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Houseparent, Summerhill School

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Use examples of radical models of schools to empower children to change their schools and develop their rights

Like all groups who have struggled for their rights children need a sense of the history of their fight, need a sense of the culture of their fight, need examples of schools and communities that have been based on their rights. Extreme examples go beyond the limits of the national state system that has historicallly imposed values of training for exams, and curricular based on A-levels and university entrance. Children need to see what is possible without these constraints, so they can debate outside the given values of schooling, and of outmoded ideas of childhood. They need to learn about examples such as A.S.Neill's Summerhill School, Alexander Bloom's St Georges in the East, Home Lanes' Little Commonwealth, Janus Korczak's democratic warsaw Orphanage...

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  • Nov 14 2011: What happens at the moment in Britain is that through primary education the most apt students are filtered through three main subject areas, English, Maths and General Science. Other subjects are offered but the focus is placed upon the big three so to speak. Teachers make an assessment of the individual childs progress in each subject and the brightest are encourraged to succeed, pushing the school up the local leaderboard securing funding, praise and attracting the brightest from other areas to apply. This leads to the education system losing sight of the actual educational process which I would call 'critical thinking' and using children as a means to an end, which is to the success of the teachers and the head-teacher. Children learn that they do not have to expand their minds through creativity and the expression of their inner-self but that conformity to the grade system is a greater way to secure success in later life.

    Children who wish to express themselves in other ways - sometimes contray to the liner feel of the grade system - are ostrisised and can be lablled as troubled children. They may very well have no interest in learning about what Shakespeare contirbuted to the English Language or what the Nepolionic Wars meant for the history Western Europe. The education system in Britain is a mash of Traditional teacher-pupil relationship and authority and an array of up-to-date technological advances and no balance has been met between the two. A child that goes home at night at plays 6 hours of Call of Duty which blows their mind with warfare and fast paced interactive gameplay is more than likely not going to be inspired by a teacher standing at the front of a class of 30 babbling about the mathematics of triangles or osmosis between plant cells.

    What is needed is an overhaul of class sizes, teachers with higher qualifications (ex-professional) with the pay packet to match and greater choise in subject matter to cater for children who don't fit the mould