SUMMERHILL Centenary 2021

Henry Readhead has announced that the new Summerhill Centenary Interactive website has been officially launched

A Message from Henry

In 2021, Summerhill School, the oldest children’s democracy in the world, will be celebrating a hundred years of A.S.Neill’s education and child-rearing philosophies in practice.

A.S.Neill’s work and writings have inspired millions of people around the world to look at education, learning and childhood in a very different light. He has shown that when children are given freedom to grow emotionally, the intellect looks after itself and that coercive and rote learning approaches only stifle and harm academic, creative and personal growth.

Summerhill values have been implemented for a hundred years into schools, classrooms and homes around the world and through the current global crisis, a crisis of humanitarian values and in turn education, they are more needed now than ever before. We need to focus more on social and emotional wellbeing, equality and individuality, creativity and collaboration. We need responsibility towards community and global intimacy. We need to realise the importance of childhood and its role in securing a more humane future for us all.

As A.S.Neill (1959) wrote, “the future of Summerhill itself may be of little import. But the Summerhill idea is of the greatest importance to humanity. New generations must be given the chance to grow in freedom. The bestowal of freedom is the bestowal of love. And only love can save the world.”

This Idea we want to preserve and share through inviting everybody from all over the world to celebrate our centenary as well as their own contributions towards a more compassionate world. For this purpose, we created our centenary website, an inclusive, warm and interactive website, through which you can engage with the following 3 main areas:

Personalisation Join the global map of friends of A.S.Neills Summerhill School and share your personal inspirations, experiences and work. We are also inviting everybody to join in the celebrations by taking on a ‘Project’, personally or as a team, school, classroom, family etc. We at Summerhill have already started an array of projects; including podcasts, stories, walks, photography, gardening, climbing and much more.

New Insights into Summerhill School We have also opened our doors offering never seen before content about community life at Summerhill including; the learning environments, games, events, committees, a historical timeline and a look into ‘A year in the life of Summerhill’.  We are also going to be running a weekly blog about lovely things happening within the school community from now until the end of 2021.

The new A.S.Neill Archive and Research Centre Within the last hundred years there has been a large national and international demand to visit and experience Summerhill from teachers, schools, educationalists, researchers, students and parents. There has also been a great number of requests for support towards the development of new projects around the world seeking to learn from Summerhill’s extensive experience of community-, freedom- and democracy-based education. To meet this demand, which is only set to grow with the approaching centenary and beyond, we plan to build a dedicated centre which will host meaningful visits and partnerships for study, sharing knowledge and innovation and will have the facilities to reach out to many more people around the world. We will also be cataloguing and archiving a very broad range of materials, records, manuscripts, minutes, diaries and photographs for long term public benefit. You can support the development of this exciting project by filling in our Development Questionnaire and/or contributing to our Fundraising campaign.

We are looking forward to seeing you all on our centenary website and joining us in our events and celebrations from now, all the way through 2021 and beyond!

The Summerhill community has asked us to

Please spread the word widely about this to our ADEC community and the wider community.

As you will see on the website there is the opportunity to develop a project either individually or as a group and share that with others around the world. There have been initial discussions about how ADEC might participate in the celebrations in 2021 and would love these to continue and develop ideas. We had planned to try to bring them together at the ADEC 2020 conference but in these uncertain times about what we will be able to do by October maybe we can set up an online process? If anyone is interested in this idea please contact Chris and Cecelia.

Stay well.