Summerhill: theory and practice.
The thesis is an exploration of Summerhill, the school founded by A.S. Neill in 1921. It is an ethnographic study, focusing on the culture of Summerhill, and attempting to find out what being a Summerhillian means. It also looks at how Summerhill has been depicted by those on the `outside'.
Five chapters are specifically about the school - giving a descriptive account of the workings of the culture. The remaining chapters explore how others have looked at the institutions and how the practice of research itself affects the possibilities for discovery and explanation. A major concern of the thesis is the methodological significance of being an `insider' - as the researcher is an ex-Summerhillian.
Chapter one is a brief introduction to the thesis. Chapter Two describes the genesis of the study and looks at issues of `cultural translation' and `insider research'. The following chapter on `School Life' is the first of the substantive chapters, offering a descriptive account of the life and culture of those in the school. Chapter Four, entitled `Big Kids' considers the notion that Summerhill has community `elders', while Chapter Five looks at the role of staff. The Meeting is the focus of Chapter Six, where the policy of self-government is examined. Chapter Seven explores the system of voluntary lessons. Chapter Eight looks at views of Summerhill as represented in written material. The final chapter offers an overview of the main points of the thesis, and concludes with some of the writer's own `insider' reflections.(DX174307)