Community Members:

Homer Lane

An American paid to come to England to run a residential farm for delinquent teenagers who would otherwise go to prison called ‘The Little Commonwealth’. He came from working with the George Junior Republics for American youth. He ran the Little Commonwealth as a democratic community, learning to live together through making decisions together. He was famous for being on the side of the child. He became a friend of A.S.Neill, and the Commonwealth community meetings inspired democratic meetings at Neill’s Summerhill School. He spoke several times at the New Ideals Conferences, being introduced by the American Ambassador and treated as a hero of the movement. He was on the New Ideals committee.

“A boy of fourteen, said Mr. Homer Lane at Stratford-on-Avon, now a citizen of the Little Commonwealth, had been birched fourteen times by order of the magistrates, but the birchings only made him worse. The very strength of his character led him to persevere in his career of lawlessness. When, however, he was admitted to the Little Commonwealth he found that his acts of rebellion won no applause, and he gradually sought an outlet for his energies and abilities in work and acts of service which had eventually made him one of the leaders of the community. It was the spice of danger and the desire to be regarded as a hero that were the motives for most juvenile wrongdoing. If these motives were removed wrongdoing ceased to be attractive. The citizens of the Little Commonwealth had been chosen from among the worst young criminals who could be discovered, but when they found themselves members of a self-governing community in which no rules were enforced except by the citizens themselves they developed a sense of responsibility and a power of initiative which changed their whole attitude towards society.” 1st Sept 1915 The Education Times and Journal of the College of Preceptors.

Homer Lane talking about the boy:

“At any point in his life during the past few years, an understanding teacher might have removed the stumbling block from his path, might have set him free, and allowed his strength to be utilized for good. But no, we would not have genius, we do not want him to be himself. We insist upon his becoming a duplicate of ourselves. And so we bind him about with convention, and as he, with the wonderful force of childhood, bursts our bonds asunder and asserts his own right to be himself, we add more and more bondage, until he hates. We have not only suffered the loss of a contributor to the welfare of society, but we have created a destructive force – a double loss.”

Norman MacMunn

In 1914 published A Path to Freedom in the School, a book explaining how he ran a democratic classroom. In the preface he thanks the embryo community for New Ideals in Education:

“I cannot refrain from expressing my deep gratitude to sympathisers among the leaders (explicit or implicit) of what we may very well call the movement for the emancipation of the child – to Mr Edmond Holmes, to Professor Culverwell, to Professor John Adams, to Mr Thiselton Mark, to Mr G.W.S.Howson – to many members of the Montessori Committee. Without this encouragement to carry me through days rendered dark by scepticism and even by hostility. I might very well have given up in despair – although I did indeed have the constant sympathy and devoted zeal of my boys, to whom I dedicate this book.” Norman MacMunn

Miss J. Noakes

Miss J. Noakes is listed in the delegate list to New Ideals Conference in 1917 with only her name and home address of Brooke Green, with no occupation.

This pdf contains more information about Miss J.Noakes, the Historical Association and WW1

Earl Lytton

Lillian de Lissa

Clara Grant

Clara Grant is a famous teacher in Tower Hamlets, she was headteacher at Devon’s Road Infant School from 1900, which was later named after her; created the Fern Street Settlement from her home in 1907 promoting health, play and community support including adults learning a trade, making dresses sold via the Settlement, a similar pattern shown by the Lester sisters in setting-up Kingsley Hall; campaigned for health work in schools having one of the first nurses to work in a school, and giving her students a hot breakfast.

Read the full article on the New Ideals in Education BlogSpot here

Harriet Finley Johnson

Rev Bertram Hawker

The New Ideals in Education community started in 1914 as the first national conference of the Montessori Society held at East Runton, Norfolk, just along the coast from Cromer. Dr Maria Montessori sent them a supporting telegram, “I associate myself cordially with the Conference in favour of the liberation of the child. Grateful for the recognition of my work.” read out by the Chairman of the opening presentation, Mr B.V.Melville. 50 of the delegates were members of the Society, their names, as for later years, printed in italics in the participant list published in each conference report.

Read the full article on the New Ideals in Education BlogSpot here

Edmond Holmes

There were three key male figures behind New Ideals in Education, who helped create the first conference and supported the organisation and later conferences.

As already mentioned, in the last blog, there was Rev Bertram Hawker, who went on to work with Save the Children, the international student union movement and helped Kurt Hahn to establish (1934) Gordonstoun School. Edmond Holmes and Earl Lytton were the other two.

Read the full article on the New Ideals in Education BlogSpot here

Sir William Mather

Margaret McMillan

Ivison Macadam, OBE,

Millicent McKenzie

Monsieur T.J.Gueritte

M. Cousinet

Albert Mansbridge

Percy Nunn

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