Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing

By A. S. Neill | Go to book overview

Nudity

Many couples, especially among the working class, never see each other's bodies until one of them dresses the other's corpse. A peasant woman I knew was a witness in a court case of exhibitionism. She was genuinely shocked. "Come, come, Jean," I chided her. "Why, you've had seven children." "Mr. Neill," she said solemnly, "I never saw John's . . . I never saw my man naked all my married life."

Nakedness should never be discouraged. The baby should see its parents naked from the beginning. However, the child should be told when he is ready to understand that some people don't like to see children naked and that, in the presence of such people, he should wear clothes.

There was the woman who complained because our daughter bathed in the sea au naturel. At the time, Zoë was one year old. This matter of bathing tersely sums up the whole anti-life attitude of society. We all know the irritation arising from trying to undress on the beach without exposing our so-called private parts. Parents of self-regulated, free children know the difficulty of explaining to a child of three or four why he must wear a bathing suit in a public place.

The very fact that the law does not permit exposure of the sex organs is bound to give children a warped attitude toward the human body. I have gone nude myself, or encouraged one of the women on the staff to do so, in order to satisfy the curiosity of a small child who had a sense of sin about nakedness. On the other hand, any attempt to force nudism on children is wrong. They live in a clothed civilization, and nudism remains something that the law does not permit.

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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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