My 4 year old daughter started school last week. There have been tears most mornings. Her teacher told me we need to do something about her “disruptive” behaviour. As we leave our child in the classroom, screaming, it’s set me thinking about the whole “This is society, get used to it” thing.

I like this photo by Fin Fahey on Flickr because it sums up how I feel about the school. Fin’s photo shows a gate sweetly inscribed “Girls & infants”, with graffiti and barbed wire all over it. The gate is padlocked and although it looks like this should be the entrance, it’s not at all clear how to navigate it.

It’s what business coach and facilitator Johnnie Moore refers to as the “come here now fuck off” approach. How many companies operate like this? Instead of making employees feel loved and cosy, they do just the opposite.

At a workshop with the UN last year I met a lovely man called Michael Parmly who told me to read Summerhill by A.S.Neill. This is a business presentation, I thought. Why is he talking to me about education?

But it makes sense for us to go back to school to understand a lot about organisational behaviour today.

I’ve only browsed a few pages of the book but already I’m hooked. The basic underlying philosophy is that if you give children love and support and they will thrive; focus on results alone and you will alienate them.

I guess what Michael Parmly was pointing out is this: a little bit of love and freedom works wonders for all of us.

Give attention, not bribes


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