a s neill









founder of Summerhill.

i thought one thing that has not been tried – is freedom…

there’s no hop in hate.

i see no other way to cure humanity than by love.


wikipedia small





Alexander Sutherland Neill (17 October 1883 – 23 September 1973), known as A. S. Neill, was a Scottish educator and author known for his school, Summerhill School, and its philosophies of freedom from adult coercion and community self-governance. Neill was raised in Scotland, where he was a poor student but became a schoolteacher. He taught in several schools across the country before attending the University of Edinburgh from 1908 to 1912. He took two jobs in journalism before World War I, and returned to teaching afterwards. He joined the staff of a school in Dresden in 1921, which became Summerhill upon his return to England in 1924. Summerhill received widespread renown in the 1920s/30s and 1960s/70s due to progressive and counterculture interest. He wrote 20 books in his lifetime, and his best seller was the 1960 Summerhill, a compilation of four previous books about his school. The book was a common ancestor to activists in the 60s free school movement.

Neill’s practice is summarized as providing children with space, time, and empowerment for personal exploration, and with freedom from adult fear and coercion.

The aim of life, to Neill, was “to find happiness, which means to find interest.” Likewise, the purpose of Neill’s education was to be happy and interested in life, and children needed complete freedom to find their interests. Neill considered happiness an innate characteristic that deteriorated when children were denied personal freedom, and that this unhappiness led to repressed and psychologically disordered adults.

As for “interest”, Neill felt it came organically and spontaneously and that it was a prerequisite for learning. Neill considered forced instruction (without pupil interest) to be a destructive waste of time. Earlier in his career, Neill wrote that human interest was the emotional release that otherwise congests a person. He added that education’s role is to facilitate that release, with Summerhill actualizing this concept


via Chris nov 2014, for Albany’s 45 anniversary..


I’m sure if anyone had asked her, that reporter would’ve said there was no way the school’s doors would still be open in the year 2014. But she was as wrong as A.S. Neill was in the very beginning when he told Mary how “daft” she would be to try to implement the Summerhill philosophy with a bunch of inner-city children.

So why is the Albany Free School still hanging around at age 45, with well over half of its students still coming from lower-income families? The answer begins with Mary’s steadfast refusal to take “No” for an answer, and her willingness to make any sacrifice necessary to demonstrate that all children possess their own form of genius as well as the ability to take charge of their own lives.


Free children are not easily influenced; the absence of fear accounts for this phenomenon. Indeed, the absence of fear is the finest thing that can happen to a child.   – A.S. Neill

no fear – a nother way