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ERIC Number: EJ1093084
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 20
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0141-9072
A.S. Neill and Scotland: Attitudes, Omissions and Influences
Humes, Walter
Scottish Educational Review, v47 n1 p66-85 2015
Alexander Sutherland Neill (1883-1973) is well-known as the leading figure in the 20th century movement for progressive, child-centred education, a movement which attracted both supporters and critics. The independent school which he founded, Summerhill, was located first in Lyme Regis, Dorset and later in Leiston, Suffolk, both in England, but many of Neill's ideas need to be understood as a reaction against his experiences as a pupil and young teacher in Scotland. This paper examines his attitude to Scotland and Scottish education, drawing on his own writings, including his autobiography, the work of Jonathan Croall, Neill's biographer and editor of a collection of his letters, and the testimony of Scottish educators whose work was influenced by Neill. Detailed examination is given to Neill's 1936 book, "Is Scotland Educated"?, which has received limited attention from commentators. This volume is particularly interesting in relation to Neill's political, cultural and psychological perspectives on Scottish life and their relevance to his educational views. The book reveals the strength of his (mainly negative) feelings about his native land but also his limited awareness of some important developments that were taking place, especially in the field of child guidance. In addition, the paper explores Neill's links to other Scottish progressive educators, most notably John Aitkenhead and R. F. Mackenzie, both of whom sought to introduce qualified versions of Neill's philosophy into schools in Scotland. It is argued that it is not necessary to subscribe to every aspect of Neill's approach to education to appreciate his value as a source of an alternative narrative to official accounts of the Scottish educational tradition.
Scottish Educational Review. School of Education, University of Edinburgh, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AQ, Scotland, UK. e-mail:; Website:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (Scotland)
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A