Herbert Blumberg


As if to confirm Summerhill's non-partisan democratic ethos, Neill's book Summerhill (1960 edition) was called to my attention by a friend who at the time had solidly conservative (small "c") values, saying "I think they have something there!" Impressed, I shared the text with various friends - some of whom followed, visited and/or learned from the school's repute. After moving from America to England in the late 1960s, had the joy of visiting and sitting in on a Meeting on an open day. Mini-anecdote: just after we entered the school's premises, I saw Oliver (who I think taught O-levels and wood-working) happening to approach, a small piece of timber in hand. "English?" he inclusively gently asked, presumably (in retrospect) referring to my language or residence. My immediate response: "You or the wood?" He politely didn't bat an eye at what must have seemed my rather bizarre response. Flashing forward to the 1980s: for her primary years our daughter went to a state school in Kilburn, London. But I think even there she benefitted from Summerhill's legacy, some of which has diffused to educational practice in general. Since 2009 we've divided out time between London (where I work, except during the pandemic when I'm 100% online instead of around 80%) and - most of the time - east Suffolk, barely 10 miles from Leiston. Not too long after semi-moving to Suffolk our daughter's then boyfriend and I had the edifying pleasure of visiting Summerhill on an open day. I of course continue to follow the school on social media, delighting that it continues to go from strength to strength.


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