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Title: A guided democracy for children? A case study of Summerhill School, Suffolk
Authors: Husin, Nor Hayati Binti
Advisors: Green, A
Tennent, W
Keywords: Freedom;Authority;Children’s democracy;self-governing;self-regulation
Issue Date: 2023
Publisher: Brunel University London
Abstract: This study examines Summerhill School in Suffolk, England, which was established by A.S. Neill in 1921 and is widely recognised as "the oldest children's democracy" in the world. Democracy is not exemplified in the classroom but rather outside of academic life, despite the school's association with children's democracy. This study investigates the characteristics that define Summerhill School as a democratic school. Through interviews with the school's principal, vice principal, teachers, students, former students, and public visitors on the school's visiting day, it was determined that democracy is utilised in community affairs outside of teaching and learning activities. As the participants related their experiences with obstacles in decision-making, law-making, and comprehending equality for every member, issues of democracy at Summerhill School were recognised. Adult participants report difficulties that pertain mostly to administration, whereas student participants reveal issues that go directly to their daily school routine. The data also indicate that Summerhill School's distinctive democratic practices, although somewhat resemble the representative and participatory democracy taxonomies, do not fit into any of these two groups. Summerhill School has been categorised as a guided democracy based on the theoretical framework and real-world examples of Sukarno's guided democracy in Indonesia and B.F. Skinner's Walden Two, which illustrates the community life of Walden Two based on Frazier's guided democracy. The information was gathered through interviews with each participant. Significantly, this study includes serial interviews, which were undertaken to enhance the data and compare responses to those of other participants prior to determining final themes. At Summerhill School, democracy was exercised with care, as the degree of democracy employed determines the level of freedom for students.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy and was awarded by Brunel University London
Appears in Collections:Education
Dept of Education Theses

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