I just discovered a school of my dreams. Summerhill - a boarding school where kids have freedom to choose what and when to learn. They can attend lessons, but they don't have to. The school is democratic - rules are made by kids and teachers together, everything is voted for. Each vote has an equal weight.
Yes, that school is real! It's in England.
A movie was made about it.
I watched it and screamed, I want too!! This is just what I wanted! I almost cried I can't be there right now.
I was already charmed by the idea of unschooling before, and if i missed something there, it was the collective. This school system fixes it. A group of kids spending time together in work and play and ENJOYING themselves at it! This sounds like heaven to me.
This school exists for 80 years, it is no new experiment. It was founded by A. S. Neill, who promoted the idea a child should be happy first of all and believed that children shouldn't be made to learn. They learn on their own in much better quality if they are really interested. He was convinced that conventional schools and anxious parents cause great emotional damage to young people.
"I would rather Summerhill produced a happy street cleaner than a neurotic Prime Minister."
- A. S. Neill
Summerhill produces people of various jobs - actors, dancers, doctors, farmers, teachers, managers... simply like any other school. The difference is the absense of fear and the people keep their thirst for knowledge from childhood.
Of course criticism of the sytsem exists - mainly about no fixed classes, no following of the curriculum, children "left to slacking", lack of authoritative discipline. The movie shows a (real) case where the school went to court - and it won. After all, the results speak for themselves - happy children, successful adults. And they form the society and our future.
I'm very supportive of the idea and I wish it spreads all over the world. Schooling badly needs reforming. A.S.Neill showed us it works. In Czech Republic some alternative schools exist, but there isn't really any follow-up for them. Children finish e.g. a Montessori school and then join a classic one for the rest of the compulsory years - and it is a shock for them. Also, secondary schools have entrance exams which makes it harder for these kids too. There is too much pressure on knowing a little bit of everything. It's not bad per se but it keeps children so busy they don't have time and energy for their real interests. The society needs rather specialists than people who can do a bit of everything and nothing properly... and mainly, with love.
How many people today will tell you they love their job?
How many kids will say they love their school?
We have only one life. Let's live it happily and let our children live it happily too. Learning is a great thing, if it is not forced.
Of course, because people are varied, this system may not fit everyone. Someone prefers prescribed schedules and ordered tasks. I suggest both systems could coexist, but since the vast majority of kids nowadays dislike or even hate school and are bored in it, it is clear something should be changed.
Even if we don't make such schools right away, we still could take these principles and put them in our lives. At least little bits. Wherever we are. In families, at schools, in jobs - as parents, teachers, assistants, pupils, leaders, employees.
Watch the movie... be charmed... spread the word.... change world. Be happy and be yourself. Do what you love. Start today.