We had one main idea; to make the school fit the child - instead of making the child fit the school. I had taught in ordinary schools for may years. I knew the other way well. I knew it was wrong. It was wrong because it was based on an adult conception of what a children should be and of how a child should learn.
We set out to make a school in which we should allow children freedom to be themselves. In order to this, we had to renounce all discipline, all direction, all suggestion, all moral training, all religious instruction. We have been called brave, but it did not require courage. All it required was what we had - a complete belief in the child as a good being. For fifty years this belief in the goodness of the child has never wavered; it has rather become a final faith.
My view is that a child is innately wise and realistic. If left to himself without adult suggestion of any kind, he will develop as far as he is capable of developing.
What is Summerhill like? Well, for one thing, lessons are optional. Children can go to them or stay away from them - for years if they want to.
We have no new methods of teaching, because we do not consider that teaching in itself matters very much. Whether a school has or has not a special method for teaching long division is of no significance, for long division is of no importance except to those who want to learn it. And the child who wants to learn long division will learn it no matter how it is taught.