses as to its origin. Why there is a sex taboo is of no immediate concern to me. That there is a sex taboo is of great concern to a man entrusted to cure repressed children.

We adults were corrupted in infancy; we can never be free about sex matters. Consciously, we may be free; we may even be members of a society for the sex education of children. But I fear that unconsciously we remain to a large extent what conditioning in infancy made of us: haters of sex and fearers of sex.

I am quite willing to believe that my unconscious attitude toward sex is the Calvinistic attitude a Scottish village imposed on me in my first years of life. Possibly there is no salvation for adults; but there is every chance of salvation for children, if we do not force on them the awful ideas of sex that were forced on us.

Early in life, the child learns that the sexual sin is the great sin. Parents invariably punish most severely for an offense against sex morality. The very people who rail against Freud because he "sees sex in everything" are the ones who have told sex stories, have listened to sex stories, have laughed at sex stories. Every man who has been in the army knows that the

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Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • To Harold H. Hart vii
  • A Foreword by Erich Fromm ix
  • Contents xvii
  • A Word of Introduction xxiii
  • One - Summerhill School 1
  • The Idea of Summerhill 3
  • A Look at Summerhill 13
  • Summerhill Education Vs. Standard Education 24
  • What Happens to Summerhill Graduates 29
  • Private Lessons at Summerhill 35
  • Self-Government 45
  • Coeducation 56
  • Work 59
  • Play 62
  • Theater 66
  • Dancing and Music 71
  • Sports and Games 73
  • Report of the British Government Inspectors 75
  • Notes on His Majesty's Inspectors' Report 86
  • The Future of Summerhill 89
  • Two - Child Rearing 93
  • The Unfree Child 95
  • The Free Child 104
  • Love and Approval 117
  • Fear 124
  • Inferiority and Fantasy 133
  • Destructiveness 138
  • Lying 146
  • Responsibility 152
  • Obedience and Discipline 155
  • Rewards and Punishment 162
  • Defecation and Toilet Training 172
  • Food 177
  • Health and Sleep 182
  • Cleanliness and Clothing 184
  • Toys 188
  • Noise 190
  • Manners 192
  • Money 198
  • Humor 200
  • Three - Sex 203
  • Sex Attitudes 205
  • Sex Instruction 218
  • Masturbation 223
  • Nudity 229
  • Pornography 231
  • Homosexuality 234
  • Promiscuity, Illegitimacy, and Abortion 236
  • Four - Religion and Morals 239
  • Religion 241
  • Moral Instruction 247
  • Influencing the Child 255
  • Swearing and Cursing 259
  • Censorship 263
  • Five - Children's Problems 267
  • Cruelty and Sadism 269
  • Criminality 272
  • Stealing 276
  • Delinquency 282
  • Curing the Child 289
  • The Road to Happiness 294
  • Six - Parents' Problems 299
  • Love and Hate 301
  • Spoiling the Child 306
  • Power and Authority 309
  • Jealousy 317
  • Divorce 323
  • Parental Anxiety 325
  • Parental Awareness 331
  • Seven - Questions and Answers 341
  • In General 343
  • About Summerhill 348
  • About Child Rearing 355
  • About Sex 369
  • About Religion 373
  • About Psychology 375
  • About Learning 378
  • Index 380
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