An Examination of Participatory Self-Government as a Pedagogic Tool with Special Reference to Sudbury Valley and Summerhill Schools
Abstract: The concept of the self-governing school was pioneered by the British educator A S Neill at his Summerhill school. Since his death in 1973 interest in the model has waned in the UK but a similar model based on the Sudbury Valley school in Massachusets has seen more than 30 imitators worldwide. At a time when there is increasing international concern about the quality of democratic education, this dissertation examines the mechanism of self-government in both Sudbury Valley and Summerhill in the wider context of democratic educational theory and practice. This dissertation concludes that it is reasonable to conflate the evidence from Summerhill and Sudbury Valley to form a reasonably coherent whole, that there is good theoretical support for the model and that there have been several successful implementations which tend to suggest that self-government can be a positive educational tool which is flexible enough to be capable of implementation under a limited mandate, under a relatively wide set of circumstances, but that it is by no means an easy option either for students or educators.
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