Marcus's picture
Submitted by Marcus on Sun, 2006-06-04 20:41

Here is an article about a school where pupils are encouraged to behave as indivduals. However, children need discipline too, don't they?

“Summerhill has 200 more laws than any other school,” she revealed. “It has been called the ‘do-as-you-like school’, but it isn’t. You can skip lessons, they are optional. That is part of your freedom as an individual.

“If you want to sunbathe in the nude that would be fine. But if you want to play the drums at 1am, it is not fine if you wake someone else up.”

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Lisa van Damme

Peter Cresswell's picture

Yep. Mark me down as another of her fans.

Cheers, Peter Cresswell

Visit Peter's Daily Blog: 'NOT PC.'
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Lisa VanDamme

Lanza Morio's picture

The two Lisa VanDamme articles I've read in The Objective Standard are fantastic. She is a clear thinker. She is honest. She is benevolent. She is dedicated. She has created an educational environment that can guide a child to reach his or her potential.


jdlimber's picture

Thank you for the information and preview. That is great news. I'll look into it and tell Scott you sent me.

Thanks again, Jennifer

First History for Adults

DianaHsieh's picture

If you wish that you had the benefit of a VanDamme education, I cannot recommend highly enough Scott Powell's "First History for Adults." Scott is the history teacher at the VanDamme Academy. He's fantastic.

Here's what I say about that First History class, plus the new Remote History Program he's offering (via the VanDamme Academy) for homeschoolers. (This NoodleFood post, just written about a half hour ago, is waiting in my queue. So you folks are getting it early!)


Often, upon hearing one of Lisa VanDamme's excellent lectures on education, I wish that I could travel back in time to re-educate myself at her VanDamme Academy. Even though I had a stellar education by American standards, I know that I'd be a far more clear and well-grounded thinker if I'd had her kind of education under my belt. From what I've heard from people at OCON, I'm not alone in those sentiments.

Happily, my "First History for Adults" course with Scott Powell, the history teacher at the VanDamme Academy, is giving me a chance to catch up on some of what I missed. I'm growing ever-more excited about that course, particularly with the way Scott teaches history. It's like nothing I've ever experienced before, either in school, with my history reading, or from Objectivists. I'm finally learning -- and really learning, not just hearing in one ear and out the other -- and integrated, essentialized history. Now, when I read more detailed accounts of some era or event, I'll not just be able to place that new material in a clear context, but I'll also be able to use his methods to essentialize, integrate, and retain that new knowledge. So I cannot recommend his "First History" course highly enough.

I'm also delighted to recommend his new Remote History Program for homeschoolers, now officially announced. Denying your children the opportunity to learn history from Scott Powell borders on child abuse. (Okay, I admit that I'm exaggerating a bit -- but just a tiny bit!) Here's the announcement:

    VanDamme Academy History Program Now Available to Homeschoolers

    VanDamme Academy, a private school in Orange County, CA, has been providing an acclaimed curriculum to its students for over five years. In that time, thanks in part to its history program, it has grown from a homeschool with a handful of students to a private school with over 70 students.

    Now, VanDamme Academy's exciting program is available to homeschoolers everywhere via its Remote History Program.

    This exciting program features:

  • a comprehensive three-year curriculum covering the history of Western civilization
  • live teleconference instruction, and digitally recorded web-based lectures
  • assistance to parents and homeschool teachers in the implementation of the curriculum

    Be sure to visit the school's website, and to join our Remote History Program News List.

    Curriculum and program administration information is available on the Remote History Program webpage.

    We look forward to hearing from you!

    Scott Powell
    Teacher, Remote History Program
    VanDamme Academy


I've written some other posts on my "First History" class on NoodleFood. You can find the posts with this search.

P.S. If you decide to take Scott's history course, tell him that you found out about it from me.

-- Diana Hsieh


jtgagnon's picture

If I ever have kids (which remains a big IF), I'd most certainly send them to VanDamme...I often find myself wishing I had experienced that sort of education.

destructive comparison

User hidden's picture

As Summerhill is about total freedom in what one learns and self-motivation, calling Van Damme Academy the anti-Summerhill is destructive. While I would never send my child to Van Damme, I do think it is a good sight freer than most public schools and that the children are motivated more by love of the subject matter and less by praise and coercion than public and private schools of any other kind.

To put the two in total opposition is a misunderstanding of both.


Alternative to Summerhill

jdlimber's picture

I wish I lived in Orange County Calfornia. I would send my son here: The anti-Summerhill.

Taking the dichotomy to the extreme(s) ...

VSD's picture

... your view assumes that children have not the slightest interest in learning (as opposed to schooling - I'll deal with that further on) which in my experience is totally wrong - as a child I (and the children I've related to) had the greatest hunger for learning I ever experienced (whish I could have retained more of it) - everything is new, everything is a potential pleasure or at least interest, or a simple basic necessity for survival - your brain, your intellect, is still developing and storing/processing information that would put dozens of Deep Blues to shame ...

children are not lazy by nature, they are on the contrary extremely active - the trick is (as Lance also pointed out) to pique their interest, to find out what they are curious about and give them all the knowledge and experience possible in that area - and this is where schooling fails ...

schooling prescribes a standard set of knowledge to be meeted out in standard portions to standard pupils, digestible to the lowest common denominator - at school I was actually told to do less, learn less, than I did on my own in breaks or at home - this does not cater at all for individual differences or needs ...

same goes for 'my children' - they were home-schooled without any official lesson-plans and when some of them reached the level where us mothers could no longer provide knowledge we found schools for them: they were three levels advanced on subjects of their interest and we did not require them to take classes they had no interest in (which is more-or-less possible in private schools) so they could maintain their excellence ...

the one thing I never had to do (in home-schooling or at school) was to tell the kids 'what to do' - they practically flooded their mothers and teachers with questions, interests, activities, learning ...

though this does not provide a generic 'one-fits-all' view of childrens' educational needs it did work out for my brood and it would have worked much better for myself if I had been offered such opportunities - and to me that's the criteria I'm interested in: it worked ...

as for that 'job' thing: there is no 'job to learn' - we don't pay our kids to do it (though we waste billions on incapable state-schools) and they do it on their own anyway, un-forced, even while baking naked in the sun - same goes for learning re-usable skills for later job-opportunities to 'support your meager existence': if it's no fun it's not worth supporting ...

as for 'support': one of our kids (she's now fourteen) could take over my current job in IT any time (I spent six years studying English Literature to now work in IT - what a 'waste') - I'd be tempted to let her, but she's capable of much more in bio-engineering and I currently don't need the money - so I let her do just as she pleases Smiling

Anytime a child is put in a

Lanza Morio's picture

When a child is put in a room with other children the dynamic changes from an individualistic one to a collectivist one. It instantly becomes "We learned..." and not "I learned...". The best we can do is to provide as much one on one instruction as we can.

Every child is different. One child responds well to a focused course of study and the other feels trapped by it. That's a judgment only a good teacher can make. And even then there are no guarantees. Kids have volition, too.

If a teacher can get a kid to see what he or she is capable of - to believe in their capabilities - then the teacher has done the job well. It's just filling in the details after that.

We disagree. If you want to

User hidden's picture

We disagree. If you want to see more elaboration on my ideas about this, there is a very long and good thread (thank you to Phil for being a great "opponent") on unschooling in the solohq archives.


That's quite a false

Penelope's picture

That's quite a false told what to do all the time vs. lay about in the sun with your bits exposed rather than attend class?

Independence does not have anything to do with doing whatever you feel like, and a child has no other basis on which to make decisions. He doesn't know what's good for him and it is an abdication of your responsibility, as a parent and as a teacher, if you leave the decision "What do you want to do?" to him. So when can you leave it to him? At play time, for instance. But not when his job is to be learning.

And you don't learn to think

User hidden's picture

And you don't learn to think by being told what to do all the timne.


That has nothing to do

Penelope's picture

That has nothing to do whatever with individualism. You can't be an individual until you've learned to THINK. I think the right approach to education can be found at places like the VanDamme Academy and the LePort schools.

You all know . . .

User hidden's picture

my feelings about education, at least those of you who were here the first time I posted a lot. I am a strong supporter of schools like Summerhill. There are a bunch in the US called Sudbury schools. I just wanted to point out that these places are far from Lord of the Flies institutions. I do think the idea of democracy is taken too far, going a bit into mob rule, instead of just self government. But, they all have strong rules, kind of like bills of rights, that prevent infringement on other people's ability to thrive. Rules change and shift based on the school's assembly, but cannot change to violate other student's rights. I wish there was a school like this near me. I would send Livy there in a second. Aquinas Heard (used to post here occasionally too) may start something like this in Atlanta eventually.


I read ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... one of A. S. Neill's books years ago, before I was even a libertarian, let alone an Objectivist. It would be interesting to me to see what my reaction is now. My memory is that, as described in the book, Summerhill was certainly an improvement on the conformist flogging centres run by the state, but maybe it went too far the other way (why does Lord of the Flies come to mind?). Perhaps (if this recollection is accurate) they have it more right now.


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