In April 1974 the internationally famous Scottish Educationist, R.F.Mackenzie, was suspended from his post as headmaster of Summerhill Academy, Aberdeen. Bob Bell and Martin Lawn of the Educationa...l Studies Faculty examine the educational and political context leading up to this controversial suspension. The programme includes specially filmed interview material with Mackenzie himself, and makes use of documentary material from the national and local press; from the school itself, and from Local Authority education officials and Council Committees. Despite the wide coverage of this controversy, this is the only television programme to examine the events in detail. In addition, the first two radio programmes of the course explore other aspects of the Mackenzie file.
|Module code and title:
|E203, Curriculum design and development
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|Bob Bell; Martin Lawn
|BBC Open University
|Corporal punishment; Documentary evidence; Interview material; Inverlair Lodge; Leather strap; Political/educational context; R F Mackenzie; Scottish educationalist; Summerhill Academy Aberdeen; Suspension
|The programme opens with film of Inverlair Lodge and grounds, in the Scottish Highlands. Bob Bell gives a brief history of the Lodge, and explains the connection between it and R.F. Mackenzie. Bob Bell and Martin Lawn together outline Mackenzie's controversial career up to his dismissal from Summerhill Academy in Aberdeen. In interview Mackenzie outlines the innovative educational ideas which led to his dismissal. Bell and Lawn explain in more detail Mackenzie's ideas on curriculum and exams. They describe the effects of his implementation of his ideas at Summerhill. In interview Mackenzie criticises most teachers for doing no more than maintaining the educational status quo. Lawn and Bell explain Mackenzie's views on teacher child relationships, particularly discipline and corporal punishment. Bell shows us a typical leather strap used in Scottish schools. Mackenzie amplifies this subject in interview He describes the limitations of staff who depend on corporal punishment. Lawn and Bell describe the rules Mackenzie produced for the guidance of his staff, especially regarding corporal punishment. They describe his difficulty in getting staff sympathetic to his ideals, and how he publicised this problem. They also trace the development of the conflict between Mackenzie and those of his staff who disagreed with his ideas. In interview Mackenzie argues that the present curriculum and examination system are inadequate and explains why he decided not to compromise with those of his staff who disagreed with him. Bell and Lawn trace the way in which dispute at Summerhill became public. They describe the role of press, party politicians and church leaders in the affair. All of these opposed Mackenzie. Mackenzie gives his views on the church leaders, who he describes as supporters of a conservative establishment. He comments on the public campaign against him. Bell and Lawn trace the closing stages of the dispute, especially the aggravating role of the Aberdeen press and establishment. In interview Mackenzie gives his opinion of the role of the press in the final campaign against him. Lawn and Bell describe the findings of the staff committees that were discussing the problems. Mackenzie comments on these findings, the majority of which went against him, particularly that of corporal punishment for girls. Lawn and Bell trace the final confrontation between Mackenzie and his Education Committee, and his ensuing suspension. The effects of this on the school and in the press are described. Lawn and Bell review the whole issue, analysing what happened. They suggest various reasons for the affair. Mackenzie gives his retrospective opinion. From Inverlair Lodge Bell describes Mackenzie's current plans for an independent school at the Lodge.
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