Instead of Education

Instead of Education

Ways to Help People Do Things Better

Book - 2004 | 1st Sentient Publications ed.
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Synopsis: John Holt, best-selling author of 10 pioneering books on alternative education, is widely credited with launching today's huge and still growing homeschooling movement. His original thinking and clear, thoughtful writing has emboldened countless parents to take the education of their children into their own hands. Instead of Education is Holt's most direct and radical challenge to the educational status quo and a clarion call to parents to save their children from schools of all kinds. In this breakthrough work Holt lays out the foundation for un-schooling as the vital path to self-directed learning and a creative life. It has become common knowledge that our educational system is in dire straights. Children graduate high school without knowing how to read; students are driven to violence by the brutal social climate of school; and with the ever-increasing demand for stricter discipline and higher standardized test scores, teachers have little time to convey their passion for their subject, if indeed any has survived. John Holt also makes the point that schools stifle children's creativity and individuality. In Instead of Education he gives us practical, innovative ideas for changing all that. He suggests creative ways to take advantage of the underused facilities we already have--such as holding classes that people really want on weekdays in churches and on weekends in schools. He gives lots of examples of educational programs that work and of people who self-educate in interesting ways. He describes actual non-compulsory schools, learning centers, and informal learning arrangements in action.
Publisher: Boulder, CO : Sentient Publications, 2004.
Edition: 1st Sentient Publications ed.
ISBN: 9781591810094
Branch Call Number: 370.1 HOLT
Characteristics: xii, 250 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm


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Feb 02, 2018

John Holt was an adult who had the ability to see things from a child's point of view. As such, he understood not just the confusion many children have when trying to learn in a prescribed sequence that suits the "average" child, but also their underlying sense of indignity children have when they are told to do things that don't make sense. For Holt (and for many children), schools are an unnatural place for people to be and it's less a place of learning than it is warehousing. Indeed, what most people learn is going to be that if authority is obeyed people will be rewarded, and if it doesn't they will be punished (and sometimes severely).

While many of Holt's criticisms and observations will ring true 40 years after its publication (apparently people have been trying to reform schools since 1875, and in many of the same ways that they're trying to in 2016), his most incisive criticism is that the biggest lesson schools need to get across is that there are a finite number of winners and therefore many more losers. If you want to win- and don't we all?- you need to play by the rules, however illogical they may seem. At the heart of Holt's message, he wants us to ask why we've agreed to such an arrangement in the first place.

For all of his criticisms of Schools with a capital S, he doesn't object to children or adults learning, or people teaching. He thinks there should be many more places of learning (schools with a small s), but he objects to the idea that they must be compulsory. Let people opt in- and let them agree to whatever behavioral codes come with them- but give them an option to opt out. Until children have that, it's foolish to talk about anyone in the system having a choice.

This is revolutionary stuff, and it's presented as always in Holt's clear, cut-to-the chase style. Recommended for anyone who's looking for an alternative to traditional schooling.


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