Malting House interior, c.1990. The original balconies are still visible, where stenographers took notes on the children’s conversations and behaviour. Pyke’s family quarters were to the right.
Susan Isaacs with children at the Malting House School.
Children in the Malting House workshop where they used an adult-sized drill press and lathe.
Malting House children with a gramaphone they operated themselves.
However, Isaacs did acknowledge that within a free environment children also needed order, security and guidance. Through her observations of children in their play she saw how the children used the environment to make sense of the world, noting that children showed a capacity for logical thinking that was not fundamentally different from that of adults (May, 1997: 169). Yet she also saw the shortcomings of Piaget’s theory of stages, and questioned his reliance on clinic-based observations, noticing that children were more likely to show their thinking and capabilities in an environment like the Malting House School (Grenier, 2009: 26)