It was founded in the mid 1930’s and really reflected the John Dewy “progressive education” ethos of a liberal education; the progressive critique of the conventional assumptions about learning, pedagogical principles and economic thinking as well as religion. The Burgess school was kind of an “orthodoxy” of this avant-gard style education. Do as you please and no nonsense about it was pretty much the motto. A vanguard experiment without rules. In a way, the idea to work outside of instinct, outside of calculation has merit. At least to some degree. Here they could eat and sleep when they choosed. The headmaster, James East, a Cambridge graduatet and former theology student asked for no obeissance except climbing on the roof. I suppose you could think of an Abbie Hoffman or Jerry Rubin as candidate style material….
(see link at end)…Welcome to Burgess Hill, The Mod ’60s Boarding School Where You Can Do Whatever You Want Sure, now is the time of Waldorf and Montessori educations — an age where we let children learn and discover at their own pace by assembling corn husk dolls and baking pita bread — but the new millennium of progressive education has nothing on Burgess Hill, the 1960s boarding school in Hertfordshire, England. Populated by young, gum-chewing mods, Burgess Hill was a school where students were allowed to smoke, listen to records, make modernist paintings and do the twist. Said one student of the education, “We learn no more than we would at a normal school, but there are compensations, like being happy.”
Other compensations? Taking your dog to class and wearing cat-eye sunglasses like Queen of the Beatniks.Read More:http://jezebel.com/5905118/welcome-to-burgess-hill-the-mod-60s-boarding-school-where-you-can-do-whatever-you-want
It was a place of little furniture, mostly wooden benches and tables. The advantage claimed was that students wanted to learn, otherwise they wouldn’t come to classes. It eventually closed in the early 1960’s for lack of funds. The end of a child’s utopia.
( see link at end) …Boarding school in the 1960s usually conjures up images of cane-wielding disciplinarians, Latin lessons and smart uniform. But not if you had the fortune to go to the avant garde social experiment that was Burgess Hill – where lessons were voluntary. Fancy a cigarette during class? No problem. Plough through the school grounds on a motorbike? Ditto…..
…’But here’s a boarding school where youth is not merely allowed but encouraged to have its fling.’…And the ethos of the school, according to its headmaster, James ‘Jimmy’ East (apparently a Cambridge MA) is simple: Every child should first find himself – education can come later.’…And education clearly was not priority… since students were discouraged from learning to read or count. The narration continues: ‘Stafff of the school believe that if you blindly forbid children to do something, then they will certainly revolt.’ What follows is something that would probably give Ofsted a heart attack: A girl reaches for her pencil case and takes out a cigarette, which she then lights up. The voiceover adds: ‘The answer is to allow them to find out whether these conventions are good or bad. Besides, smoking calms the nerves.’ The scene then cuts to a worryingly young child, aged around 12, smoking as he strolls through the extensive grounds – and the equally disturbing sight of rockers tearing through the woods on motorbikes (without helmets)….Meal time is also caught on camera – with the inclusion of a dog wandering around the tables in search of scraps. And what better way to see out a hard day’s learning than with a boogie. Classmates young and old ‘dressed in beat uniform’ dance to the twist… with the added twist of boys on bikes cycling among them.Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2134332/Sixties-school-Burgess-Hill-let-pupils-smoke-class-zoom-motorbikes–wanted.html#ixzz210T4aWH9
(see link at end)…Nevertheless, in the 1950s, during a time of cold war anxiety and cultural conservatism, progressive education was widely repudiated, and it disintegrated as an identifiable movement. However, in the years since, various groups of educators have rediscovered the ideas of Dewey and his associates, and revised them to address the changing needs of schools, children, and society in the late twentieth century. Open classrooms, schools without walls, cooperative learning, multiage approaches, whole language, the social curriculum, experiential education, and numerous forms of alternative schools all have important philosophical roots in progressive education. John Goodlad’s notion of “nongraded” schools (introduced in the late 1950s), Theodore Sizer’s network of “essential” schools, Elliott Wigginton’s Foxfire project, and Deborah Meier’s student-centered Central Park East schools are some well known examples of progressive reforms in public education; in the 1960s, critics like Paul Goodman and George Dennison took Dewey’s ideas in a more radical direction, helping give rise to the free school movement. In recent years, activist educators in inner cities have advocated greater equity, justice, diversity and other democratic values tgh the publication Rethinking Schools and the National Coalition of Education Activists.
Today, scholars, educators and activists are rediscovering Dewey’s work and exploring its relevance to a “postmodern” age, an age of global capitalism and breathtaking cultural change, and an age in which the ecological health of the planet itself is seriously threatened. We are finding that although Dewey wrote a century ago, his insights into democratic culture and meaningful education suggest hopeful alternatives to the regime of standardization and mechanization that more than ever dominate our schools. Read More:http://www.uvm.edu/~dewey/articles/proged.html