Thursday, 18 October 2007

Alternative Education

A bizarre story in the Guardian today tells of a 'secret school' in Germany which had apparently escaped the notice of the local authorities for 30 years. The primary school had been set up by parents who were disgruntled by what they perceived as the "rigid" set-ups promoted by the state system.

This seems like a good excuse to look at alternative education, and some of the information that is available on the internet on this prickly topic. Probably the best known institution of this type in the UK is Summerhill School, which was originally founded in the 1920's. There are a number of books which have been written about Summerhill; if you are searching the Web then you could do worse than read this article about it's founder AS Neill, which neatly summarises his educational philosophies. Also available is the foreword to his 1960 book Summerhill.

Of course Summerhill is not the only alternative to mainstream education, and this article from the TES compares its approach to that adopted in Montessori schools and Steiner schools. Other institutions which once operated in the UK include Bertrand Russell's Beacon Hill School in Sussex and Dartington Hall School - click here for the full text of a fascinating 1960's newspaper feature on the latter.

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