“The Freedom to Learn Forum took place at Summerhill School from the 6-8th April 2018 celebrating humanity in education, and bringing together educators, families and innovators to showcase and inspire learning communities governed by equality, freedom, and collaboration around the UK.
All those who attended the Freedom to Learn Forum were united by the belief that children, teachers and families should be seen and heard. When every member of a learning community has input and influence, they feel happier and become active citizens, contributing positively to the society around them.”
I had the fortune of being invited to this forum at Summerhill School, which provided an opportunity for me and the kids to camp in our camper, experience Summerhill School in all its brightness and freedom, and see some of the beautiful coastline of Suffolk.
Summerhill School is amazing, it’s set in beautiful grounds, birds singing all over the place, lots of trees, skateboarding ramps and 2 big trampolines and a wooden climbing frame! All this gives the impression as to it’s being a place for young people. It reminds me a little of the Krishnamurti Brockwood Park School in Hampshire, where I went for Another Learning is Possible, when I was researching the ideas I would explore in my documentary. At both these establishments, the children display the confidence that it seems only money can buy. The privilage of growing up in a culture that takes you seriously from a very young age seems only for the few, when actually it needs to be for the masses. Democratic schools need to be truly inclusive, and this means they have to be free in my opinion.
I was also able to show my film Freedom to Learn, which is also so meaningful when I can talk to the audience afterwards. I was very interested to have a number of teenagers in the audience, who at various points throughout the film, would turn to their parents and nod. After the film was finished I asked them if they enjoyed it and one teenager said to me that he felt depressed after watching it as it summed up his experience of school perfectly. It is utterly depressing that my film represents such a negative experience of going through the school system, as much as it gladdens me to know the ideas I am fighting for have a real need.
We must protect our children’s freedoms, autonomy and agency.