Sunday, February 27, 2011

John Holt, Advocate of Home Education


John Holt (1923 – 1985) is best known as an educator and proponent of homeschooling. His views were considered radical and progressive. He once commented that “…the things I’m supposed to know so much about I never learned in schools”. During his lifetime, he studied children of all ages and worked as a fifth grade teacher. He found that babies and toddlers were bold and adventurous, but that by the time they reached ten years of age they became self-protecting, timid, and fearful. His research led him to believe that this was caused by fear, most of which was as a result of school experiences. He believed that children feared being ridiculed by their teacher and classmates and of having wrong answers to questions asked in school. He thought this trait was made worse by children being forced to study things that they had no interest in. It was his belief that the educational process be made much friendlier for children. He authored many books. His first, published in 1964, was called How Children Fail and it was very controversial. In it he said that he believed children failed academically because of schools, not despite of them. He believed that schools actually short circuited the learning process. His ideas about the educational process got many parents thinking and after some time families started to contact him, telling him that they were schooling their children at home. This started a relationship between him and the families of a budding homeschool movement. He started a newsletter called Growing Without Schooling in 1977 which focused on homeschooling. His philosophy of education is aptly voiced in his statement that “I don’t see homeschooling as some kind of answer to badness of schools. I think that the home is the proper base for the exploration of the world which we call learning or education. Home would be the best base no matter how good the schools were.” He was an advocate for educational reform until his death.

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