Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy Birthday John Holt

Yesterday was John Holt's birthday. For those not familiar Holt brought to the forefront the idea of unschooling through such mediums as his popular newsletter, Growing Without Schooling, and the library of books on the subject he authored. Holt was a true revolutionary who recognized that not only could children learn without schools, they should.

In Teach Your Own he makes his views about schools clear:

"I have used the words "home schooling" to describe the process by which children grow and learn in the world without going, or going very much, to schools, because those words are familiar and quickly understood. But in one very important sense they are misleading. What is most important and valuable about the home as a base for children's growth in the word is not that it is a better school than the schools but that it isn't a school at all. "

I do recognize that not every parent can or should homeschool their child, much less unschool them. I also realize that schools are necessary for this reason, and that they do the best they can. This is the same reason that canned green beans are necessary. Fresh green beans from an organic garden are the healthiest possible choice but aren't available to everyone. Some people opt for green beans from the farmer's market because they can't, for whatever reason, grow their own. Other people will buy frozen green beans and still others will buy them in a can. Canned green beans do still have some nutritional content but not nearly as much as their fresh picked counterpart. This is how I view schools. They are doing the best they can with what they have. The green bean manufacturers aren't bad. The people eating them aren't bad either. But there is a better way.

So it goes with schools. A crowded classroom with an overworked, underpaid teacher who can't possibly attend to every child's individual needs is not the best place for learning to take place. There is a better way. Thank you John Holt for recognizing this decades ago and blazing the trail for the rest of us.

1 comment:

aerofan from THSL said...

I agree...thank you John Holt.