Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing

By A. S. Neill | Go to book overview

About Summerhill

Under the Summerhill system, how does a child's will power develop? If he is allowed to do what he pleases, how can he develop self-control?

In Summerhill, a child is not allowed to do as he pleases. His own laws hedge him in on all sides. He is allowed to do as he pleases only in things that affect him--and only him. He can play all day if he wants to, because work and study are matters that concern him alone. But he is not allowed to play a cornet in the schoolroom because his playing would interfere with others.

What, after all, is will power? I can will myself to give up tobacco, but I cannot will myself to fall in love, nor can I will myself to like botany. No man can will himself to be good, or for that matter, to be bad.

You cannot train a person to have a strong will. If you educate children in freedom, they will be more conscious of themselves, for freedom allows more and more of the unconscious to become conscious. That is why most Summerhill children have few doubts about life. They know what they want. And I guess they will get it, too.

Remember that what is called a weak will is usually a sign of lack of interest. The weak person who is easily persuaded to play tennis when he has no desire to play tennis is a person who has no idea of what his interests really are. A slave discipline system encourages such a person to remain weak-willed and futile.

-348-

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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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