"A. S. Neill's approach to education can be summed up in a few fundamental principles:
- Human nature is basically good
- Children are innately wise and, given freedom, will develop in creative and positive ways
- Freedom is not be be confused with license: it is more accurately defined as 'self-regulation'
- Religious and moral education have negative effects, causing fear and psychological damage
- Attendance at classes should be optional: interest rather than compulsion should be the stimulus to learning
- Any school rules should be decided by a system of democratic self-government, with children themselves deciding on suitable penalties for those who transgress
- Book learning and formal knowledge are less important than character and self-determination
- An understanding of child psychology is an essential requirement for teachers."
Quotes by A. S. Neill:
"If the emotions are free the intellect will look after itself."
"Childhood is not adulthood; childhood is about playhood and no child ever gets enough play."
"Free children are not easily influenced; the absence of fear accounts for this phenomenon. Indeed, the absence of fear is the finest thing that can happen to a child."
"You cannot make children learn music or anything else without to some degree converting them to will-less adults. You fashion them into accepters of the status quo a good thing for a society that needs obedient sitters at dreary desks, standers in shops, mechanical catchers of the 8.30 suburban train. A society, in short, that is carried by the shabby shoulders of the scared little man, the scared-to-death conformist."
"The function of a child is to live his/her own life, not the life that his/her anxious parents think he/she should live, nor a life according to the purpose of the educators who thinks they know best."