Girls Will Be Grils
Most books about child behavioural disorder give the expert's-eye-view. They present the theory behind the child. This book, however, about a community of disturbed adolescent girls or "grils" takes a quite different perspective.
In a series of short documentary episodes the children themselves are presented centre-stage. The reader finds himself or herself projected on to the proscenium. Incidents from the daily life of the school portray the adolescent girl when she explodes into "grif," and show how the most uncontrolled and obnoxious of "grils" can spiral out of her other self and become the most generous and enchanting of girls.
These stories, chosen for their narrative flow and dramatic turns of event, portray much of the humour, some of the poignancy, but it is hoped few of the longueurs, of working with disturbed children in a residential setting. The theory behind the practice may be looked for between the lines.
While clearly intended for an adult audience, the stories are enjoyed by intelligent teenagers, and may be read to children who have not developed reading skills or are simply resistant to being taught. In one sense, the dissident child is the most appropriate audience for these tales about dissident children.
Rowen House School
Bryn Purdy was invited by Neill to work at Summerhill and by Wills to work in his Bromley project. He became head of a day school for disturbed children in the State system, and, with his wife Meg, opened and ran a residential school, naming it Rowen House after the Utopian thinker and eutopian practitioner, Robert Owen. The Laneill Press was created in homage to Lane & Neill, and to give witness in a series of documentary anecdotes to show what happens when the disturbed child is given 'freedom' to become himself.
He tested the principles of 'The Summerhill Idea' in schools for disturbed children for over a quarter of a century, offering the child the option of attending class or not, and incorporating a daily Meeting, or 'Moot', to discuss non-punitively the resolution of behavioural and communal issues.
Latterly, he created a cottage press, named after Neill, to present the child's-eye-view of life and of school.
Copyright Bryn Purdy 2004 Web design Jed Bland 04.04.07