“Summerhill: A private English boarding school founded in 1921 by A.S. Neill to implement his belief in the value of eliminating all compulsion from children’s lives. The school was initially opened under a different name in Germany in 1921; in 1923, the school moved to a house called Summerhill in Lyme Regis in the south of England, where it enrolled five pupils. Enrollment was never more than a few dozen students, but the school gained an international reputation because of its radical belief in children’s freedom and Neill’s widely read publications. His book Summerhill was a bestseller in the United States in the 1960s and became required reading in hundreds of universities. Neill was a spokesman for the most permissive wing of the progressive education movement, proposing that children should be free to decide how to live, what to learn, and whether they wanted to learn. Neill believed that ‘the function of the child is to live his own life—not the life that his anxious parents think he should live, nor a life according to the purpose of the educator who thinks he knows best.’”
Excerpted from: Ravitch, Diane. EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2007.