That’s all, folks: Dartington Hall School Remembered
West Aish Publishing, 1987, £3.95
ISBN 0 9512735 0 7
In July 1987, Dartington Hall School closed. Some see this as a tragedy; others see it was a just fate finally catching up with a sick institution.
This book should help people to decide the question for themselves. It is not an account of the effect the school intended to have on its pupils, written by well-meaning teachers; it is an account of the effect the school actually had, written by the pupils themselves. Although intended to some extent as a memorial to the school, it is not a eulogy; it details failures as well as successes.
In order to collect the material I advertised in the Observer, was interviewed on local radio and received some coverage in the local press. The school had a 60 th anniversary reunion in the summer of 1986 and there were a dozen contributions on display and an invitation to participate. I also wrote to about 200 people individually asking whether they would like to contribute, and exhorting them to spread the word through the grapevine.
The original request was for 400 words, giving reasons for going to Dartington and the effects of having been there, but dealing mainly with experiences of the school itself. The interpretations of this recipe were extraordinarily varied, and the suggestion as to length was generally ignored altogether.
When obvious gaps began to show – periods of time not well covered, important events or personalities unmentioned – I made some attempt to find people willing to fill them, but I was not always successful. Nevertheless, in any given year between 1930 and 1987 there were at least four contributors at the school.
Editing has been limited to clarification of meaning, shortening some of the longest pieces and removing references to times when the writer was not at the school. I have included every contribution that reached me before Easter 1987.
Other books about democratic education by David Gribble