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Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing Paperback – January 1, 1960


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Hart Publishing Company; 1st edition (1960)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000BKJDMK
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #435,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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The kids can sense this.
Robert Brown
This is one of the most important books ever written.
John Rice
I thought this book was wonderful and spiritual.
John P. Haritatos

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By David Chirko on December 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
Scottish born psychologist (M.A., English) Alexander Sutherland Neill (1883-1973) penned a description of a school for independently normal children entitled "Summerhill," which is, as its subtitle states, a radical approach to child rearing. Curiously, Neill himself was originally a failure in school. The unorthodox and open Summerhill school was inaugurated in Germany in 1921, later moving to Austria, and then in 1924, to Leiston, Suffolk, England. Its motley array of pupils come from various lands, ranging in age from five to fifteen years old--therein divided into three age groups, of twenty-five boys and twenty girls.

A simplicity to read, the "Summerhill" book is endorsed in the foreword by legendary sociologist and psychoanalyst Erich Fromm (who is not the author of "Summerhill"). Fromm recapitulates what Neill's systematic principles in this volume are. In a nutshell: nourish the whole child's potential to love life intellectually, as well as emotionally; have him educated commensurate with his capacity, sans dogmatic disciplining; allow him to be free, but without encroaching on anyone; have the teachers maintain a transparency; encourage security in the pupil without resorting to submission and domination tactics, or utilizing guilt in one's methods; and advocate a theology of human freedom, not sinful suppression.

This book is divided into seven intriguing chapters, dealing with, respectively, activities at the school, rearing children, sexuality, theology and morality, problem issues for children, problem matters for parents, and lastly, questions and responses.

Many of the cherished positions of the giants in child and educational psychology are challenged in this book.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 4, 1998
Format: Hardcover
We used this book as a guide for our first child, now 25.
We dug it out for reminders during our second child's early years (now 14).
Our daughter has informed us that we are soon to be grandparents, and we are impressed with the fact that she and her husband are also interested in the code of freedom for children that this book declares necessary.
It's very satisfying to know that one's children have turned out happy, caring and thoughtful.
This book is an insightful guide to achieving that success.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
A friend of mine gave me this book, and, after reading it, I remarked to him that, if it weren't against Neill's "principles of freedom," Summerhill should be mandatory reading for everyone who wants to become a parent, before they can have children! This was one of the best books I've ever read. I instantly recognized many elements in Neill's teachings, and realized my parents had used some of them in my upbringing. I have bought this book for all of my friends who have or plan to have children, and I plan to read my own copy over and over, as I raise my own. If more people knew about and studied Neill's teachings, the recent violence in schools would not exist, and our current society would be a much healthier and happier place.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I am in college and in the process of reading this book for a book review for my parenting class. My mother recommended it to me because it was the book that she based her methods of child rearing after. I am 20 years old and number 7 out of the 8 children in my family. None of us are psychopaths, all of us are quite happy. My parents did give us a lot of freedom when we were being raised and am grateful to them for it. I love life and I love my family dearly. As I prepare for marraige and raising children, I am sure I will look to this book frequently for inspiration.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By "nathalie243" on March 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book was given to me by a well meaning friend, who brought up her kids this way. I loved it and think that the titel should be revised "a sensible approach to child rearing". The book might be a little old but has not lost any of its appeal today. It is a valid, reassuring and very helpful guide to viewing child rearing from a new perspective for many - even today. It took me a while to track down some more copies of this book, but the chase was well worth it. I think I will keep this book for another 20 years and will return to it many times over, whilst raising my daughter...
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 16, 1996
Format: Hardcover
This book and Neill's thoughts will awaken hidden and
possibly repressed thoughts and feelings that you have
about yourself. Neill has a way of making an alternative
(and radical) approach to child rearing seem perfectly
logical and natural. I can't help saying "he's right"
on every subject he addresses. I highly recommend it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John P. Haritatos on July 11, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I thought this book was wonderful and spiritual. It teaches children from their core problems and not from their exhibited outside event. I was inspired. Everyone should read it especially those in the education realms and parents.
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By Robert Brown on October 14, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I don't recall how I learned about the Summerhill School, but it really educated me as to how children learn. This school was founded in England in 1921 by Alexander Neill for "troubled kids". Children are not small adults. They don't think and reason as adults can, or as adults should. Children can't be taught; they can only learn. And they learn what they want and when they want. This book covers all the issues involving children.
Actually, I feel that there are no "problem kids" or "troubled kids"; it's "problem adults" and "troubled adults". Government controlled schooling is imprisonment and indoctrination. The kids can sense this. That is why they rebel. Rather than my trying to endorse this book, I suggest that parents and potential parents read it. In addition, I recommend 2 books by John Holt originally published in 1962: "How Children Learn" and "How Children Fail".
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