Book Review: Summerhill School – A New View Of Childhood by A.S. Neil

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TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
March 3, 2017

Having read three books by John Taylor Gatto’s, who has spoken out at length about the inherent issues within public schooling, while also having met some people through discussing these books, someone was kind enough to recommend this particular book.  To say the least, this book is outside of the box as outside of the box can be.

Summerhill School – A New View Of Childhood by A.S. Neil is a book that details the venture of those who took part in the school known as Summerhill, which sought to achieve a new standard of learning and growth.

A.S. Neil was the person mainly responsible for this audacious undertaking, and his actions echo still to this day.

What Neil sought to do was create a place where the idea/value of Freedom is wholly respected, through and through.  For this, this new school required a different way of thinking – a whole new mindset.  This venture required the removal of preconceived notions of childhood schooling, coupled with the open-mindedness that to achieve true education in the school system the child must govern entirely free to govern themselves.  This means that the child would be active in most of what the child chooses for their own development, which may include various aspects learning or playing.

Neil’s individually democratic style education is quite evocative, because when carried out correctly [as myriad examples show in his book] it shows that children can self-govern themselves, and also do so quite well.  This takes place also with little to no interference from the adults, except in some very unique circumstances.  For the most part though, children were left to their own devices, to choose what type of learning they would undertake.

To gauge what Neil strove to achieve, let’s take a gander at his own words:

“The goal was to use childhood and adolescence to create emotional wholeness and personal strength.  Neil thought that once this wholeness had been achieved children would be self-motivated to learn what they needed academically.  The key to this growth was to give children freedom to play for as long as they felt the need in an atmosphere of approval and love.   The children were given freedom but not license; they could do as they pleased as long as it didn’t bother anyone else.”[1]

Therein lies the beauty, for the child who ends up not playing, ends up not using one of the most important parts of life for learning and growth.  Furthermore, the children that have unfinished childhoods so to speak, later in life seek to do things that could have already taken place, and which end up slowing down the progress of growth as an adult.  That’s what Neil seemed to notice anyhow.

Couple to the above the fact that in the notable magazine, Scientific American, entitled “The Serious Need For Play”, it was reported by Melinda Wenner Moyer that one-third of the kids who had gone to play-free schools had been arrested for felonies.[2]

Additionally, there are other topics discussed within the book.  Everything from social structure, emotional problems, particularly with children who are a bit older, meetings, self-government, what are called ‘problem children’, play and self-regulation and much more is discussed at length.

Perhaps, the best way to understand what Summerhill is truly about comes from the following piece:

“You don’t have Summerhill in order that children should study or learn to become “ists” of any kind.  You let them function in their own play-work fashion, and you postulate no purpose for them at all.”[3]

The genius of the idea is that because their core individual foundation in childhood was so enjoyable and emotionally robust children end up learning vastly quicker when they choose to follow their path than students that follow the public school system.  However, is that growth is not allowed when children are forced through compulsory schooling [Read: Dumbing Us Down – The Hidden Curriculum Of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto] which crushes their individuality and imagination.  Those very circumstances turn children in robots, only capable of following orders and never taught to critically think.  Only memorization of facts becomes important, and not arriving at the facts.

For that reason, many of the topics of the book do delve into the idea of playing.  Neil does make it a point about focusing on the benefits of playing quite a bit.  What the author states constitutes play is:

“…not thinking in terms of athletic fields and organized games; I am thinking of play in terms of fantasy.  Organized games involve skill, competition, teamwork; but children’s play usually requires no skill, little competition, and hardly any teamwork.”[4]

In other words, true play, like a whetstone, hones the development of imagination.  And imagination is integral, because a child whose imagination hasn’t developed has had his childhood stultified, as well as their imagination, and will be a conformist child, and thus, a conformist adult at the drop of a hat.  Disturbingly, this is exactly what we see in society more and more with time.

The book is split up into two parts. Firstly, the book covers all facets regarding Summerhill, which are covered at length from a variety of angles, citing dozens and dozens of examples of how children responded to particular scenarios and whatnot. Everything from classes, theater, music, sex, teachers, and much more is discussed here.  The second part of the book covers many aspects of Neils life, as he takes us through the journey of what brought him to taking part in Summerhill.

All this considered, the book is a really great read.  Admittedly, the first half appealed to me a lot more than the second part, but that’s because the interest for me was in the process for the individual and not so much in how the author came to be part of it.  Regardless, the book really is something worth pondering for anybody that thinks the one-size-fits-all public schooling and compulsory conformity system that western education has become is good, really needs to take a look at the conformity crisis that’s taking place.  That, however, is a whole different can of worms.  One that John Taylor Gatto discusses at length in all of his books.

If you have read any of John Taylor Gatto’s book, then you will know how indoctrination and conformity are the aim of public schooling, and there’s many documents showing this.  Because of that, and more, an honest view into a different paradigm such as this one brought about by Neil is needed.  Summerhill has shown that education and personal growth can actually be enjoyable for once.

Summerhill has already broken new ground for a new paradigm.  Now it’s up to individuals to ruminate upon how to learn from it and see where it may take them.

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Suggested resources reviewed below for those seeking ideas to self-teach and become autodidacts:

Socratic Logic V3.1 by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Grammar & Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D.
How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren
Philosophy 101 – An Introduction To Philosophy Via Plato’s Apology by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
The Complete Workbook For Arguments – A Complete Course In Critical Thinking [2nd Ed.] by David R. Morrow & Anthony Weston
The Imaginative Argument – A Practical Manifesto For Writers by Frank L. Cioffi

The following books reviewed below cover the disturbing issues within the public schooling system:

Rotten To The Common Core by Dr. Joseph P. Farrell Ph.D.& Gary Lawrence
Dumbing Us Down – The Hidden Curriculum Of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
A Different Kind Of Teacher – Solving The Crisis Of American Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
Weapons Of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto
Drilling Through The Core, by Sandra Stotsky & Contributors
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Sources:

[1] A.S. Neil, Summerhill School – A New View Of Childhood, p. xviii
[2] Moyer, Melinda Wenner, “The Serious Need For Play.” Scientific American, 2013:  86.  Print.
[3] A.S. Neil, Summerhill School – A New View Of Childhood, p. 217.
[4] Ibid., p. 32.
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This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.

January Book Haul 2017

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TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
February 10, 2017

At to risk of sounding out of touch with reality, just recently saw my first book haul of my life on someone’s wordpress.  YES, REALLY.  It’s all good, you can laugh.  It’s like someone that loves gaming never hearing of a Playstation, no?

It really shows what happens when you ensconce yourself in a hobbit hole for-beyond-ever.  How does a bibliophile end up not knowing about other people’s bibliophiliness? [If THAT could ever be a word!] Well, by being a book-a-holic de jour, of course.

All jest aside, as someone who reads books like they’re going out of style, figured it would be interesting/different to try one of these out and am going to attempt to do these monthly as well.

In any case, what follows are the titles of each of the books, and a short reason as to why these books were picked up.

Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit by Corey Wilson

Making my way through The Hobbit and Lords Of The Rings for a second time, this seemed like a natural adjunct to The Hobbit, and it does not disappoint.  If you love Tolkien’s work, particularly The Hobbit, you will LOVE this.  The breadth and scope that Tolkien employed in The Hobbit was vastly more phenomenal than you could imagine.  But don’t take my word for it, do your own research.

Underground History Of American Education by John Taylor Gatto

Having read Gatto’s landmark books Dumbing Us Down [Review Here], A Different Kind Of Teacher [Review Here], and Weapons Of Mass Instruction [Review coming soon], this seemed like a nice way to round out my research into public schooling, particularly the historical side.  Of course, Gatto not only calls it how it is, but he’s methodical and precise in sourcing his material, showing how those within the establishment – in their own words – have wanted to dumb down education and create an enormous engine of conformity for over a century.  And it’s worked in spades, as can be seen here.  This book should really be a zinger.

Dark Matter, Missing Planets & New Comets by Tom Van Flandern

Having read Dr. Joseph P. Farrell’s Cosmic War – Interplanetary Warfare, Modern Physics And Ancient Texts, getting Tom Van Flandern’s book seemed essential to understanding the exploded planet hypothesis that Dr. Farrell discusses in his book.

LONG story short, the hypothesis is that where the asteroid belt now resides, there used to be a planet and it was destroyed.  Van Flander did research into this, and found strong evidence for this particular theory.  Furthermore, there’s also evidence that this event was deliberate and not natural.  Ironically enough, for those that might think that idea sounds ludicrous, check this out:

British Scientists To Lead Hunt For Fragments Of ‘Dead Planets’ Hidden In Antarctica

How ‘bout them apples asteroids?

Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson

Having not been taught nigh anything of the founding fathers in school, this was a must read.  One of those topics that doesn’t get enough coverage, and it’s because most of the populace are ignorant of it, mainly because public schooling is all but removing any semblance of true history from school.

Ask yourself, why don’t schools – high schools / colleges / universities – have any courses in Freedom?  For a country that loves to parade freedom around, it’s quite troublesome that its one main tenet isn’t ever discussed…

Am also planning on getting Franklin’s short autobiography soon, but all in due time.

Disease-Mongers: How Doctors, Drug Companies, And Insurers Are Making You Feel Sick by Lynn Payer

After reading this particular link, getting this book was a must.  As an individual who’s always sharing information about the growing and rampant issues of Big Pharma in order to educate others, this book seemed indispensable.  Although a bit dated, am hopping the book still holds plenty of information valuable enough to share.

Before I Go – Letters To Our Children About What Really Matters by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.

It took a long time for me to find a philosopher/individual that not only talked about classical philosophy in a manner one can learn from, but also many other unsung topics within that realm, which are still vital nonetheless.  Enter philosopher Peter Kreeft Ph.D.  Why did Kreeft like a natural fit for me, when there are countless people out there?

Kreeft is methodical, logical, precise, not overly complex, isn’t afraid to ask tough questions, uses simplicity quite often, and thinks in an analogical manner.  If there was EVER someone who would have been awesome as a professor, at least from my point of view, this person would be it.  Heck, Kreeft’s range in thought/discourse is so wide that even has a book on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Philosophy, called The Philosophy Of Tolkien: The Worldview Of Lord Of The Rings, which is on the way as we speak.

In any case, having reading Kreeft’s Socratic Logic [review here], and Philosophy 101 by Socrates: An Introduction To Philosophy via Plato’s Apology [review here], which are two indispensable books, mind you, am making it a point of getting all of his books that appeal to me, and the book above fit within those parameters.

Reading has become a mainstay in my life, and am finding that am learning magnitudes more than ever thought possible when compared to public schooling, which was a complete waste of time and didn’t yield anything of substance that couldn’t have been taught by people in homeschooling or by private tutoring.  That’s why am making it a point to continue being an autodidact, while also researching topics that will be of interest to myself, but might also help others in the process.

Have any of you done any bookhauls?  If you’ve done any, please share them below as it would be great to see what books individuals have gotten – or are considering for that matter – these last few months.

A Declaration of Independence For Education

BreakAway3

Source: NoMoreFakeNews.com
Jon Rappoport
December 26, 2016

A hundred fifty years ago, at least some Americans recognized that all serious discourse depended on the use of the faculty called Reason.

Formal debate, science, and law all flowed from that source.

A common bond existed in some schools of the day. The student was expected to learn how Reason operates, and for that he was taught the only subject which could lay out, as on a long table, the visible principles: Logic.

This was accepted.

But now, this bond is gone.

The independence engendered by the disciplined study of logic is no longer a desired quality in students.

The classroom, at best, has taken on the appearance of a fact-memorization factory; and we should express grave doubts about the relevance and truth of many of those facts.

A society filled with people who float in the drift of non-logic is a society that declines.

Ideologies that deny individual freedom and independence are welcomed with open arms, because they mirror a muddled people’s desire to confirm that failure is the inevitable fate of all of us.

When education becomes so degraded that young students are no longer taught to reason clearly, private citizens have the obligation rebuild that system so the great contribution to Western civilization—logic—is reinstated in its rightful place.

Logic, the key by which true political discourse, science, and law were, in fact, originally developed, must be unearthed.

Logic and reasoning, the capacity to think, the ability to analyze ideas—an ability which has been forgotten, which has been a surpassing virtue in every shadow of a free civilization—must be restored.

Once a vital thing has been misplaced, buried, and covered over by mindless substitutions, people cannot immediately recognize the original thing has any importance, meaning, or existence.

To declare its importance makes no sense to “the crowd.” They look bewildered and shake their heads. They search their memories and find nothing.

They prefer to adhere to rumor, gossip, accusation, wild speculation, and fear mongering as the primary means of public discourse and assessment of truth.

These habits light their paths. These reflexes give them some degree of pleasure. These idols become their little gods.

To win out over such attachments and superstitions is a job for the long term.

But if our labors yield rewards, we can once again bring import to education, and to the idea of authentic freedom that once cut a wide swathe through darkness.

A string of direct and distracting abuses has saddled our schools. Among them:

Teachers believe they need to entertain children, in order to capture their attention;

School systems have substituted the need for public funds in the place of actually supplying a sound education;

Under the banner of political correctness, school texts have been sanitized to the point of sterility, in order to avoid the possibility of offending, to the slightest degree, any group;

Students rarely confront information in the form in which it is delivered to people all over the world—they confront substitutes;

Students have, in this respect, been coddled;

Subjects such as sex education, which belong in the family, have been delivered into the hands of schools and teachers;

Indeed, in certain respects, schools are asked to substitute and stand in for parents;

Masked as “learning opportunities,” various political agendas have been inserted in school curricula;

The basis on which every historic document establishing some degree of freedom was debated and drafted—logical thought—has been eliminated from the curriculum as a serious discipline;

Students are permitted and even encouraged to drift and grasp at superficially attractive ideas and fads of the moment;

In this respect, freedom has been reinterpreted to mean “mental incapacity and wandering thought”;

The vast contributions of the ancient Greek civilization, where logic as a crucial subject was born, have been obliterated, minimized or summarized in sterile fashion;

Logic, the connective tissue which binds together the progression of ideas in rational argument, has been kept away from students;

The result is the production of shallow minds that cannot see the architecture of reasoning;

Students, at sea, begin to invent wholly insufficient standards for accepting or rejecting various points of view and supposed authorities;

Students lose their true independence without ever having gained it;

The low level of overall literacy in our schools is matched only by the non-comprehension of rational thought;

In the presence of these and other deficiencies and abuses, students are pushed through, from grade to grade, graduation to graduation, as a bureaucratic function, regardless of their ability.

Therefore, citizens of good intent must offload this system. They must assume responsibility for teaching children the missing key to education.

Logic; the capacity to reason, to think lucidly; to separate sense from chatter; to discover deception and avoid being influenced by it; to remain free and independent from the shifting opinions of “the herd”; to maintain personal liberty in the face of every spurious enticement to abandon it; to come to grips with competitive sets of First Principles which will lead to freedom or slavery; these are the stakes in our time.

This is the crossroad.

Choose the path that can bring us the fulfillment of a worthy goal.

Choose reason over vacuous mindlessness.

We, who still know the power of the mind, and who understand how that power can be harnessed to shape independence and liberty, can bring, out of the dust of recent history, an education that truly trains the intellect.

Logic is the foundation of such an education.

If schools, which have become madhouses and factories and toxic medical dispensaries, will not teach it, we can teach it.

Read More At: JonRappoport.wordpress.com
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Jon Rappoport

The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails at NoMoreFakeNews.com or OutsideTheRealityMachine.