Date of Award
Professor Charles Eugene Wesley
Originally, I wanted to decide in what ways, if any, Summerhill principles can be used in our present education system. Then I realized that Summerhill is not intended to be an education-factory as our schools are. It is intended more as a society in which the children can be free to grow up without conditioning. It would do little good to change just the curriculum of our public schools if the basic ideas of the community as a whole did not agree with this type of child-rearing. In this age of science and technology it would be very hard for a parent to forego a bit of knowledge for his child for a lot of happiness for him. The success achieved by the Soviet Union in education is spoken of by Erich Fromm.
"There [the Soviet Union] the old-fashioned methods of authoritarianism are applied in full strength; and the results, as far as knowledge is concerned, seem to indicate that we had better revert to the old disciplines and forget about the freedom of the child."
I should add that he does go on to explain that the public idea of progressive education has not been an idea of freedom, but of "sugar-coating the pill," through use of persuasion. For this reason, he says that progressive education has never been as successful as it should have been.
Coe, Sharon, "Can our Public Schools be "Progressive?"" (1970). Honors Theses. 425.