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extendedforecast

Which books by John Holt?

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It's been a long time since I read them, but I remember "How Children Learn" and "How Children Fail" being the ones that I returned to again and again. Be prepared to take your time, disagree with some of the ideas, and put the book away to ponder and digest. I didn't realise quite how much of a schooling mentality I had absorbed over the years; it took me a while to accept an alternative view of education and change my mindset. His views are probably the antithesis of most that you'll see on this forum, but I think there is a lot of value to reading his books. I think the books are especially useful to read when your children are still young and you have the opportunity to make positive changes to how you approach learning.

Edited by stutterfish

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How Children Learn is the first of his books that I read and it truly blew my mind! (I bought it on a whim when my oldest daughter was about 6 months old. I had just left my job as a public high school English teacher to be a SAHM. As a brand-new mom very interested in education, I was reading a ton of parenting books. I bought Holt's book in a bookstore based on the title alone, thinking it was a book more about child development rather than one specifically about education/school systems/etc.) But it is no exaggeration to say that book changed my life. At the time, my plan was to stay home with my child until she was in kindergarten, then return to being a high school English teacher. I was totally committed to and believed in public education and was, in my mind, totally set on being a public school teacher for life. But that book made me question everything; it set me off in an entirely new direction and I spent the following year reading everything I could about education philosophy and homeschooling. (It was during that period that I discovered TWTM, Charlotte Mason, John Taylor Gatto, Montessori, Waldorf, etc., etc....basically, all the alternative teaching philosophies I was never, ever exposed to while earning my college degrees in English and education--funny how they keep that stuff under wraps, right?) But Holt set me on that path of new discovery and it literally changed the course of my life; I would not be homeschooling today if I hadn't encountered that book. (By the time my oldest daughter was 2, my husband and I were certain we would homeschool and haven't looked back. Which is not to say that I'm "against" school now, because I'm not, but my thinking was completely expanded and my allegiance is no longer attached to any particular system or institution; instead, my allegiance belongs to Great Education, know what I mean?) 

 

All that to say, if unschooling is new to you, the book will be eye-opening. And even if you disagree with Holt's views/unschooling, he's still worth reading because doing so will only help you shape your own views on education. So, highly, highly recommend. I also really like How Children Fail, Learning All the Time and Teach Your Own, but all of his books are good.

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I ordered How Children Learn. I was worried that with my youngest being almost seven, I wouldn't get much out of it. I really don't want to read something that's going to fill me with regrets, lol.

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I don't think we ever escape that perpetual mom-guilt over the things we feel we did or didn't do or could have done better;) We can't change what's gone, but it's good to continue to read and learn and find new tools to help us improve our relationships with our kids. Ime, kids are surprisingly resilient and come out ok, however much we think we've messed up. :)

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I ordered How Children Learn. I was worried that with my youngest being almost seven, I wouldn't get much out of it. I really don't want to read something that's going to fill me with regrets, lol.

 

No, no, no! No regrets! See, more than anyone, John Holt would tell you it's never too late to learn something! (He wrote a whole book about that idea, lol.) I firmly believe the best thing you can do to help your kids as a homeschool parent is simply to keep reading, learning, and questioning. (I think Holt is particularly worth that time because his ideas are so bold and because I think he's incredibly misunderstood. I suspect lots of people disregard him without ever actually reading any or all of his works.). The funny thing is that now, almost nothing in our homeschool resembles unschooling, but still, Holt's influence has shaped me tremendously.

 

But I know what you mean about regret; Julie Bogart is someone who has had a huge impact on my worldview and my homeschool, but I only found out she existed about two years ago. Do I wish I had found her sooner? I do! But I found her when I found her and I assimilated her wisdom in ways that make sense to me and have benefitted hugely. Better "late" than never! (And I'm sure there is someone else or some new book I will discover three years from now that I will wish I had found sooner, too, but I can't help that. All I can do is constantly seek!)

 

So, just keep reading and most important of all: decide, in the end, for yourself what your homeschool should look like. No one philosophy is perfect and none of them can guarantee "perfect" outcomes. Good luck!

Edited by EKT

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Based on the ages of my younger two children (6 & 8), would you recommend any of his books?

 

Yes, absolutely. All of them. No matter how old your children are. :-)

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Some of his later works are radical but still make for interesting reading, even if you don't agree with him.

 

How Children Learn and How Children Fail, in that order, are very accessible and thought-provoking.  

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