“Helping children learn and explore in the world is best seen as a branch of natural science, like trying to raise exotic plants or little-known animals.”

John Holt | Learning All the time


Dedicated to Self-Directed Education and
Learning in the Flow of Life

New for 2019!  GWS Vol. 3,  in print and digital media.

New for 2019! GWS Vol. 3, in print and digital media.

Stories and reflections about John Holt’s life and thought from people who knew him well.

Stories and reflections about John Holt’s life and thought from people who knew him well.

50th anniversary edition.  Read more about it.

50th anniversary edition. Read more about it.

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Pat Farenga's Blog

John Holt

Growing Without Schooling

Our Story

After decades of work as a classroom teacher and school reformer John Holt decided that schooling was not the same as education. His first books, How Children Fail and How Children Learn, have been in print for 50 years and his revisions to them reflect his deep thinking about how self-directed education can work for all people.

After writing Instead of Education: Ways to Help People Do Things Better, John Holt learned about homeschooling and decided to support it by publishing his networking newsletter, Growing Without Schooling (GWS), in 1977.

Holt's Teach Your Own: A Hopeful Path for Education was published in 1981 and it marked Holt's complete departure from the world of school to the uncharted territory he named unschool. That book's ideas and stories—many taken from the pages of GWS—about a variety of families who enjoy living and learning with their children at home and in their communities prompted Holt's appearances on TV, radio, and print. Subscriptions grew and homeschooling edged its way into the public discussion about education reform.

Holt's controversial position as a progressive school reformer in the 1960s changed to that of social reformer in the 1970s—Holt insisted that laws and customs that prevent children and families from learning in the real world should be challenged and that school should be viewed as a convivial learning resource, like a library, rather than a compulsory treatment clinic.

A practical philosopher, Holt put his words into action in ways that spurred parents, teachers, and children to support learning without the school apparatus that defines, controls, and predicts learning outcomes.

Holt died in 1985 and Patrick Farenga and his colleagues carried on Holt's work for another 16 years, publishing Growing Without Schooling magazine until 2001. Farenga continues to popularize Holt's work through this site, public speaking, articles, and books to help create and understand the huge number of ways that people live and learn throughout their lives without going to school.

Unschooling and Homeschooling

If you want to do school at home, there are many sites, books, and people who will tell you what, when, and where to learn but this isn't the place for that. I will, of course, help you learn what is expected if you want to compare your children to certain school milestones. But homeschooling doesn't have to duplicate school in any way in order to achieve those milestones, or for children to learn, grow, and thrive overall, and I want to put most of my efforts in support of the small, but growing, number of people and resources that support self-directed education for families and school-age children everywhere.