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Summerhill School: A New View of Childhood Paperback – September 15, 1995

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Revised edition (September 15, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312141378
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312141370
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,834 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This update of the 1960 classic, Summerhill, presents radical educational theorist A. S. Neill, "looking back in 1971 on fifty years of running his pioneering self-governing free school," in Suffolk, England. Lamb, who was an American student there in the early 1960s, weaves extracts of Neill's writings in a narrative that details the progressive school's struggles. As an octogenarian, Neill (1884-1973) recalls his advocacy of a then new psychological approach that pointed to emotions, not intellect, as the primary forces shaping a child's growth. At Summerhill, now run by Neill's daughter, Zoe Readhead, "kids grow up in their own way and at their own speed" in a self-governing, sympathetic environment. It appears that they are not scanted educationally. Generous in acknowledging his debt to others, including his mentor, psychologist Wilhelm Reich, Neill here freshly details his belief in children's ability to be self-regulating.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A.S. Neill is one of the great pioneers of modern times in the education of the child...Anyone who is in any way concerned with the education of children should make this book required reading." --Ashley Montagu

"I know of no educator in the western world who can compare to A.S. Neill. Summerhill is a tiny ray of light in the world of darkness." --Henry Miller

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Customer Reviews

This is one of the most influential books I've read.
tony sneed
Now my wife is pregnant and I am very happy to say that I bought the same books he read to grow my baby.
Kleber Greco
Personally I believe only the best and brightest will get the message of this book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Mary Leue on May 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
Albert Lamb's affectionate and scholarly edition of A.S. Neill's words about his beloved school, Summerhill, sheds new light on the old dominie's wisdom and dedication to the welfare of children and the integrity of childhood. A long-time friend of Wilhelm Reich, psychoanalytically savvy Neill was an admirer of Homer Lane, whose Children's Republic had been such an advocate for children's rights and for what one might call benevolent peerhood in working with children - or, alternatively, telling children your truth, taking responsibility for the benevolence of that "truth."
Lamb's edition of this classic brings out new information on the scope of Neill's views omitted by the Cold War edition of the 60s - while keeping - and adding to - Neill's treasured remarks about childhood. Lamb is a wonderful source, having been a pupil at Neill's school while Neill still ran it! Get this book! It will teach you about a lot more than just permissive education!
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Mary Leue on August 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
The original publication by Harold Hart in 1960 of A. S. Neill's Summerhill turned out to be a totally unexpected bestseller. I don't know how many editions it went through before the original furore it had created finally died down with the passing of educational fashions away from "freedom" toward curriculum, testing, discipline and lots of homework as a prescription for educational success. I guess the turning point came in the mid-eighties, along with the demise of some of the numerous small educational experiments that had sprung up all over the country which (as Neill warns can easily happen) had misidentified "license" with true freedom - which involves learning responsibility.
With the current epidemic of school violence and the airing of information about the actual frequency of bullying - in the schoolyard and elsewhere - opinions wax hot over whether an authentic response ought to be to introduce more relaxed humanism toward students - or to tighten up with even more discipline and objective testing than now exists! The jury is still out on this one, but the verdict doesn't look good for the humanists! It's high time dear old Neill was allowed to have his say in the discussion once again!
Albert Lamb's new edition of Summerhill allows Neill to speak with even more of his own voice than was included in the original. Neill's views on several issues thought to be too controversial to be included in a book published in an America just beginning to emerge from an era of McCarthyism have been restored to their proper place by Lamb. They sound far less controversial now than they did during the sixties.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By johna hill on December 3, 2001
Format: Paperback
Summerhill is a good book for anyone that deals with children because the author gives several stories of expereince in dealing with kids. The Summerhill method of dealing with kids is based on psychology. The basic teaching philosophy of A.S. Neill is undeniably true: All people will respond to the most basic human emotion - love. If you give children love and acceptance, they will return it, if it is genuine.
This book would be good to use as a model for setting up a student government. How would student government be effective you ask? Neill states that students show amazing loyalty to their own democracy.
This book was easy to read and had plenty of stories to keep me interested. From time to time, the author would ramble on and get completely off the subject, which he admits that he does. However, this book is not for people who are easily offended by open-mindedness. Neill allows the students at his school to have a lot (A LOT) of freedom. Swearing, sexual activity, nudity, and smoking are just some of the extra-curricular activities that Summerhill students are allowed to participate in. I think Neill allows this stuff to take away the glamour behind it, and teaches the kids why its stupid to smoke, etc. instead of just saying its off limits. Every one knows that the off limits activities are the ones you want to do most, because it is off limits.
The whole idea behind Summerhill is release, allowing children to live out their natural interests, and encouraging them to find out who they really are and to be comfortable with that.
I recommend Summerhill because, well, you just have to read it. Some of it is absolutley insane, and some of it is absoultley ingenuis!
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By robert b on February 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
I read the original "Summerhill" in 1980 when I was in high school. I was completely blown away by the concepts, despite the fact that I grew up in Sudbury, MA, where there was a similar school. I was lucky enough to be exposed to this environment of freedom and flourished in it. I would not have traded it for anything.
But I must disagree with the characterization of A.S. Neill as a socialist. He may have had socialist tendencies, but he was more a Paul Goodman-style anarchist. Socialism is the regulation and limiting of actions by certain parties; anarchism is the opposite -- the deregulation of everything. And this is the environment that A.S. Neill fostered at Summerhill, to his credit.
It's really sad that the trend in the United States is towards the very opposite: the complete regulation of children's lives, scheduled down to the minute with safety the being the top priority. This tendency is creating a generation of children who lack spontaneity and creativity.
We need more free schools like Summerhill.
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