Three Headmasters: (3) A. S. Neill and Summerhill

  • W. A. C. Stewart


A. S. NEILL had a different start in life from Reddie and Badley and has remained a different kind of influence in progressive education from his first entry. Both the older men had established their reputations as educational radicals by the end of the century and Neill did not start his lifework, for reasons which will appear, until after the end of the First World War. He was twenty-five years younger than Reddie, and he started Summerhill thirty-five years after Abbotsholme, about three years before Reddie’s retirement. This third edu-cational innovator comes from a different generation and he has remained for more than forty years true to a set of educational ideas not only much more extreme than Reddie’s or Badley ’s, but more radical than those of any other educator in England at any time.1


Educational Idea Village School Beautiful Thing Party Political Affiliation Progressive School 
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  1. 3.
    A. S. Neill, A Dominie in Doubt (London, 1920), pp. 12 –15.Google Scholar
  2. 8.
    A. S. Neill, Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Education (London, 1962), pp. xii –xv. Google Scholar
  3. See also L. R. Perry (ed.), Bertrand Russell, A. S. Neill, Homer Lane, W. H. Kilpatrick (London, 1967), passim.Google Scholar
  4. 16.
    A recent attempt at evaluation is E. Bernstein, ‘Summerhill after 50 years; the first follow-up ’, The New Era, vol. 48, no. 2 (1967). The difficulties of sampling and interpreting results are admitted, but the author concludes that Summerhillians on the whole ‘adapt successfully to society ’ and are well able to understand the need for authority, while being critical of it.Google Scholar

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© W. A. C. Stewart 1972

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  • W. A. C. Stewart

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