Sunday, 4 September 2011

Beacon Hill School - 'the Russell School'

"Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each."

I found what seems a good paper on Beacon Hill School, founded and ran by Dora (and Bertrand) Russell. The author is 'Deborah S. Gorham, Distinguished Research Professor', so likely it's pretty sound.

I've only read the first few pages so far, but it seems very good. I post it for anyone interested.....all those millions clamouring for more on Beacon Hill.....

Link to full paper here

Indirect Link

The Introduction

This essay examines Beacon Hill School, founded in 1927 by Bertrand and Dora Russell. I consider the roles of the school’s two founders and the significance of the school as an educational and social experiment, situating its history in the context of the development of progressive education and of modernist ideas about marriage and childrearing in the first half of the twentieth century. Although Bertrand Russell played a crucial role in founding Beacon Hill, it was primarily Dora Russell’s project, and it was exclusively hers from 1932 until the school ceased to exist in 1943.

For more than a century, progressive ideas about children, childFrearing and education have gone in and out of favour. In the 60s a “free school” movement flourished in North America and in Britain, and in Britain progressive ideas had a significant effect on the State school system.

Today, in contrast, progressive ideas are largely out of favour as school authorities and parents focus on achievement and worry about “attention deficit disorder” when little boys and girls cannot sit quietly in seats once again arranged in uniform rows.

Interest in progressive education was at its zenith in the early twentieth century. It flourished in Britain in the inter-war period, which saw the founding of the New Education Fellowship and the establishment of several well-known progressive schools, including A. S. Neill’s Summerhill and the Elmhirsts’ Dartington Hall. Beacon Hill School, the subject of this paper, founded in  by the eminent philosopher Bertrand Russell and his second wife Dora Black Russell, was one of the best
known of the inter-war British progressive schools.

In this paper I examine the role of the school’s two founders and the significance of Beacon Hill School as an educational and social experiment. I explore progressive and libertarian ideas about children and education, and I focus on a number of overlapping social and moral questions that were of importance to the Russells and others. These include modernist views about marriage and monogamy, sexuality, parenthood and feminism.

Beacon Hill opened in September 1927 full of promise. Its first location was Telegraph House on the South Downs, Sussex, near Petersfield, Hampshire. The Russells’ daughter Katharine Tait recalls the “200 acres of woods and valleys, with deer and rabbits and stoats and weasels and huge yew trees we could jump into from higher trees and absolutely magnificent beech trees for climbing … [t]he real freedom to learn, to roam, to experiment—it was incomparable.”

.....[T]he school was a success even during its last few years, when financial pressures and the exigencies of wartime forced Dora Russell to move Beacon Hill to its fifth and final home, Carn Voel, her own relatively modest family house near the village of Porthcurno, a few miles from Land’s End. One former pupil recently reminisced about his experiences at Beacon Hill in the 1940s:

One of my fondest memories is of the Natural History lessons with Dora, based on the study of that great tome ‘The Science of Life’ (by H. G. Wells, Julian Huxley & G. P. Wells). Dora encouraged us to question, to follow our curiosity … into all sorts of highways & byeways of phenomena of life; to speculate; to wonder … I remember sheer fascination and a sense of the infinity of the field of knowledge that was waiting to be explored.

David Correa-Hunt wrote those words more than 60 years after he and his sister Susan had been day pupils at Beacon Hill, and they stand as a tribute to Dora Russell’s success as an educator.


socrates said...

Hey, I noticed your earlier entry on Dora Black. It was interesting. She was kind of hot. Most lefty chicks are, though they usually are in need of armpit and leg shaves. p:>

I saw your stuff advocating against schools returning to abusing their students. I totally agree. It's a no-brainer.

You need to check out my youtube channel again. I spruced it up, made it user-friendly. You should check out some of those French and Italian films. Some are very lefty.

One movie I just saw was on a true story of some British schoolgirl who got abused by her parents. The dad turned her into a prostitute. The mom made her go down on her. Weird, icky stuff. But the worst of it is that it seems Britain doesn't protect their children. It could be a topic to look into. As for Sept. 11th and Larry, I'll give it a pass.

the_last_name_left said...

She was hot? hehe I dunno, but a very impressive woman, for sure. What a fascinating life. I used to live in those parts, so doubtless I have passed near Beacon Hill.

I visited the Webb's place when I was there, I think.

I'll make sure to check yer filums/ ;)

socrates said...

When I read she was sexually liberated, I went looking for some pictures. She looked good. The older days might not have done her right in regards to looks, but she did almost hit 100. She looked like the kind of chick with a lot of pesky energy, if you know what I mean. It looks like there was nothing shy about her, and that it came from the soul.

the_last_name_left said...

The school was subject to several 'scandals', IIRC, around sex and nudity and a general libertine spirit....somewhat unsurprisingly I suppose.

I really envy children raised by tutors such as Dora and Russell, or anyone they'd likely employ. What an experience it must have been.

Though I only know a little about the school, and a little about Dora - a tangent from my interest in Russell.

I liked Russell because of his liberalism, his erudition and his wit. He seems utterly fearless intellectually. Apparently he would hold a book essentially completed in his head, then write it all out, needing only a few corrections. But read most anything by him and his range of knowledge is incredible, jumping between all sorts of historic examples with fascinating detail and relevance. What an amazing personality to be about, let alone to have as a tutor. Wonderful.

I suppose there's an interesting echo of the concerns about Beacon Hill (and of those with the concerns) amongst present-day Russell detractors such as PAtriot groups calling him 'the world's most evil man' etc.

Some like to attack him in a fashion not dissimilar to Breivik's (and others') attacks on Frankfurt School. Russell's socialism is overplayed, his libertarianism ignored. His relations with Bloomsbury set (Ottoline morrell) and the Webb's are overcooked as evidence of a British aristocratic and elitist socialism conspiring to take over and change the world. It's often made out as a pillar of the NWO. I found that all that to be an extraordinary conclusion to reach about Russell, one that I reject totally.

From an interview with Russell mentioning Webb:

Q) You're not suggesting that Webb was involved in graft.

Russell: No. But I do remember him once saying to me: "Russell , I use the other man's premisses and employ them to reach my own conclusions." I replied: "Webb, if the conclusion follows from the premisses there is no need for your intervention. If it does not, you are guilty of sophistry. " This made him very annoyed.

haha. what a guy to have about. keep you on your toes! :D

the_last_name_left said...

haha - what a funny entry for Lady Ottoline Morrell:

Morrell's lovers may have included the philosopher Bertrand Russell[citation needed], the writer Dorothy Bussy[citation needed], the painters Augustus John[citation needed], and Henry Lamb[citation needed], the art historian Roger Fry[citation needed] and, in later life, a young mason who came to work on her Oxfordshire estate[citation needed].


socrates said...

The Patriot conspiracy freak whatever crowd is a fabrication. They are anti-intellectual and of weak minds.

Their attacks on the Frankfurt School and now you say also on Russell are somewhat becoming predictable. Shocking at first, they can now be seen as a pattern. Since their philosophies and writings have no gravitas... since they feel so utterly powerless .... Their next step is to attack those who have been truly oppositional and visionary. That they believe they are capable of wooing the left is preposterous. While I do pity a lot of them, as their hearts may be in the right place to somewhat counter their ignorance, I cannot take them seriously. They are fascists without power. They are totalitarians with no one to overpower but similar weak minds.