Posts in John Holt
John Holt on Violence and the Democratic National Convention of 1968

August 28, 2018, is the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Though not present, John Holt supported the students and was highly critical of the police. John adds some thoughtful commentary and advice about being careful not to turn just anger into blind hate in this previously unpublished piece.

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How Children Learn and the Leap of Faith

Fifty years ago John Holt woke the dreary world of educational theory by showing that for small children “learning is as natural as breathing.” His brilliant observations are as true today as they were then. Over a million copies were sold worldwide in the decades that followed. This new, 50th anniversary edition features a Foreword by teacher/author Deborah Meier, who praises Holt's influence on herself, in schools, and in homes.

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New Fiction Inspired by John Holt's Writing about Learning

Books about homeschooling tend to be nonfiction and educational in tone, so it is a pleasure to see an increase in novels written by homeschoolers that add fresh perspectives and stories about homeschooling and family life. I want to call out these two novels because they share a common inspiration—John Holt’s writing.

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Freedom and Beyond

Holt's most political book, Freedom and Beyond is also a very practical and useful book for parents and anyone who works with children because it explores in detail many of the tensions caused by giving freedom. Partners who argue over the value of self-directed learning, who worry about discipline, and so on will find that Holt presents both sides of these tensions and notes they will never go away . . .

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John Holt on What Are a Deschooled Society and Alternatives to Schooling?

From Freedom and Beyond: "In sum, a deschooled society would be a society in which everyone shall have the widest and freest possible choice to learn whatever he wants to learn, whether in school or in some altogether different way . . . . It would be a society in which there were many paths to learning and advancement, instead of one school path as we have now . . . a path far too narrow for everyone, and one too easily and too often blocked off from the poor."

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Unschooling, Anthologized

John Young, a twelfth-grade English teacher, recently contacted me about The Norton Reader, which he uses in his classes and that first introduced John Holt’s thoughts about education to him years earlier. Mr. Young mentioned that Norton was no longer using Holt’s article and he was disappointed in this development . . .

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You Do Not Need a PhD to Look at a Child and to Think About What He is Doing

From John Holt's reply to Dr. Jerome Bruner's letter to the NY Review of Books: "The proper business of the intellectual is to make complicated ideas more simple, not simple ideas more complicated; to make the real world more comprehensible, not less so." Read more about this sharp exchange . . .

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In Remembrance: John Holt

September 14, 2015, marks the 30th anniversary of John Holt’s death and I’ve been conflicted as to what to write about it . . . As I thought about this anniversary I went through various books and files for inspiration and I came across the documentary slide show we created for the Growing Without Schooling 20th anniversary conference in 1997 . . .

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John Holt's Book and Music Store: Now Online!

"How did you homeschool/unschool without having the Internet?" Well, John Holt created a book and music catalog for helping parents and children find learning materials that were either unavailable from school product providers (they didn't support homeschooling then as they do now) or that he thought were better books and materials than standard-issue curricula. I collated most of the books and materials we sold into this list . . .

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Unschooling and Social Change

Many educators grasp the importance of letting children learn through their own joy and passions, but almost none recommend that unschooling can be a sound way to do so. Even fewer dare to be education heretics and question why we need to box children into schools and how else they might learn and grow in today's world . . .

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New Unschooling Videos

Three types of media for you to enjoy: The slides, bibliography, and videos from my recent talk about how parents of preschool-age children can best help them learn; a new video about Holt's Learning All the Time; and a synchronized update of my slides and video, Homeschooling and Unschooling, presented at the Alternatives to Compulsory Schooling conference at Harvard University in April 2013.

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Homeschooling Summarized in the Congressional Quarterly Researcher

After outlining the general issues the March 7, 2014, Congressional Quarterly Researcher report looks in depth at three key questions:

1. Should governments oversee home schooling more strictly?
2. Is home schooling academically superior to public schooling?
3. Can home schooling help the public school system?


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