Homeschooling and Libraries

Things I'm thinking about and learning while working with homeschoolers and writing Helping Homeschoolers in the Library for ALA Editions.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Reading John Holt

“For it seems to me a fact that, in our struggle to make sense out of life, the things we most need to learn are the things we most want to learn. To put this another way, curiosity is hardly ever idle.”
-John Holt in How Children Learn

I’m doing a lot of reading for my chapter on unschooling right now and am currently buried in big piles of John Holt.

From his writings, Holt seems like he must have been one of those people who was wacky in the best of all possible ways. Reading words he wrote decades ago, I find myself completely engaged. His depictions of how children deal with boredom in school in How Children Fail are so true to my experience, and I know that I learn in many of the ways he describes in How Children Learn. It’s funny because, as a child, I loved going to school and was an extremely successful student, especially as I got older, but I often marvel at how much I wasn’t learning while earning straight A’s. And I also know that the things I loved most about school were things like my friends, drama club, chorus, and working in the bookstore. I was lucky enough to be in a school where I felt like I had a lot of freedom to pursue my interests and where my strengths were recognized and encouraged. I don’t think unschooling is the only answer to kids who are bored and not learning, but it’s a good answer. I wish more people were reading John Holt.

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