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Childhood trauma and its consequences
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 Post subject: Summerhill
PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2008 5:39 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 02, 2007 6:20 pm
Posts: 106
Location: USA
I personally can't think of anything more deserving of it's own thread in a place like this than A.S. Neill. READ THIS GUY if you haven't. "A New View of Childhood" is the version of Summerhill I read. Copyright 1992, the Editor's Preface say "Extracts from many of his twenty published books and other material are here woven into a narrative to give the impression of being his final word..." Amazon US sent it to me for about fifteen bucks total, got here in 3 days.

What becomes clear is that freedom from fear and coercion is the whole point. It's the solution. It works and really can't now be considered "experimental". I wish I'd kept track of the number of times he repeats that the kids he didn't personally and individually "treat" became as happy as the ones he did, and in the same amount of time. That's huge because it does more than strongly suggest that simply getting people away from whatever is traumatizing them is all it really takes. I'm not saying the "right environment" would make it possible to regrow a severed limb, but it still has just frustrated me that the consensus seems to be that "mental illness" is a lifelong condition that can be treated and perhaps "controlled", but not cured. Isn't "cured" a forbidden word these days?? Even Neill himself might interrupt me and make the point "yeah but these are kids, still young, flexible, not yet fully formed. Adults are a different story." Which would make me demand to see his proof.

A reason for going for "A New View" over older versions is that Neill, over time, rejects an awful lot of what he was taught. Maybe most of it. Maybe even all.

What knocked me flat on my back about Miller was that for the first time I was reading someone who maintained that when it comes to psychology, science has its telescope trained exactly 180 degrees the wrong direction. Or maybe it's better to say psychology needs to forget telescopes and just get a mirror. I think it's significant that someone like Neill came to essentially the same conclusion--that it's not the "patient" near so much as it's the whole rest of the world--from what I can tell they figured this out completely independently.

For me Summerhill was badly needed reinforcement. I have spent a lifetime keeping most of my views on things like politics, religion and education to myself--by "choice", but only if self-preservation can be considered a choice. Neill is I think the only person I have read or encountered in real life with whom I think I could have had a completely casual conversation about these same issues.

What I am spending the most energy trying to absorb is his idea that simply being "on the side" of the child--and I see no reason why this wouldn't also at least sometimes apply to an adult--even one's self--is what matters most. The idea of "sides" does imply there's a war going on--I understand "denial" I think but still there are six billion people here now. It makes me nuts that so few are even talking about it.

I've tried recently both online and in person at a meeting of atheists to connect some dots these people are looking at, but to me it seems just barely. Online I've been unresponded to completely. In person I was tolerated though I'd not thought ahead of time to be prepared for being suspected of being a Scientologist--took a second to clear that up. But the bottom line is that I came away feeling as though I'd had made no or almost no impact, even with these "rational" people, about something that seems like it should be as plain as the noses on their faces.

By the way I fix people's broken chairs for a living. I've done furniture restoration full-time since deciding I'd rather eat dirt than "earn" a degree. One counselor had suggested there might be a good living for me in selling pharmaceuticals, something I now take as a compliment since I hear only the sexiest people get those jobs. Eli Lily makes Prozac right down the road from me now. I've been to these peoples' houses to fix scratches and dents and whatnot. Everything you hear about there being "profits" in pharmaceuticals is understated.

furniture pics:
http://picasaweb.google.com/Murmeldjurnot

Steve


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 Post subject: Re: Summerhill
PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 11:21 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2005 2:06 am
Posts: 486
Location: Sweden
Looks like you've understood what Neill discovered and practiced. It's true that it has left the experimental phase. Summerhill School benefits children and makes them happier. So why isn't there one in every community? Why do governments refuse to subsidize these type of schools? Or is it - as Neill has said - that the politicians one some of the most repressed people around. Politicians love control and Summerhill is all about letting go of control. That must be very scary for them. No surprise that in Britain boarding schools are enormously popular.

Summerhill sold a huge amount of copies, so who or what is actively preventing this type of schooling of taking root?

Amazon is interesting for reviews but when you look for cheap books, I recommend abebooks.com (or abebooks.co.uk for the Europeans), Neill's books are up for 1 buck (plus p&p) and when I buy books online, I do it there. It's basically a collection of second hand book stores that are signed up.

Nice furniture you work with, Steve. Don't you have a degree in furniture restoration? Once I considered shipping a container of antique furniture to the US as its value there is so much more than here.

Dennis

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 Post subject: Re: Summerhill
PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2008 10:59 pm 
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Joined: Sun Dec 02, 2007 6:20 pm
Posts: 106
Location: USA
Dennis,

From memory, European furniture pictured there included the Swiss desk, the German sewing chest/stand, and a French spinning wheel. Really I see things from everywhere. And have heard stories about how little antiques go for in Europe. Even here, European antiques supposedly don't bring as much as American ones. I just fix things, don't buy and sell, so I don't know much about how that works. (Though I think even American antique furniture is undervalued. Even nice stuff often costs much less than new pieces of lower quality, so long as it's not incredibly rare.)

I happened to come across this earlier:
http://education.guardian.co.uk/schools/story/0,,2273419,00.html

I think it's gotten to where kids themselves are forcing people to re-examine how we've been trying to do things--huge schools with incredible amounts of money thrown at them (and nobody can afford the taxes!), long lines outside the nurse's office, everybody waiting for their Ritalin. The local high school here had LESS than a 65% graduation rate, last figures I'm aware of. These people are truly dropping out, giving up, not trying. Which appalled and frightened me at first. On the other hand, given that the system itself is sick, frightening as figures like that might be, kids' refusal to "go along with the program" maybe is better seen as a sign of health. Adults have figure out how important it is to stop letting their own fears cripple and ruin the lives of those coming up next. I guess that's happening, some.

Steve


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