Discipline, rigueur et esprit compétitif sont les maîtres mots de la mutation mise en œuvre par le gouvernement travailliste...
mélange confus d'autoritarisme, de corruption, et de séduction,
creed given a clean-up
(article suivi du "droit de réponse" de Zoé Neill)
Amelia Hill, education correspondent - Sunday October 31, 2004 - The Observer
Controversial and provocative, Neill's explanation of Summerhill's pioneering philosophies is still widely regarded as a bible of liberal education, yet now the book is to be republished with most of its author's words excised.
In a decision that has led former pupils to fear for the very survival of the school, the words of one of Britain's most radical educationists are to be bowdlerised in an attempt to make the ethos of Summerhill more palatable to today's parents.
'There is a danger that the school will not survive any softening of Neill's passion and philosophies,' said Nathalie Gensac, a television documentary maker who attended Summerhill from 1976 to 1982. 'Without his beliefs, Summerhill will become like any other ordinary school, and that would be a tragedy.'
In the original text, first published in 1962 but now out of print, Neill explained his reasons for creating the independent school that became as famous for allowing its pupils to skip lessons as for the habit of staff and students to sunbathe nude.
new edition, however, will cut Neill's arguments in half, replacing them
with a short introduction by Zoe Readhead, principal of Summerhill since
1985 and Neill's daughter.
Former students believe, however, that Neill deliberately presented his beliefs in a manner designed to provoke discussion. 'Neill's arguments inspired debate then and could inspire debate now but only if they are looked at in their original form,' said Angela Neustatter, who attended the Suffolk school for four years in the late Fifties and whose grandmother, Lilian, was Neill's first wife and helped him found the school in 1926.
'Many of Neill's ideas might sound rather odd today but then, they did back then too. If his views are no longer palatable, why can't we say this in an introduction?'
Readhead, however, who successfully appealed against a notice of complaint issued in 2000 by David Blunkett, then Education Secretary, after an Ofsted inspection team found that the school was failing to maintain proper standards, has defended her decision.
'I don't want to be offensive to Neill but he wrote the book in a different time,' she said. 'Perhaps his arguments need to be subtler now.'
Vaughan, a former Summerhill student who co-edited the new book, was the
last journalist to interview Neill just months before his death in 1972.
is not a question of censoring or editing,' Vaughan said. 'It is
not that we went through the original book and took out the bits we didn't
like. But Summerhill is a book of the past and it is a credit to Neill
that anything he wrote so long ago is still so relevant that it can be
reprinted next year.'
Le "droit de réponse" de Zoé Neill :
I am attaching a letter sent as a reply to the original article in "the Observer".
I would just say we have no intention of "cleaning up" Neills' book and anybody who has visited Summerhill will know that we are not in the business of trying to make anything more palatable for the public, school inspectors or anybody else.
We are proud of Neills writing, though obviously some things are quite dated (eg- reference to homosexuality, which was ILLEGAL in Neill's day).
Neill's books are available in their original form from libraries and second-hand booksellers. But also remember that the book "Summerhill" was a compilation from his other, older books such as Problem child, Problem Parent, Hearts not Heads in the school, etc.
We are publishing a new look at Summerhill with new added material about the school today, etc.
Mark Vaughan to : The Editor, Letters, The Observer
As well as factual errors in her piece on the new book on Summerhill School and A. S. Neill, Amelia Hill's slant is very misleading and not at all representative of the book
I am co-editing for the "Open University Press" (OUP).
Yet readers got the message from Hill's piece that Summerhill
might be abandoning the principles upon which the oldest children's democracy
in the world was originally built.
Hill says inaccurately that Zoe Readhead, Neill's daughter and
principal of the school, will write 'a short introduction' to the new book.
In fact she is writing 20,000 words on life in the school today and bringing
readers up to date since Neill's death in 1972.
I actually told Hill that the introduction is to be written by
Prof. Tim Brighouse, Commissioner for London Schools, who is a patron of
the school's charitable trust, and who will argue the relevance of this
unique way of teaching children, to the state sector in the 21st century.
The editors and Zoe Readhead agreed with the OUP that this was
the best way to get the Summerhill story across to the educational world
today & by taking the best of the old and bringing readers up to date
with the new, everyday practice in the school.
This book is a new project aimed at telling the world that Summerhill's star is rising; that its population is up by 50% since the landmark victory over the government in 2000 allowing it to retain the fundamental principles by which it works; and that its relevance to the whole educational world is greater than ever.
There is no coercion and no authority at Summerhill, yet pupils choose to learn, as well as play, and to participate in a real democracy, giving them an experience of citizenship that is the envy of schools around the world.
Mark Vaughan, Bristol.