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Peter Honey revisits his schooldays to discuss learned compliance


In a recent article for Training Journal, Peter Honey looks at the recent battle between the progressive Summerhill School and OFSTED over whether school lessons should be complusory, and argues that traditional schooling methods appear to be providing children with some pretty unappealing lessons which they carry with them throughout their lives.

The DFEE's suggestion is that learning must always take place in a formal classroom environment, and that the teacher always knows best, and yet at Summerhill, democracy is encouraged to the point that a meeting of pupils was convened to decide whether to accept the agreement reached with OFSTED.

Peter says that "we know that a fifth of pupils in conventional schools (a conservative estimate) are alienated by their compulsory education and leave at the first opportunity". This suggests efforts to promote lifelong learning will struggle among those disaffected with learning at such an early stage.

To read the full article, visit his website at


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