A.S. Neill is widely considered to be one of the great educators of our time. UNESCO list him as one of the 100 most influential educational thinkers and he was also listed as one of the twelve greatest educators of the last millennium by the “Times Educational Supplement” in December 1999.
His writings, together with other radical thinkers of the period such as Bertrand Russell, confronted the values of the establishment for many years.
The extract from Neill’s book
How much of our education is real doing, real self-expression? Handwork is too often the making of a wooden box under the eye of an expert. Even the Montessori system, well known as a system of directed play, is an artificial way of making the child learn by doing. It has nothing creative about it. In the home the child is always being taught. In almost every home there is at least one ungrown-up grownup who rushes to show Tommy how his new engine works. There is always someone to lift the baby up on a chair when the baby wants to examine something on the wall. Every time we show Tommy how his engine works we are stealing from that child the joy of life – the joy of discovery – the joy of overcoming an obstacle. Worse! We make that child come to believe that he is inferior, and must depend on help.
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