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Approach to Education: Comparison of Philosophies of A S Neill & Paul Hirst - Report Example

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This paper "Approach to Education: Comparison of Philosophies of A S Neill & Paul Hirst" discusses Neill’s approach to education that is commonly viewed as anti-academic. Neill was willing to sacrifice the brain to the heart. He has an anti-academic philosophy on education…
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Approach to Education: Comparison of Philosophies of A S Neill & Paul Hirst
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Download file to see previous pages He believed that to impose anything by authority is wrong. The child should not do anything until he comes to an opinion – his own opinion- that it should be done. He states clearly his commitment to freedom of a child: ‘we set out to make a school in which we should allow children to be themselves. In order to do this, we had to renounce all discipline, all directions, all suggestions, all moral training, and all religious instruction. The child should never be forced to learn, Attendance at lessons should be voluntary whatever the age of the child. Only learning that is voluntarily undertaken has any value, and children will know themselves when they are ready to learn. (Summerhill , p.37)

Children will only achieve happiness if they are free because most unhappiness is due to inner hostility created in the child by external repression. Neill was influenced by Freudian theory here and believed that because this inner hostility cannot be effectively expressed towards parents or others in authority; it is turned inwards and becomes self-hate. This then becomes expressed in anti-social behavior and in the worst cases leads to so-called ‘problem-children’. Happiness for Neill thus meant the state of having minimal repression. In positive terms, it consists of ‘an inner feeling of well- being, a sense of balance, a feeling of being content with life. This can only exist when one feels free.

Conventional education makes the mistake of exalting the intellect over the emotions with the result that children may know a lot of facts but lack inner contentment and fulfillment. Neil accordingly advocated “Hearts and not Heads at school”. He maintained that if the emotions are permitted to be really free, the intellect will look after itself.
Neil saw aesthetic domain (arts, crafts, dancing, and drama) as promoting creativity, imagination, and emotional well being. In particular, these subjects have a therapeutic function for children with psychological problems and also give the less academically talented children the chance to excel at something. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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