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About Child Rearing

 

Do you think that every parent who reads your books or hears you lecture will treat her child differently and better - once she knows? Does the cure for damaged children lie in getting knowledge to the parents?

 

A possessive mother, reading this book, may get a very bad conscience and cry in defense, “I can’t help myself. I don’t want to ruin my child. It’s all very well for you to diagnose, but what is the remedy?”

 

She is right. What is the remedy? Or, indeed, is there a remedy? The question asks so much.

 

What cure is there for a woman whose life is dull and full of fears? What cure is there for a man who thinks that his cheeky son is the cat’s whiskers! Worst of all, what remedy is there when the parents are ignorant of what they are doing and become indignant at even the slightest suggestion that they are doing the wrong thing?

 

No, knowledge in itself won’t help unless a parent is emotionally ready to receive the knowledge and has the inner capacity to act on what new knowledge comes his way.

 

Why do you say so much about the necessity of a child’s being happy? Is anybody happy?

 

Not an easy question to answer because words confuse. Of course none of us is happy all the time; we have toothaches, unfortunate love affairs, boring work.

 

If the word happiness means anything, it means an inner feeing of well being, a sense of balance, a feeling of being contented with life. These can exist only when one feels free.

 

Free children have open, fearless faces; disciplined children look cowed, miserable, and fearful.

 

Happiness might be defined as the state of having minimal repression. The happy family lives in a home where love abides; the unhappy family, in a tense home.

 

I place happiness first because I place growth first. It is better to be free and contented and be ignorant of what a decimal fraction is, than to pass school exams and have your face covered with acne. I have never seen acne on the face of a happy and free adolescent.

 

If a child is given absolute freedom, how soon will he realize that self-discipline is an essential of living or will he ever realize that?

 

There isn’t such a thing as absolute freedom. Anyone who allows a child to get all his own way is following a dangerous path.

 

No one can have social freedom, for the rights of others must be respected. But everyone should have individual freedom.

 

To put it concretely: no one has the right to make a boy learn Latin, because learning is a matter for individual choice; but if in a Latin class, a boy fools all the time, the class should throw him out, because he interferes with the freedom of others.

 

As for self-discipline, it is an indefinite thing. Too often it means a discipline of self that has been instilled by the moral ideas of adults. True self-discipline does not involve repression or acceptance. It considers the rights and happiness of others. It leads the individual to deliberately seek to live at peace with others by conceding something to their point of view.



 

Do you honestly think it is right to allow a boy, naturally lazy, to go his own easy way doing as he chooses, wasting time? How do you set him to work when work is distasteful to him?

 

Laziness doesn’t exist. The lazy boy is either physically ill or he has no interest in the things that adults think he ought to do.

 

I have never seen a child who came to Summerhill before the age of twelve who was lazy. Many a “lazy” lad has been sent to Summerhill from a strict school. Such a boy remains “lazy” for quite a long time; that is, until he recovers from his education. I do not set him to do work that is distasteful to him, because he isn’t ready for it. Like you and me, he will have many things to do later that he will hate doing; but if he is left free to live through his play period now, he will be able, later on, to face any difficulty. To my knowledge, no ex-Summerhillian has ever been accused of laziness.

 

Do you believe in fondling children?

 

Once when my daughter Zoe was young, she started and cried at the banging of a door. My wife picked her up and hugged her warmly and then held her in such a way that she could kick her limbs freely.

 

At any sign of stiffening, the parent should play with the child in such a way that the child can freely move his muscles. I find a sham fight effective with children of four or five, a fight I must always lose. Laughter is a great releaser of emotion and bodily tightness, and a healthy baby laughs and chuckles a lot. Tickling the ribs will often start a bout of happy laughter, and ... oh, here, I should mention a school of child psychology that disapproves of touching a child in case one gives it a father or mother fixation. I am sure that that is nonsense. There is no reason at all why parents should not fondle their children, tickle them, stroke them, pat them.

 

One should ignore those life-shy psychologists who tell you never to have the baby in bed with you, never to tickle it. The unconscious idea behind the prohibition is that any bodily contact might arouse sexual emotions in the baby. There might be a danger but only if the parent were so neurotic as to find self-centered pleasure in physical contact with the baby; but I am writing for more or less normal people not parents who are still infants themselves.

 

What can a progressive parent do about the aggressiveness of other children?

 

If parents send self-regulated Willie to public school where he is bound to meet cruelty and aggression and spitefulness among other children, are his parents to let Willie find out for himself that he can be hurt by hate and violence?

 

When Peter was three, his father told me he would teach him how to box, so that he could fight against the hate coming out in others. Living in a so-called Christian world in which turning the other cheek is a sign not of love and charity but of cowardice, that father was right. If we do not do something positive, our self-regulated children will be heavily handicapped.

 

What is your opinion of corporal punishment?

 

Corporal punishment is evil because it is cruel and hateful. It makes both the giver and the recipient hate. It is an unconscious sexual perversion. In communities where masturbation is suppressed, the punishment is given on the hand--the means of masturbation. In segregated boys’ schools where homosexuality is suppressed, the curing is given on the bottom-the object of desire. The religious hate of the vile flesh makes corporal punishment popular in religious regions.

 

Corporal punishment is always a projected act. The giver hates himself and projects his hate on to the child. The mother who spanks her child hates herself; and in consequence, hates her child.

 

In the case of a teacher with a large class, the use of the sap is not so much a matter of hate as one of convenience. It is the easy way. The best way to abolish it would be to abolish large classes. If a school were a place for play, with freedom to learn or not to learn, whipping would automatically die out. In a school in which the teachers know their jobs corporal punishment is never resorted to.

 

Do you seriously believe that the way to break bad habits is to let children continue their vices?

 

Vices? In whose opinion are they vices?

Bad habits? You mean masturbation, possibly.

By forcibly breaking a habit, you do not cure it. The only cure for any habit is to allow the child to outlive his interest in that habit. Children who are allowed to masturbate indulge much less than children who have been forbidden to masturbate.

 

Beating always prolongs trouser-messing. Tying up the hands makes an infant a perverted masturbator for life. So-called bad habits are not bad habits at all; they are natural tendencies. The designation “bad habits” is the result of parental ignorance and hate.

 

Does correct home rearing counteract the wrong teaching of a school?

 

In the main, yes. The voice of the home is more powerful than the voice of the school. If the home is free from fear and punishment, the child will not come to believe that the school is right.

 

Parents should tell their children what they think of a wrong school. Too often parents have an absurd sense of loyalty to even the most stupid of schoolteachers.

 

What is your attitude toward fairy tales and Santa Claus?

 

Children love fairy tales and that in itself is enough to sanction them.

 

As for Santa Claus, I don’t think we need be troubled by him, for children soon learn the truth about him. But there is an odd connection between him and the stork story. The parents who want their children to believe in Santa Claus are usually those who tell their children lies about birth.

 

Personally, I never tell children about Santa Claus. If I did, I guess our four-year-olds would laugh me to scorn.

 

You say that creation is better than possession, yet when you allow a child to create, the thing he makes becomes a possession and he will overvalue it. What about it?

 

The fact of the matter is that he doesn’t. A child values what he makes for about a day or a week. A child’s natural sense of possession is weak; he will leave his new bicycle out in the rain and he will leave his clothes lying about anywhere. The joy is in the making. The true artist has no interest in his work when it is finished. No work of art ever pleases its creator, because his aim is perfection.

 

What would you do with a child who won’t stick to anything? He is interested in music for a short period, and then he changes to dancing, and so on.

 

I’d do nothing. Such is life. In my time, I have changed from photography to bookbinding, then to woodwork, then brass work. Life is full of fragments of interests. For many years I sketched in ink; when I realized that I was a tenth-rate artist I gave it up.

 

A child is always eclectic in his tastes. He tries all things; that’s how he learns. Our boys spend days making boats; but if an aviator happens to visit us, the same boys will leave half-made boats and begin to make airplanes. We never suggest that a child should finish his work; if his interest has gone, it is wrong to pressure him to finish it.

 

Should one ever be sarcastic to children? Do you think this would help to develop a sense of humor in a child?

 

No. Sarcasm and humor have no connection. Humor is an affair of love, sarcasm of hate. To be sarcastic to a child is to make the child feel inferior and degraded. Only a nasty teacher or parent will ever be sarcastic.

 

My child is always asking me what to do, and what to play. What shall I answer? Is it wrong to give the child play ideas?

 

It is good for a child to have someone to give him exciting things to do but it is not necessary. The things that a child finds to do by himself are best for him. Thus, no Summerhill teacher will ever advise a child what to do. A teacher will only assist a child who asks for technical information about how a thing is done.

 

Do you approve of gifts to a child to show one’s love?

 

No. Love doesn’t need outward tokens. But children should have gifts at the usual times-birthdays, Christmas, and so on. Only, no gratitude should be expected or demanded.

 

My boy plays truant from school. What can I do about it?

 

My guess is that the school is dull, and your boy is active.

 

Speaking broadly, truancy means that the school is not good enough. If possible, try to send your boy to a school in which there is more freedom, more creativity, more love.

 

Should I teach my child to save by giving her a little bank?

 

No. A child cannot see beyond the horizon of today. Later on, if she sincerely desires to buy something costing a lot of money, she will save without being trained to save.

 

Let me emphasize again that a child must be left to grow at its own rate. Many parents made dreadful mistakes in trying to force the pace.

 

Never help a child if he can do something alone. When a child tries to climb up on a chair, doting parents help it up, thereby spoiling the greatest joy in childhood-conquering a difficulty.

 

What shall I do when my boy of nine hammers nails into my furniture?

 

Take the hammer from him and tell him it is your furniture and you won’t have him damaging what doesn’t belong to him.

 

And if he doesn’t stop hammering then, dear woman, then sell your furniture and with the proceeds go to some psychologist who will help you realize how you made your boy a problem child. No happy, free child will want to damage furniture, unless of course the furniture is the only thing in the room that can be used for hammering nails into.

 

The first step to stop such damage is to provide wood and nails preferably in a room other than the living room. If sonny refuses the wood and still wants to put nails into the furniture, then he hates you and is trying to anger you.

 

What do you do with a child who is obstinate and sulks?

 

I don’t know. I hardly ever see one at Summerhill. There is no occasion for obstinacy when a child is free. Defiance in a child is always the fault of adults. If your attitude to a child is one of love, you will do nothing to make him obstinate. An obstinate child has a grievance. My job would be to find out what is at the root of his grievance. I should guess it’s a feeling that he has been treated unjustly.

 

What should I do with my child of six who draws obscene pictures?

 

Encourage him, of course; but at the same time clean your house, for any obscenity in the home must come from you. A child of six has no natural obscenity.

 

You see obscenity in his drawings because you yourself have an obscene attitude to life. I can only imagine that the obscene drawings deal with toilets and sexual organs. That these things naturally without any idea of right and wrong and your child will pass through this temporary childish interest, just as he will pass through other childish interests.

 

Why does my small son tell so many lies?

 

Possibly in imitation of his parents.

 

If two children, brother and sister five and seven years old continually squabble, what method should I adopt to get them to stop? They are very fond of each other.

 

Are they? Is one getting more love from Mother than the other? Are they imitating Father and Mother? Have they been given guilty consciences about their bodies? Are they punished? If the answer is no to all these questions, then the squabbling is the normal desire to exercise power.

 

However, brother and sister should be with other children who have no emotional attachment to them. A child must measure himself against other children. He cannot measure himself against his own brothers and sisters because all sorts of emotional factors enter into the relationship jealousies, favoritism, etc.

 

How can I stop my child from sucking his thumb?

 

Don’t try. If you succeed, you’ll probably drive the child back to a pre-sucking interest. What does it matter? Lots of efficient persons have sucked their thumbs. Thumb-sucking shows that the interest in the mother’s breast has not been lived out. Since you cannot give a child of eight the breast, all you can do is to see that the child is provided with as much opportunity for creative interest as possible. But that does not always cure. I have had creative pupils who licked their thumbs up to the age of puberty. Leave your child alone.

 

Why does my child of two always destroy toys?

 

Most probably because he is a wise child. Toys are usually completely uncreative. The destruction has the aim of finding out what is inside.

 

But then, I do not know the circumstances of this case. If the child is being made into a self-hater by spankings and lectures, he will naturally destroy anything that comes his way.

 

What can be done to cure a child’s untidiness?

 

But why cure it? Most creative people are untidy. It is usually a dull man whose room and desk are models of neatness. I find that children up to nine are in the main tidy; between nine and fifteen, these same children may be untidy. Boys and girls simply do not see untidiness. Later on, they become as tidy as they need be.

 

Our boy of twelve won’t wash before coming to table. What should we do?

 

Why do you attach so much importance to washing? Have you considered that washing may be a symbol to you? Are you sure that your concern about his being clean is not covering your fear that he is morally unclean?

 

Don’t nag the boy. Take my word for it that your dirt complex is a subjective personal interest. If you feel unclean, you will attach an exaggerated importance to cleanliness.

 

If you must have him appear at table clean--I mean if Aunt Mary sits at table with you and there is a prospect of her having her clean nephew a fortune-well, the best way is to forbid him to wash.

 

How can one keep a child of fifteen months away from a stove?

 

Put up a fireguard. But allow the child to learn the truth about stoves by getting his fingers burnt ever so slightly.

 

If I criticize my little daughter about trifles, you may say I hate her, but really, I don’t, you know.

 

But you must hate yourself. Trifles are symbols of big things. If you criticize for trifles, you are an unhappy woman.

 

At what age should a parent allow a child to drink alcohol?

 

I am on unsure ground here because I have a complex about alcohol. I personally like my pint of beer, my glass of whisky; I like wines and liquor. I certainly am no rabid abstainer. Yet I fear alcohol because I saw it do so much damage in my youth. Hence, I am not inclined to give alcohol to children.

 

When my young daughter wanted to taste my Pilsener or my whisky, I allowed her to do so. Over the beer she made a wry face, and said, “Nasty!” Of the whisky she said, “Lovely,” but did not ask for more.

 

In Denmark, I saw self-regulated babies ask for curacao; they were each given a glass, which they drank to the dregs, but they did not ask for more. I recall a farmer who used to come in his gig to pick up his children from school on a wet, cold day. He always brought a flask of whisky and gave each one a dram. My father shook his head sadly. “Mark my words,” he said, “they will all be drunkards later.” When they grew up, all of them were teetotalers.

 

Sooner or later, every child will come up against the question of alcohol, and only the ones who cannot cope with life will be likely to drink too much.

 

When my old pupils come back to Summerhill, they go down to the local bar and have a wet reunion, yet I never heard of one who drank to excess.

 

Quite illogically, I forbid strong drink in my school, although some may think that children ought to be allowed to find out the truth about drinking for themselves.

 

What do you do with a child who won’t eat?

 

I don’t know. We have never had one at Summerhill. If we had, I should at once suspect him of showing a defiant attitude to his parents. We have had one or two children who were sent to Summerhill because they wouldn’t eat; but they never fasted in the school.

 

In a difficult case, I should consider the possibility of the child’s having remained emotionally at the breast stage, and would try feeding with a bottle. I should also suspect that the parents had been fussy and insistent about food, giving the child food that he did not want.

 

About Sex

 

What exactly does pornography mean?

 

This is not an easy question to answer. I should define pornography as an obscene attitude toward sex and other natural functions, a guilty attitude similar to that of repressed schoolboys who leer and snigger in dark corners and write sex words on walls.

 

Most sex stories are pornographic and often the teller rationalizes when he says that it isn’t the smut that makes it a good story, but the wit or humor. Like most men, I have told and lectured to a thousand sex stories; but looking back now, I can think of only one or two that I would consider worth telling again.

 

I find that usually the raconteur of sex stories is one who does not have a satisfactory sex life. It would be too sweeping to say that every sex story is the result of repression, for that would suggest that all humor is so. I roared when I saw Charlie Chaplin in a bathing suit dive into two inches of water, but I have no repressions about diving. Humor exists in any ludicrous situation whether it is sexual or nonsexual.

 

In our present society, none of us is free to draw a firm line between what is pornographic and what is not. Many a so-called “commercial traveler” story appealed to me when I was a student, whereas today I think that ninety-nine per cent of them are simply crudely obscene.

 

By and large, pornography is simply sex plus guilt. The audiences that cackle at comedians who make suggestive cracks are composed of people who have been given a sick attitude toward sex. When adults tell sex stories to children, they are themselves at the leering, smutty stage of development.

 

If all children were free and oriented about sex, adult obscenity would cut no ice; but since millions of children are ignorant and guilty about sex, the pornographic adult merely adds to their ignorance and guilt.

 

Are certain forms of sex behavior improper?

 

Every form of sex behavior is proper if both persons find delight in it. Sex is abnormal and perverted only when it is used in a way that does not afford the highest enjoyment to both participants.

 

Matrimony is associated with decent sex-that is, restrained sex. Even youths of both sexes who accept the sexual life of their parents would be apt to be shocked if they imagined that father and mother enjoyed all sorts of sex play.

 

The authoritarian pillars of society have relegated sex play to the realm of pornography and obscenity, as have their followers who are afraid to indulge in sex play. If they did, they would most probably experience strong feelings of aggression and wallow in a lust-excitement induced primarily from doing what is prohibited.

 

When sex is tender and bathed in love, nothing is improper.

 

Why do children masturbate and how should we stop them?

 

We must distinguish between infantile masturbation and adult masturbation. Infantile masturbation is really not masturbation at all. It begins with curiosity. The infant discovers his hands and nose and toes, and mother crows with delight. But when he discovers his sexual apparatus, mother hastily takes his hand away. The main effect is to make the sexual organs the most interesting parts of the body.

 

The infant’s erotic zone is the mouth, and when small children are not given moral prohibitions about masturbation, they have very little interest in their sexual organs. If a small child is a masturbator, the cure is to approve of the habit, for then the child has no morbid compulsion to indulge.

 

With older children who have reached puberty, approval will lessen the habit. But remember that sex must find some outlet, and because marriage is always late, owing to the fact that the young cannot marry until they can afford to set up a house, the sexually ripe are faced with two alternatives -masturbation or clandestine sexual intercourse. The moralists condemn both, but they offer no substitute. Oh, yes, of course, they advocate chastity, which means the crucifixion of the flesh. But since only a few monastics can apparently crucify the flesh indefinitely, the rest of us cannot get away from affording an outlet.

 

Until marriage is made independent of the financial element, the masturbation problem will continue to be a big one. Our poems and novels rouse sex in the young and lead to masturbation, because proper sex is denied to youth. The fact that every one has masturbated doesn’t help much. The companionate marriage seems about the only way out. But so long as sin is attached to sex, this is not a likely social solution. But to return to the question: Tell the child that there is nothing sinful about masturbation. If you have already told him lies about its alleged consequences-disease, madness, etc., be brave enough to tell him you were a liar. Then and only then will masturbation become of less importance to him.

 

My daughter is twelve likes to read smutty books. What shall I do about it?

 

I should provide her with all the smutty books I could afford to buy. Then she would live out her interest.

 

But why is she so interested in smut? Is she looking for the truth about sex you never told her?

 

Would you reprove a boy of fourteen for telling sex stories?

 

Of course not. I should tell him better ones than he knew. Most adults tell sex stories. As a student, I got some of my best ones from a clergyman. To condemn an interest in sex is sheer hypocrisy and cant.

 

The sex story is the result of sexual repression. It lets off the steam that is bottled up by the doctrine of sin. Under freedom, the sex story would almost die a natural death. Almost - not quite because sex is a fundamental interest.

 

Who should do sex instruction-teachers or parents?

 

Parents, of course.

 

About Religion

 

Why are you opposed to religious training?

 

Well, among other reasons, in my years of dealing with children I have found that the most neurotic children are those who have had a rigid religious upbringing. It is a rigid religious upbringing that gives to sex an exaggerated importance.

 

Religious instruction is damaging to the child’s psyche because religious adherents, for the most part, accept the idea of original sin. Both the Jewish and Christian religions hate the flesh. Conventional Christianity all too often gives the child a feeing of dissatisfaction with self. As a boy in Scotland, I was taught from my earliest years that I was in danger of hell-fire. Once, a boy aged nine, of good English middle-class parentage, came to Summerhill. This was my conversation with him.

 

“Who is God?”

 

“Don’t know; but if you’re good you go to heaven, and if you’re bad you go to hell.”

 

“And what sort of place is hell?”

 

“All dark. The devil is bad.”

 

“I see. And what sort of people go to hell?”

 

“Bad people: them that swear and murder people.”

 

When are we to realize the absurdity of teaching children stuff like that, of equating profanity with murder and making each of them worthy of unremitting punishment?

 

When I asked the boy to describe God to me, he said he had no idea of God’s appearance. But, he assured me, he loved God. When he said that he loved a God whom he could not describe and whom he had never seen, he was merely using a meaningless, conventional tag. The real truth is that he fears God.

 

Do you believe in Christ?

 

Some years ago we had in Summerhill the child of a lay preacher. One Sunday night when we were all dancing, the preacher shook his head. “Neill,” he said, “it’s a wonderful place, this, but why, oh why, are you such pagans?”

 

“Brown,” I answered, “you spend your life standing on soap boxes telling people how to be saved. You talk about salvation. We live salvation.”

 

No, we do not consciously follow Christianity, but from a broad point of view, Summerhill is about the only school in England that treats children in a way that Jesus would have approved of. Calvinist ministers in South Africa beat their children. In Roman Catholic schools priests beat their children. In Summerhill we give children love and approval.

 

How should children get their first ideas about God?

 

Who is God? I don’t know. God to me means the good in each one of us. If you try to teach a child about a being whom you yourself are vague about, you will do more harm than good.

 

Wouldn’t you say that swearing is taking God’s name in vain?

 

Children’s swearing deals with sex and natural functions--not God. It is difficult to argue with a religious person who makes God a sacred personage and accepts the Bible as literal fact. If God were represented as a being of love and not as a being of fear, no one would think of taking His name in vain. The cure for blasphemy is to make our gods loving and human.

 

About Psychology

 

Isn’t it inevitable that every person will grow up to be a neurotic?

 

Self-regulation is the answer to the arresting questions arising out of Freud’s discoveries. Every analyst must feel, even if dimly, that the hours spent in analyzing a patient would never have been necessary if the patient had been self-regulated as a baby. I say dimly, because we cannot be really sure of anything.

 

My daughter, reared in freedom, may have to go to an analyst one day and say: “Doctor, I need treatment. I am suffering from a father complex. I am fed up with being introduced as the daughter of A. S. Neill. People expect far too much of me; they seem to think I should be perfect. The old man is dead now, but I can’t forgive him for parading me in his books. And now, do I lie down on this sofa?” ... One never knows.

 

How does self-hate manifest itself?

 

In a child, self-hate is shown by antisocial behavior, quarreling, spitefulness, bad temper, and destructiveness. All self-hate tends to be projected, that is, transferred to others.

 

The mother of an illegitimate child will condemn sexual looseness in others. The teacher who has tried for years to conquer masturbation will cane children. The old maid who has sublimated sex, that is, repressed it, will show her self-hate in scandal-mongering and bitterness. All hate is self-hate.

 

The persecution of Jews is done by people who hate themselves. You see this also in colored communities. The Cape Colored, like the Eurasian, is much more intolerant to the true native than the white is.

 

When, you are on child’s side, isn’t that your way of getting possession of the child?

 

What if it is? If it helps the child, what does it matter what my motive is?

 

I know a girl of eight who stammers in her mother’s presence. Why?

 

Stammering is very often an attempt to gain time in order to avoid betraying oneself in speech. When I get a difficult question in lecturing, I try to hide my ignorance and confusion by beginning with, “Well ... er... hm...”

 

The child in question appears to be afraid of her mother. I suspect the mother of being a moralist I found that one small boy’s stutter was due to his trying to hide the fact that he had masturbated and felt guilty about it. The cure was to convince him that masturbation is not a sin. But the psychology of stammering is almost unexplored territory.

 

Can a husband analyze his wife, or can a wife analyze her husband?

 

On no account should relatives ever attempt to deal with each other psychologically. I have known cases in which a husband analyzed his wife, or the wife analyzed her husband. These analyses were always unsuccessful sometimes positively harmful.

 

No parent dare treat his own child analytically, whatever the school of treatment.

 

Why do so many adults express gratitude to a strict teacher of their childhood?

 

Conceit, mostly. The man who gets up at a meeting and says, “I was thrashed as a kid and it did me a hell of a lot of good,” is virtually saying, “Look at me. I’m a success in spite of--even because of--my early thrashings.”

 

A slave does not really want freedom. He is incapable of appreciating freedom. Outside discipline makes men slaves inferiors, masochists. They hug their chains.

 

Can an ordinary teacher do psychoanalysis?

 

I’m afraid not. He should first of all be analyzed himself; for if his own unconscious is an unknown territory, he won’t get far in exploring the unknown land of a child’s soul.

 

About Learning

 

You don’t approve of Latin or mathematics; how, then, do you suggest a child’s mind should be developed?

 

I don’t know what “mind” is. If the experts in mathematics and Latin have great minds, I have never been aware of it.

 

Does your disapproval of advance mathematics influence Summerhill children about mathematics?

 

I never speak to children about mathematics. I myself like mathematics so much that I often do geometrical and algebraic problems just for fun.

 

My case against mathematics is that the study is too abstract for children. Nearly every child hates mathematics. Though every boy understands two apples, few boys can understand x apples.

 

Moreover, I make the same point against mathematics that I make against Latin and Greek: What is the use of teaching quadratic equations to boys who are going to repair cars or sell stockings? It is madness.

 

Do you believe in homework?

 

I don’t even believe in school lessons unless they are voluntarily chosen. The homework habit is disgraceful. Children loathe homework, and that is enough to condemn it.

 

Why do some boys learn only when made to feel physical pain?

 

I expect that I could learn to recite the Koran if I knew I’d be flogged if I didn’t. One result, of course, would be that I should forever hate the Koran, and the flogger, and myself.

 

What should a teacher do when a boy plays with his pencil when she is trying to teach a lesson?

 

Pencil equals penis. The boy has been forbidden to play with penis. Cure: get the parents to take off the masturbation prohibition.

 


Date: 2015-12-11; view: 204


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