CHILDREN ON THE HILL by Michael Deakin


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British filmmaker Deakin, documentary-bound, searched out a family of spectacularly precocious youngsters and their parents in a remote Welsh village to record a unique experiment in home education. The parents -- Maria, an Italian woman of a well-to-do but emotionally deprived childhood, and Martin, son of Jewish/English immigrants -- have raised their four children (eleven to five years at the time) utilizing educational techniques initially based on the Montessori method. In order to catch that moment of sensibility when the ""door"" to the child's mind is open, Maria forged well beyond Montessori, devoting herself full-time to helping and listening. The home is an environment removed from outside pressures; children determine their own speeds and learning interests; the parent plays a reciprocal rather than authoritative role and ""surrenders"" his own pursuits to the process. Certainly the children are remarkable -- one a gifted mathematician, eligible for university at age eleven, another a possibly brilliant pianist. Unfortunately the author's mini-media reportage does not fully probe the emotive personalities and social interplay of -- to some cynics -- these eerie little beings, but the theories underlying this extreme and fascinating experiment should be of interest, particularly to the Montessori coterie.

Pub Date: Aug. 7th, 1973
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill