John HoltJohn Holt, (1923-1985) American author and educator, proponent of homeschooling, and pioneer in youth rights theory

John Holt Quote

“Education... now seems to me perhaps the most authoritarian and dangerous of all the social inventions of mankind. It is the deepest foundation of the modern slave state, in which most people feel themselves to be nothing but producers, consumers, spectators, and 'fans,' driven more and more, in all parts of their lives, by greed, envy, and fear. My concern is not to improve 'education' but to do away with it, to end the ugly and antihuman business of people-shaping and to allow and help people to shape themselves.”

John HoltJohn Holt
~ John Holt

Holt, J. (1967). How Children Learn. New York: Pitman Publishing Corporation

Ratings and Comments

Mike, Norwalk

Not exactly sure what comment would be most apropos - just a whole lot of truth there on lots of levels and on as many subjects.

jim k, Austin, Tx

I believe that this man was once the teacher of the year in New York. He should knowwhat he's talking about.

E Archer, NYC

Absolutely. "People-shaping" indeed. Get the federal government out of the business of 'educating' us -- it is not their proper jurisdiction. Washington need not provide us teachers and police -- that is the job of counties and states.

Jim K, Austin

Twain said,"Don't let schooling get in the way of your education".

Robert, Somewhere in the USA

Living in isolation of each other, especially children who are highly receptive to parental behavior, can be dangerous. It's like not getting muddy so you remain clean and in the process being highly receptive to germs - it applies to the mind also. What makes this nonsense is the effrontery of those who have the knowledge to teach their children, to foster this on all children. The vast majority of parents have not a clue how to educate their children, that alone the moral, ethical, and reasoning elements of education. If you have Plato or Aristotle as your parents then it's a different matter.

E Archer, NYC

Robert, you are merely attempting to substitute one dogma for another. Why are "children who are highly receptive to parental behavior" considered to be the problem unless you are using the school to change the culture of the family altogether? Your argument is EXACTLY the same as that of the religionists, with the exception that YOU do not consider yourself in disharmony. You didn't like being judged for being gay, and atheism would be a natural reaction -- and you have fought not only to be accepted as is, but INSIST on acceptance by coercion (mandatory education by the state). It's to the point now that some poor kids don't know what sex they are -- and encouraged to ignore their own genitals while in the pursuit of the question "who am I and why am I here?" Truth is no more valued in secular/government schools than in the religious schools.

Whether you realize it or not, Robert, children learn the majority of everything from their family circle. You don't have to be a Plato or Aristotle to raise smart children -- after all, Plato or Aristotle are NOT teaching at the public school either -- that is the point!! I'm sorry, Robert, but my public school 2nd grade teacher was DUMB and spent most of her time dealing with unruly kids bused in from the projects. Government-run anything is more akin to raising beasts of burden than self-determined responsible people. Being a white child, I was blamed for every hardship of the poor blacks on the other side of town. I hadn't realized how much I had been part of the problem (I was only 8 years old). What a mind f@ck... Thankfully I did have a family that was productive, liked to read and travel, and was able to put it all in context.

Robert must have had a pretty bad childhood to prefer institutionalism to family. You talk of love and peace being the key to education, I can only assume you did not find that at home. For that, my heart goes out to you.

Robert, Somewhere in the USA

Archer, again, as always your retort is excellent, even though I disagree. I went to a religious public boarding school and in the UK that means private, and went to chapel every morning. I loved my days as a child in the west country (UK); I did most of my education in the library. My friends from the public school system were my best friends, they had guts, and were honest to the tee. I played football with them and had a few pints - it's a time I reflected on with great memories. When children learn in a vacuum they usually remain in a vacuum without the skill of thinking out of the box. I very much appreciate your commentary and understand where you are coming from, but my experience tells me otherwise. Lastly, try being a gay kid in private schools - there is a heart in the children of public schools that you are obviously unaware of.
The underdog is usually protected from the bullies - I know this from the stories I am told by those who were brought up in the public system. I have never been concerned about being judged; I have never been concerned what others think of me - perhaps it was my upbringing and the fact my parents NEVER abused or shouted at me! Anyway, keep the good thoughts, going as their ripples create waves - iechyd da....

E Archer, NYC

Thank you, Robert, for the personal history. Sounds like you had it pretty good and have always had a heart for the commoner who hasn't. Your eloquence and communication has always been a sign to me that you had smart and supportive parents -- in the Aristotle/Plato category no doubt. I think you would have made a good parent, too. And as a good friend once told me there was never a stronger believer in God than an avowed atheist. ;-) Cheers!


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