John Holt in The Mother Earth News

Why did a man who was at one time a conservative, traditional schoolteacher come to advocate keeping one’s children out of school? How can parents successfully remove their youngsters from public school in the first place? And why does Mr. Holt think that readers of THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS should be especially interested in his ideas?

To get the answers to these and other questions, MOTHER EARTH NEWS sent staffer (and former schoolteacher) Pat Stone up to talk with John Holt in his tightly cluttered office in Boston, Massachusetts ... where, in his scant spare time, John puts one of his central educational beliefs—that a learner should be responsible for her or his own learning—to practice by teaching himself to play thecello. The following edited transcript of their conversation deals with an admittedly radical approach to learning. Many readers will, no doubt, discover that they strongly disagree with Mr. Holt’s thoughts. On the other hand, a few will probably be relieved to find that somebody out there feels as they do and is trying to help. No matter what your own response is, however, we’re betting that John’s words will set you to thinking about the state of education and of children in America today.