Lara: I've experienced about 1500 hours of school during my life, with a variety of teachers that taught me differently. I always wanted to know what was the ideal way to teach students. What would the student and teacher relationship be like? How much of a role does a school have on the way a child's learns? What needs to be changed with the way education is being taught to better benefit students?
Neil: I've been an educator at other schools and I knew that the other way was wrong. It was wrong because it as based on an adult conception of what and how a child should learn. I founded Summerhill where classes are optional and children are put into classes by age or interests.
Rafferty: How can you leave children alone and expect them to educate themselves?
Neil: I believe that a school should fit the child, instead of the child fitting the school. It demonstrates freedom, and if a child really wants to learn something, he or she will learn it no matter how it is taught.
Lara: I like the idea, the school should fit the individual students needs and the way the student needs to learn.
Neil: Children are innately wise and realistic. If left to the individual even without adult suggestion of any kind, he or she will develop as far as he is capable of developing.
Rafferty: It seems like Summerhill only encourages the pupil to only compete with their previous best efforts. The success of that individual later in life would be dependent on how well he or she is taught in school to hold their own in an increasingly completive world.
Neil: Your way of instruction is forcing old heads onto young shoulders. For generations the way education has been taught created docile, uncreative children who will fit into a civilization whose standard of success is money.
Rafferty: Sooner or later, a human being must come to an arrangement with the world around him. Either that individual will adjust to it or he or will be ill-fitted for the task if the teacher has convinced him that that the universe is going to accommodate him.
Lara: There is a reality out there that measures educated people as better fit for the world. I feel like Summerhill would immensely shelter someone because they live with no rules or instruction. I don't think it would be easy for that child to be able to adapt in a world where that is expected out of him.
Rafferty: Children should learn and act in a disciplined manner. A Summerhill student will grow up saying and doing just as he pleases, why pay for tuition when he can do that sort of thing at home, free.
Neil: There was a lad from Summerhill named Jack. He failed the university exams because he hated book learning. His lack of knowledge about Lamb's Essays or the French language did not handicap him in life because now he is a successful engineer. There are exams available for students that want to go to the university. Of course they
don't always pass at the first try. The more important fact is that they try again.
Lara: The way I've been taught in the past is through narrating or book learning. I would actually prefer it my teacher provided other alternatives in the way they teach that are more hands on and not just straight out of the book.
Kohn: Teachers should analyze the curriculum and see how it can be changed to be more engaging. They should be provided a safe and caring atmosphere where they can ask questions and receive help.
Rafferty: A school is not a health resort, nor a recreation center or a psychiatric clinic. It is a place where wisdom of the masses has been passed from one generation. Children are taught to learn and think in a logical and systematic fashion.
Kohn: This logical and systematic fashion uses a method called logical consequences. Its ways manipulates behavior that destroys the potential for real learning. It's a way of of doing things to punish children instead of working with them.
Lara: I remember in elementary school, whenever I had got a good grade on my test my teacher would put stickers or some sort of award on my test. I understood that getting good grades was a good thing because I was rewarded. Others who didn't do so good didn't get any stickers.
Neil: You can't be on the side of the children if you punish them and storm at them.
Stickers signify praises, and if one child receives a sticker on his work and another does not, it promotes self depreciation. It internalizes that child to believe that his work is not good work therefore he will get more bad marks on his papers. At Summerhill, a child knows that he is approved off.
Kohn: It is also the teacher's responsibility to facilitate a proess by which kids come to grapple complex ideas. Teaching naturally does not include sugarcoating with praises and offering kids little doggie biscuits for doing and remembering what we tell them.
Rafferty: Schooling is not a natural process and it is highly artificial. No boy in his right mind ever wanted to study long division and historical dates when he could be out and about climbing trees.
Kohn: It's given that a child will be more interested in other things. You won't expect kids to jump up and down to do a problem. However that doesn't give teachers a license to treat kids like pets when the task is uninteresting. The more you reward someone for doing something, the less interest that person will tend to have in whatever he or she was rewarded to do.
Lara: A student may not know exactly what they want to do but they have an idea of what they enjoy doing. In OPRF, there are mandatory classes a student needs to take in order to graduate and so these classes take up time in which they could be doing something they like.
Rafferty: If students picked their classes that would be granting them compete freedom and that isn't the main goal of the instructional process.
Neil: The function of a child is to live his own life, not the life according to the purpose of the educator who thinks he knows what's best.
Lara: There are teachers that practice the concept of banking education where the students become containers in which the teachers narrate and fill them with material. The student memorizes these information except they don't fully grasp the material or understand what it means.
Kohn: In my 3 C's of motivation, the first C stands for content and this is where the teacher asks the question, "Has the child been giving something worth learning?". The third C is choice and the teacher's role is making the kids think about what they're doing and why. Kids learn to make good choices not by following directions.
Lara: I agree, and instead of praises there should be positive motivation coming from the teacher using support and encouragement. Teachers should engage their students in the lesson. Students should take on the responsibility of being an active participator during the in class discussions. They are to make sure that they ask questions so the teacher has a better grasp with what ideas or concepts his or her students are not coming into focus with.
Neil: In Summerhill, the student and teacher are equal. Even though they know I am bigger and more knowledgeable it does not matter when I meet them on their ground. These kids don't fear the staff, and the absence of fear makes free children not easy to be influenced.
Rafferty: I cannot comprehend how Summerhill can be considered a school. Sure students will work with a will and an interest but their achievements are meager!
Things can be certainly learned here but things can also be learned in pool has, drag races, discotheques. The only difference is that we don't call these places school.
Lara: I don't think the purpose of school is to attain happiness, but it can certainly be a tool that can shape you positively and help you get happiness. There should be a balance with how much freedom the school gives you but there should also be rules and responsibilities for the students to follow and the classes they have to take. For this to work, both parties must work in harmony to communicate with each other. Ideal changes can be a possibility if the school fit's the needs of students and a teacher changes the curriculums and methods to better benefit the students.
About Author / Additional Info: