John Holt

(1923 - 1985) American Educator



Author, Educator

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Children; Education; Learning


United States, Boston


Books by John Holt 


Books by John Holt 


John Holt

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John Holt 



John Holt was born in New York City in 1923 and died in 1985. He was a teacher and taught at schools in Colorado and then Massachusetts where he was a visiting lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Education.

He was also an author of many books on learning. During the war he served in the US Navy and afterwards worked in various parts of the world government movement.

He finally became the Executive Director of the New York State branch of the United World Federalists and published a magazine called "Growing without schooling." to help parents who taught their kids at home.

He was also a dedicated Cellist. He is known particularly for his works: "How children Fail.", "Freedom and Beyond" and "Escape from Childhood."

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Blog Post
  Thoughts on Schooling
Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 26 May 2004

  How Children Fail (1964) by John Holt

  How Children Learn (1967) by John Holt

  Ivan Illich (1926 - 2002)

  John Holt (1923 - 1985) American Educator

  On children and learning by John Holt (1923 - 1985) American Educator

  On teachers and delusion by John Holt (1923 - 1985) American Educator

  On the curious child by John Holt (1923 - 1985) American Educator

  On trying to force a child by John Holt (1923 - 1985) American Educator

Quotations from John Holt:

 Children do not need to be made to learn to be better, told what to do or shown how.

If they are given access to enough of the world, they will see clearly enough what things are truly important to themselves and to others, and they will make for themselves a better path into that world than anyone else could make for them.

John Holt, (1923 - 1985) American Educator
How Children Fail

 We teachers - perhaps all human beings - are in the grip of an astonishing delusion. We think that we can take a picture, a structure, a working model of something, constructed in our minds out of long experience and familiarity, and by turning that model into a string of words, transplant it whole into the mind of someone else.

Perhaps once in a thousand times, when the explanation is extraordinary good, and the listener extraordinary experienced and skillful at turning word strings into non-verbal reality, and when the explainer and listener share in common many of the experiences being talked about, the process may work, and some real meaning may be communicated.

Most of the time, explaining does not increase understanding, and may even lessen it.

John Holt, (1923 - 1985) American Educator
How Children Learn

 The child is curious. He wants to make sense out of things, find out how things work, gain competence and control over himself and his environment, and do what he can see other people doing. He is open, perceptive, and experimental. He does not merely observe the world around him, He does not shut himself off from the strange, complicated world around him, but tastes it, touches it, hefts it, bends it, breaks it. To find out how reality works, he works on it. He is bold. He is not afraid of making mistakes. And he is patient. He can tolerate an extraordinary amount of uncertainty, confusion, ignorance, and suspense ... School is not a place that gives much time, or opportunity, or reward, for this kind of thinking and learning.

John Holt, (1923 - 1985) American Educator
How Children Learn

 If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him.

John Holt, (1923 - 1985) American Educator
How Children Learn

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café or the role of conversation in organizational life then you my be interested in this online book I am writing on Conversational Leadership
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