Talk:Summerhill School

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"Punishment" ?[edit]

Meetings are also an opportunity for the community to vote on a course of action for unresolved conflicts, such as a punishment for bullying. I feel a bit uneasy about this line for two reasons: a) Bullying as most people would understand it - persistent persecution of one individual - is pretty rare in Summerhill, and b) The term punishment is seldom used in Summerhill. Summerhill tends to say that someone is fined rather than punished, the latter having an undesirable eye-for-an-eye sort of connotation. But I'm not sure right now how best to rewrite that line, so I'll leave it until I or someone else thinks of something more appropriate. Mishagale (talk) 17:26, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

Got around to changing this. Mishagale (talk) 17:07, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Court fees[edit]

I would like to see in the article the information saying that the school have been refound their court fee following the trial:

Yesterday Ms Redhead's appeal was withdrawn after the two sides agreed that the complaints about non-compulsory attendance at lessons and the lack of assessment should be annulled. The DfEE was ordered to pay Ms Redhead's legal costs, which could have reached £150,000. Source:,,183564,00.html

The Grauniad misreported that a little, the DfEE wasn't ordered to pay costs, they agreed to pay a contribution in the settlement. I don't think they ever did give any money, if they did it was a very small fraction of the actual costs. Mishagale 01:57, 24 August 2007 (UTC)

Influence of Summerhill[edit]

From the article: Summerhill is noted for its influential and groundbreaking philosophy that children learn best with freedom from coercion. This statement borders on NPOV to me, but I'd be happy to leave it in if a credible source for "influential and groundbreaking philosophy" could be secured. Cheers! Khamsin 00:45, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

It was influential enough that Neil's original book on Summerhill was at the top of the best-seller list in the US and elsewhere. It entered into the public consciousness far enough that the protagonist in Rosemary's Baby is reading the book and wondering about whether progressive education would be best for her baby. I don't know enough about educational theory to know what would make a proper citation for the "influential and groundbreaking" statement all at one go, though.--Parcequilfaut 00:02, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
A quote from the 1949 report of Her Majesty's Inspectorate: "What cannot be doubted is that a piece of fascinating and valuable educational research is going on here which it would do all educationists good to see". A huge number of books and papers have been published about Summerhill School and A.S. Neill (try a quick search on Google Scholar or visit your local library), and the schools philosophy is discussed in most sociology and education courses from secondary level upwards. The school has also been the direct inspiration for numerous other alternative schools, including Tamariki in New Zealand, Moo Ban Dek in Thailand, Tokyo Shure and Kinokuni in Japan. In addition to serious academic backing, the school recieved de facto approval from the British Government, when they agreed to a court settlement which forced school inspectors to inspect Summerhill according to different criteria to every other school in the country. Mishagale 11:06, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

Introduction missing[edit]

I noticed that a brief introductory section, which I think is required for all articles here, is missing. (talk) 14:22, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

I've added one, I hope it suffices. Mishagale (talk) 17:04, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Summerhill in popular culture[edit]

Any support for the idea that Summerhill was the inspiration for "Experiment House" in C S Lewis's The Silver Chair?Moletrouser (talk) 16:27, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

I think it's probable that Summerhill was the inspiration (although I think Lewis very much didn't "get" Summerhill), but unless you can find any actual sources that say so, it's just speculation. *The Silver Chair* was written in '53, some time before Summerhill had really entered the popular conciousness, but that doesn't mean a man like Lewis wouldn't have heard of it. The same point could be made about "Frouts" in Terry Pratchett's *Hogfather*, although I think it more resembles a Montessori school. Mishagale (talk) 17:21, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

I mean to say Thief of Time, not Hogfather. Mishagale (talk) 22:40, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

I also think it highly probable. Any one who reads the "Experiment House" passages after having read some of Neil's writings of the same period (such as Summerhill), or those of his critics of the early 1950s, willI think find the resemblance leap out. It is perhaps worth noting that Lewis's concept of school (as thought of by Mark Studdock in That Hideous Strength and as discussed in The Abolition of Man) is of a place filled with cliques, popularity contests, and bullying, except as checked by the authority of the teachers. This fits with his depiction of "Experiment House". But all that is speculation and WP:OR, until and unless someone does the research and publishes such a conclusion in a reliable source. I don't know of any such source. I note that our article List of places in The Chronicles of Narnia states "Experiment House satirizes progressive educational institutions such as Summerhill School." — Preceding unsigned comment added by DESiegel (talkcontribs) 15:49, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

'Citations needed for verification' I think it is now ok?[edit]

I believe all the core information is now referenced and propose that I will removed the 'veritation' tag in a week unless there are any objections. For some sections I have given a general reference for the section (or two, one independent one from Summerhill itself) which I think is fine. For the court case section I have fully referenced each claim. PeterIto (talk) 22:13, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Rafferty Quote[edit]

I've put the Max Rafferty quote back in, because I don't think it's "insignificant."

  • It adds balance to the article, since the other quotes are all positive
  • It highlights the schools controversial nature
  • I'd say the opinion of someone who was basically boss of all the schools in california is actually pretty significant
  • And finally, it kind of makes me smile - I'd have rather gone to a brothel too, that would have been sweet :) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mishagale (talkcontribs) 10:54, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
I suspect that the problem is that, for all his credentials, Rafferty's is entirely bereft of context. He appears to be very much of an educational conservative, so it is hardly surprising that he would react strongly against the theory behind Summerhill, but was this just a passing comment, or a sound-bite from a wider and more academic analysis of the insitution? Nick Cooper (talk) 11:19, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
I think the quote comes from Rafferty's article in Summerhill: For and Against. I'll try and dig up a copy so I can add the appropriate citation. As for him being a conservative, I take your point, but in the interests of adding balance to the quotes section, a conservative seems a good choice, since the other quotes are from liberals like Neill. Mishagale (talk) 11:45, 20 December 2008 (UTC)

Was the school successful in worldly terms? A list of distinguished alumni would be instructive. The Further Reading needs publication dates. Xxanthippe (talk) 06:07, 2 July 2009 (UTC).

External links modified[edit]

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According to the German article on Summerhill (section 8.1) the beginnings and early history were a bit more complicated than what is written here. Someone well knowledgeable about the issue (which I am not) should amend that for accuracy. (talk) 14:22, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

I don't read German, so I'm not sure what the de article says, but I've added some historical details from the Summerhill website. Mishagale (talk) 17:05, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

The sentence Summerhill School was founded in 1921 in Hellerau near Dresden, Germany by Neill does not sit well with the sentence in the A S Neill WP biography starting, Summerhill School was founded in 1921 in Hellerau near Dresden, Germany by Neill as part of Neue Schule ("New School"). However, Neill was dissatisfied with Neue Schule's ethos, and so moved to Sonntagberg in Austria...

Can someone determine what actually happened. The fact that Summerhill School itself places its foundation as being in Hellerau in 1921 does not make it true. It seems fairly clear that Neill did not found the Neue Schule and that it was there before he joined in. The situation of the school at Sonntagsberg is not clear and Neill may or may not have founded it. But it was not called Summerhill. We need independent sources on this. Mike Spathaky (talk) 04:34, 11 January 2016 (UTC)

Since writing the previous post I have found sources and it appears that the claim for foundation at Hellerau in 1921 is justified. I have given details and two new refs in the article. Mike Spathaky (talk) 11:29, 11 January 2016 (UTC)