Thursday, September 09, 2004

Getting radical with kids

I have a tattered, mildewy copy of Summerhill, A Radical Approach to Child Rearing by A.S. Neill that I think I'm going to have to toss. Summerhill is a school in England where children are free -- free to go to classes, free not to go to classes -- and self-governing.

To read more, click on the Xs
The forward is by Erich Fromm. The following are excerpts are from this forward.

"Our economic system must create men who fit its needs; men who cooperate smoothly; men who want to consume more and more....authority...has been transformed from the overt authority of force to the anonymous authority of persuasion and suggestion...[which is also] employed in progressive education. Parents and teachers have confused true nonauthoritarian education with education by means of persuasion and hidden coercion."

"A.S. Neill's system is a radical approach to child represents the ture principle of education without fear...authority does not mask a system of manipulation."

Several summary points for this system are listed, but a couple, in particular, strike me:
"Discipline, dogmatically imposed, and punishment create fear; and fear creates hostility. This hostility may not be conscious and overt, but it nevertheless paralyzes endeavor and authenticity of feeling."

"Guilt feelings primarily have the function of binding the child to authority.
Guilt feelings are an impediment to independence; they start a cycle which oscillates constantly between rebellion, repentance, submission, and new rebellion....All guilt feelings create fear; and fear breeds hostility and hypocrisy."

"[F]ew parents have the courage and independence to care more for their children's happiness than for their "success.""

Hmmm...I got sort of confused with those summary points, was Fromm talking about education or religion? Or is it all the same?

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