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Voices of Europe Milton Mayer American author and lecturer broadcaster and professor of social research from the University of Frankfurt today speaks with three educators of Europe first unlaced in England with Mr. A.S. Neal one of the classics of English education is a little volume called that dreadful school. Milton Maier discovered that that dreadful school is still in operation and that its founder is still in operation as well just as heartily as ever. World famous Summerhill school was established by equally famous A.S. Neil in one thousand twenty one in the county of Suffolk on England's East Coast. Mr Neil was the son of a village schoolmaster in Scotland a not uncommon background for English educators. He went to work first as a clerk and I have a dash at the age of 14 and on from there into education. Here is Mr Mayor to interview a as Neil. As I understand it that dreadful school is none other than your own
Summerhill school. Will you tell us what makes a dreadful. Oh hell it's only dreadful in the eyes of what we call Colonel Blimp that is about over 90 percent of the people of England who believe that education is lending and nothing else and they believe that most school is a freak school a fanatical school but the doesn't very much math for them because the infants of the school has been tremendous I think I first saved myself. It's known in Japan Scandinavia and not so much in America but it's known all over the world beyond what is Summerhill school. Mr. Neal why did you start it what does it stand far and how does it operate what its objectives. Some of his cause is really not the school so much as a community. The objective is to make education a much bigger thing than the
leavening school subjects. Because we look upon education from this point of view of the world the sick kids and the erotic it's full of hate and full of wars and what is the ordinary school doing to counteract those sorts of all the efforts the use of all the Latin Greek and mathematics. In a case like that. So we say what are we going to do to make children more balanced more sincere more happy. Hence we say that they must have freedom but you've got to distinguish between freedom and license. License means doing what you like and not thinking of other people freedom is doing what you like exactly but so long as you don't interfere with the freedom of other people. Hence of Johnny buys a trumpet and wants to practice when people want the lamb to sleep in the community but it likely stops him. Let's license that wouldn't be freedom of thought and the same with lessons no child is compelled to go to an adolescent's toll because
if you're going to have freedom you must of all or nothing you can't half freedom or the freedoms hopeless. I think that's about the main answer but you asked me why I started it well I thought oh that's too big a question. Main thing is it's the going's been running for over 50 years now. How does it operate apart from the fact that class attendance is completely voluntary How does it how does the school operate and what are its objectives sectors associate them to make people happy. If you if people are happy then good I don't believe in the original sin they don't believe that ever was any sin in the world of football. A dog is a nice animal if you chained it up and becomes a savage. So if you chain up a child by punishment the model lectures and anything else that is apt to become a savage do so by taking off all these restraints. The average specimen thinks that children would run wild of course they don't. The opposite that becomes social human beings sincere beings.
Does does the does this theory of yours work out as well in practice Mr Neil has as it does in theory absolutely practice well and that's a long story but I heard in the olden days I couldn't get anybody but could some banks those nobody else could send me children then practically everyone went out on a stand and what we call the good that is social. Let's give them freedom and wonderful punitive effect. Much more than a psychological means and freedom is much more important than treating people psychologically I what happens to the to the products the graduates of Summerhill school oh are they any different from the products of the traditional schools that is. Is there any evidence of this sort than Summerhill is that the Summerhill method is the right one.
Yes I think that this is a lot of evidence of course I'm prejudiced but I see that other people see in these extra people who sort of balance in life and the stuff of good will in the midst of you see that played so much and have a child never gets nearly enough played but the play behind them when the least cool they can tackle anything and in job and not only that but the lives are much more balanced than the usual people. I mean the level to spank the children the love of youth of children conscience is about sex and things like that are the never put the fear of God into them and I think that's quite enough for me. From that after all he can be very much in one generation because that condition before they come to me in this condition from the bone then and I do understand that you don't. After fact at Summerhill school to take over the job of the parents or of the home I know the children are with me for the eight months of the year and four months at home.
And the parents are all with me naturally I wouldn't children wouldn't be here but the children have been at home for many years before I ever come to lace them near us very often and sometimes a very badly damaged before they come. Does the choice of careers show or reveal any difference between the products of Summerhill and the other schools of England. I think in that way yes they tend to try and get jobs where they will be have some initiative and wear them with the MBA. Of digital and we're the ones that have to do what other people tell them. But on the other hand they can go through an apprenticeship quite easily and to be other people in order to get their own objective which is to be on the lawn as much as possible. We've got quite a few scientists and doctors and mathematicians and people like that. Mr. nail there is no mind to understand that in this in this dedication of yours at Summerhill school to the freedom of the
youngster there is no such thing as punishment. No the children we see you know we deal with them we have no adult thought of the air. Every law is made by the whole community. The child the form is the same footing part as I have. So the laws are made and they have certain token punishments if you ride somebody else's bicycle without permission. You've got an automatic fine of six months or something like that but it's mostly a token thing we don't really need punishment. Punishment never cured anything. Punishment is a hate action whether it's in the form of pinning out a model lecture it's a hate action the child knows it's now the only other thing to do is to be on the side of the child to approve of the child. I'll give you an instance of that in the days when I had so many cooks in the school I got lots of thieves and if it time a boy or girl stole I used to give them sixpence awards. If the store something bigger next time I give them a shilling or I don't say that was a dramatic hue was the beginning
because the psychology of it was every child who steals as an unhappy child and the stealing symbolically his didn't love you give him hate in the form of punishment. He becomes worse if you give them love in the form of approving of him in this case giving him some reward of £6. He automatically feels that he's being loved and won by years afterwards said to me I asked him how did you feel when I gave you that sixpence for stealing you said that remember. Clearly I thought he was the first man in my life who's ever been on my side and that's the only way that you or anybody else by love not by hate. I'm Mr. Neal with this emphasis at Summerhill on the development of freedom in the or shall I say the personality of the human individual. Do the youngsters learn anything. Well we have an examination just about two years ago. Six people is one third of what they call school certificate and that the marks were higher than
any school I know absolutely brilliantly and they'd only been working intensely and tense and living but one year they could do it if they wanted to but nobody tells them. Do you I suppose this is a question the parents invariably ask you. Do they in the persecutor of this freedom and summer hell do they acquire any. And you realize I deal with and he and he purpose in life. I sometimes wonder if there's an above us in life for all but. Myself but we never get the mad the US a supposed dangerous thing to do is to give anybody good ideas because nobody knows enough is good enough to tell another person how to live. But you do have ideals of your own. I take it Mr. Nayland don't you think there are good ideals and wouldn't you like to impart them to the young. When I have a bad day also I want to see peace on earth. Want to see you much less hate. I want to see them.
Most people happy I want to see people out of misery economic misery and all that sort of thing but it's no good I'm trying to impart these deals to children the only way to get to have your successes than live your lives it's like religion I mean to live. Religion is important but the perfect religion isn't. And we feel the same way about ideals. But then Mr. nail it seems to me that you do try to give the children ideals at Summerhill school in spite of your denial that there are hurt feelings there. I don't get the money at the U.S. dollars so dangerous Yeah I'm a grown up man I am a symbol of father and father what Father say this is the voice of authority and we tried to abolish authority you can never for men in the hills if you're following any authority I don't care who it is and the others. So if you asked and if the childe the Summerhill if they don't hear the others I think they're simply stared at you they wouldn't know what you meant because they're the elephant as the living
sincerely do the children Mr. Neal think that the school is dreadful and of course that we had 50 or pupils last weekend for the end of the term. I think that's quite a good answer. Thank you very much Mr. now. Milton Mayer has been interviewing mystery s Neil one of England's most famous educators. Many people say that Paul Gable is the greatest educator in Europe. Some say that he is the only educator in Europe naturally to find out about education in Europe one must go to see Paul behave. But you find that in order to see him you have to go to the top of the Alps in Switzerland to the little village of gold and high up in the barren or over land. Since Paul gave is 82 years old it seemed only appropriate that Milton Mayer should visit him. But when he got to golden he discovered the power Gabe wasn't there because it 82 continues his lifelong habit of disappearing a day or two a week into the mountains by
himself climbing still higher into the Alps. Polgar habe was born in the year 1870 the son of a great German botanist of his father and of his father's virtues. Paul says I inherited his beard after finishing his university studies he went to work with Dr. Harriman Leitz the founder of the first boarding schools in Germany under a system of liberal education in 1006 he founded the first co-educational boarding school in Germany in one thousand twenty established the now world famous or Germany's best known school for boys and girls in one thousand thirty four. Paul gave close the school because it was seized by the Nazis. Then went to Switzerland where established another school there called humanity. The school of mankind. They're high up in the Alps called humanity as a little world community of about fifty young people ranging from very young two years old to 21
years old. Because of electrical and language difficulties most of Milton mayor's interview with Paul game has been lost but I believe Paul gave a news views are so important that I have taken the liberty of reading his answer as Milton Mayer asked him this question. Everyone in the code you many say including the two year olds in the six year olds cause power behavior power loss. And so I suppose I should call him powerless to power as you have been an educator for 60 years. What have you learned about education. I have learned to become modest when I was a young student at the
University of Vienna. I joined the enthusiastic conception of education of the great German philosopher ficta who taught that by education the whole world could be changed. But the longer I live the more modestly I think of the power of education. There are three factors which decided success. Firstly the inherited tendencies abilities and inclinations. Secondly environment being the national economical and cultural conditions as well as the influence of irresponsible people. It is impossible to prevent each and every child from coming in contact with hundreds of people who do not feel any responsibility for it and perhaps the influence of these irresponsible people and environment is much stronger than my educational influence. Now many people have the superstition that the family would be the ideal place of education for every child. But many families perhaps most of them today are not filled with the right atmosphere in which a
child can grow up happily and in a sound way. Most families are too small and cannot provide the necessary feeling of a social community. So I have not very good impressions about the role which families play in education in general. Now the third factor educational activity. I think the educator cannot do anything better than create the right atmosphere in which children may grow up. I don't care for so-called rules and methods and measures of education. I even avoid if possible the expressions education and educator and I am more and more convinced that I am not an educator. What I have strived for all during my life is to become a human being developed as perfectly as possible. And when I started these educational homes for children I joined with a dozen friends who were of the same conviction who were also striving to become perfectly cultured human beings. And so we formed together to create the atmosphere in which children
could live and grow up in a sound way. This seems to me the most important problem for all human beings to be cultured. But of course we know it's impossible to live today without any diplomas without any examinations. And so it is our duty of course to place the youth to live with us in the condition to exercise a profession later and even to earn money. And therefore we must recognise the examinations in the fact that the future development of a human being depends on his knowledge. I remember a saying of a friend of mine the cultural formation of a human being is what will be left if he forgets all he has ever learned. It seems very little to create the right atmosphere and nothing more. But by and by I've become convinced that it is very much to expect hundreds of former pupils who are now fathers of families or even grandfathers already have assured me that the childhoods they passed in my school were the happiest years of their
lives. Not only this but also that they have gained such a lot of strength and health and power for the future for meeting all of life's blows that they think they would not have been able to suffer and to endure all this without having been under my influence and had my help. Many of my friends complained already 20 years ago that most schools all over the world are NOT do not give education in my sense but only give a preparation for a profession or earning money as soon as possible. Surely every person should become a human being. Especially when we are faced with the very shocking problem today of changing masses of individuals into social and national communities. This problem would be solved if every individual would become a human being. And the problem which occupies the newspapers daily is mostly the problem of world peace. People discuss whether the Second World War was the last one or whether third world war will follow. I think of course we educators have not the influence of politicians of ministers
and statesmen and military people but we could make a great contribution to the solution of this enormous problem when all people will have become human beings in my sense. Then there will be no more reason or opportunity for war between nations then all nations will understand each other and believe in peaceful cooperation in an economic and cultural peace. Thank you very much. PAOLO. OK. Milton Mayer interviewed Paul gave in golden Switzerland next in Rome. He speaks with Dr. Ted as he does Sandusky Shelta a physician and director of one of the tuberculosis dispensaries of the city of Rome. She is also president of the Italian branch of the international alliance of women founded by the great American women's leader. Carrie Chapman Catt and a member of the governing board of the Italian National Association for the struggle against a literacy. Here is Milton Mayer.
Dr. SCHELLENBERG how much illiteracy is there in Italy. It's the pants on what do you mean by it is that a scene. Because if you call the literacy all to suspect and say there is not nor need that we need that I think we can see the East and especially South East that the 48 percent but if you don't call it that we see all these bets on whether the younger he has it to the school. Naturally the percentage is less than if by illiteracy we do not mean people who have never gone to school. Yes because some people have gone to school when they were children for perhaps you know a few months or a year which is that if what we mean is people who cannot read
and write. The percentage of illiteracy in southern Italy that is south of Rome is forty eight percent of the population and in northern Italy and I think if he's the less we can see all we say meaning if I did that you see what I've said before but since it would do is not in the diary then either. Yeah I think I think between a 25 it you have to do. That's it. In northern industrial Italy even illiteracy is between twenty five and thirty two cents. Yes I think. But in the great southern section of Italy which is I think much more than one third of the population of all of it really you have a literacy of 40 percent. And Dr. show about these people you are
speaking of the illiterates. These are both adults and children or do you work only with adults. I wasn't speaking about the sub out the adult as Doug said because then who he knew he called it a c bets and say when say Latin satori and the now they don't know I say and how high is the illiteracy among the children. Well I cannot say because THAT I DOn't WE SHOULD to see and I think that. I think it was the it that sent the other problem. It was the same for the then or a little less. Oh oh well no but you do have compulsory education and Italy. Yes yes we always hated them. Now let me see if I understand. Since you always had compulsory education laws in Italy and if 48 percent of the adults did not become literate. It is fair to assume that 48 percent of the
present day children also are not at all. Dr. SHARMA what what is your union and union for the struggle against illiteracy. What is it doing with this from the front and they are one minister may they not only leave any teaching a lesson and he said because it will be next to or it then that would mean a Try to me again I would even people like pets and that if he said you will give them a DID THEY CAN YOU think and we cry. To give them a sense that they knew we should play in the evening found a place in which to me to guide the two years some confidence and distortion. We did the doctor of the country with the soldiers and the doctor another culture and the same pattern always taken and there
are questions and there for instance and country we have seen that the alcoholism and that is that England is the arm of the day and done away with. Run away absolutely. As a result of having these senators sent in the US and sent us a of a two thousand that city 5000 beret sons led them through and there we have noted that the in the chief of the soldiers there said they didn't even see and that is almost it is because they know the two go the. The osteria in who'll need to bring in they often to each other and the day when they know they're very interested in seeing it is that they're there after the elections in our sector of the in their 40s and feel a common
easement and they feel a monarchy is meant defeat of fascism and that it may be political but they have to meet again each other with such a struggle a very friendly and it is a very important result that the of those of us in this because we try to do a very democratic that Shamil very democratic mean democratic and teaching them the thing that they'll one mean we sayn the same mate the library in Alice S. and they say we sent the machine the same radio same boat for the sport and the machina for their work of the women and they're not a very important result is that the East the things he said in the country do women in the evening in their life. Will went their way from the house at that now.
They go out and they way they do this and without it the man said anything and they for instance and now they have it you work in the country it is poor wee men and they have the for years than say four or five Akido made the same on feet. They in the evening at seven o'clock they went to Alice as early to speak about the poetry about that the culture it seems is a very good book and the doctor show about how many of these centers do you. Does your union operate and how is this program supported Is this a government program from the government there we have a very few support and now we ever support the from Gaza so this is not new Nesco. Yes I think that is a connect that we say is if they have a same fall down if this is possible whereabouts a better deal much more help for all my points and say When is the first it was a from Gary chipmunk that memo to fund and then
I will name many many very important paper we hear from American Friends Service Committee the American for all the American Friends Service Committee lets us the quake very wary. It is very important that they have send the food they use and the stuff so in the day it sent them match money for building the same as because they are largely the toothy to do I was interested in the leap the hollowness of the country where there is a school in the school because it is cool they only do morning and then in the evening. We mixed our scientists but it is very important that where we're in there which is where everything is and they always do it you've got to sort of work because then for instance we have a lot of those imports of the furniture for the men and therefore the zebras say
and they need to teach to cut to for the women and then we need the many rooms and the it is better. Where are all to bear that in there. It will mean a just so he can think is very neat that he's moaning that he's always annoying it will only mean it is thank them especially floods that you think that would sing. Yes well then I suppose in closing I might be forgiven on an educational and noncommercial program. If I were to say that any Americans who wish to help the work of the National Union for they struggle against illiteracy in Italy can do so by getting in touch with the American Friends Service Committee in Philadelphia and the United States. Thank you very much Dr. Shelton. The program you have just heard is made possible under a grant from the fund for adult education
an independent organization established by the Ford Foundation. These programs are prepared and distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This program was introduced by Norman McKee and this is the end E.B. tape network.
Voices of Europe
A. S. Neill, Paul Geheeb and Dr. Teresita Sandesky Scelba
Producing Organization
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
Interviews with A. S. Neill, Paul Geheeb and Dr. Teresita Sandesky Scelba about education in Europe.
Series Description
Interviews with noted Europeans on a variety of subjects, conducted by Milton Mayer, American author and broadcaster, lecturer and professor in the Institute of Social Research at Frankfurt University.
Broadcast Date
Global Affairs
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Interviewee: Neill, Alexander Sutherland, 1883-1973
Interviewee: Geheeb, Paul
Interviewee: Sandesky Scelba, Teresita
Interviewer: Mayer, Milton, 1908-1986
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 52-37-17 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:22
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Chicago: “Voices of Europe; A. S. Neill, Paul Geheeb and Dr. Teresita Sandesky Scelba,” 1953-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 29, 2024,
MLA: “Voices of Europe; A. S. Neill, Paul Geheeb and Dr. Teresita Sandesky Scelba.” 1953-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 29, 2024. <>.
APA: Voices of Europe; A. S. Neill, Paul Geheeb and Dr. Teresita Sandesky Scelba. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from