Summerhill school, this was and remains the first democratic free school

7 01 2010
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3 responses

11 01 2010
Don Berg

Summerhill is arguably the most famous free and democratic school in the world, but claiming it was first would have to rest on how you define your terms.

According to the information on the Directoy of Democratic Education (
http://www.democraticeducation.com/alabama-marietta.htm ) Marietta Johnson’s School of Organic Education in Fairhope, Alabama, USA, was started in 1907 which predates Summerhill by over a decade. I am not familiar enough with the Fairhope Organic School to know whether it could be considered a “free” school or not, but it was described in 1915 (by John Dewey in his book Schools of Tomorrow) in terms that certainly suggest that it granted a lot of freedom. I have also heard rumor that the school has gone through variations in how free and democratic it has been over the years.


Enjoy,

Don Berg

Site: http://www.teach-kids-attitude-1st.com
Free E-book: The Attitude Problem in Education

11 01 2010
montana2010

Well you may be correct on this, but I also have never been clear on this schools “curriculum” is there any? I have only read about this school once or twice but it may be a case of Summerhill being the most notable of these early schools. I bet if I did some digging we could find older versions that may have not lasted more that a few years or decades.
thanx

12 01 2010
Don Berg

Whether these schools have a “curriculum” depends on how you define the word. When I say curriculum I mean the systematic organization of educational experiences and so in my way of thinking they definitely have them. They have very clear methods of organizing the activities of the members of their community and the whole purpose of having those communities is the education of young people.

But if you take the more mainstream approach of defining curriculum as a systematic organization of academic activities, as in a course of study, then applying the term is more difficult to defend since they do not limit the activity options of their students to academics or courses of study. Some people refuse to call anything a “curriculum” unless it states goals and standards and puts an adult in control of student behavior.

Here’s a link to a essay I wrote on how to distinguish different kinds of curriculum: The Moral Path of Curriculum


Enjoy,

Don Berg

Site: http://www.teach-kids-attitude-1st.com
Free E-book: The Attitude Problem in Education

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