Posts in School reform
My Friend, John Gatto

John Taylor Gatto, a famous schoolteacher and author, died last week. I knew him first as a writer and ally of unschooling, and eventually got to know him as a friend. John Gatto passed away on Oct. 25, 2018, and I want to share some of my memories of him. I took this photo of John in a dressing room at Carnegie Hall before he took the stage for his event, The Exhausted School.

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John Holt on Violence and the Democratic National Convention of 1968

August 28, 2018, is the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Though not present, John Holt supported the students and was highly critical of the police. John adds some thoughtful commentary and advice about being careful not to turn just anger into blind hate in this previously unpublished piece.

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Education Should be More Than Money and Good Grades for Some

Today’s vision of education isn’t about morals, citizenship, personal development, or social cohesion: it’s about sorting the winners and losers in a race for jobs. Here are more life-affirming visions of education than social Darwinism.

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Elders Impugn The Young After Gun Massacre

After news of the Parkland gun massacre came out, “Jack Kingston, a former United States representative from Georgia and a regular CNN commentator, asked, “Do we really think—and I say this sincerely—do we really think 17-year-olds on their own are going to plan a nationwide rally?” Why can’t we just support and encourage these young people in their single, clear goal of banning assault weapons instead of assimilating their effort into the conventional, adult-driven, conservative/liberal battle narrative?

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Self-Directed Education and Late Bloomers

It seems that every discussion about education assumes the primary goal of lower educational institutions is to get people into higher educational institutions. But there are better ways of thinking of one’s learning besides as a means to get a checkbox ticked on an application—after all, learning never stops, it ebbs and flows in intensity over your life . . .

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Freedom and Beyond

Holt's most political book, Freedom and Beyond is also a very practical and useful book for parents and anyone who works with children because it explores in detail many of the tensions caused by giving freedom. Partners who argue over the value of self-directed learning, who worry about discipline, and so on will find that Holt presents both sides of these tensions and notes they will never go away . . .

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Our School Choice Is None

Now, there’s no doubt that homeschooling is a choice, but for me and other homeschoolers I know, it was not a choice of schools, it was a choice for our family to avoid the rat race of school: its busy work and pressure for labels, grades, class status, and homework. Our choice was not to go to school and to not turn our home into a school—and that’s a choice I never read about in the school choice literature . . .

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How We See Self-Directed Education

"Informal or spontaneous learning is often far more effective than formal learning." If you agree with this position, please share this video with your friends and let us know your thoughts, or join the Alliance: http://www.self-directed.org

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You Do Not Need a PhD to Look at a Child and to Think About What He is Doing

From John Holt's reply to Dr. Jerome Bruner's letter to the NY Review of Books: "The proper business of the intellectual is to make complicated ideas more simple, not simple ideas more complicated; to make the real world more comprehensible, not less so." Read more about this sharp exchange . . .

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Education Disruptors on Two Continents: Shilpa and Manish Jain

Shilpa and Manish Jain are grassroots education activists located in the United States and India, respectively. This spring each is putting on a unique event that approaches vast educational change at a personal, empowering level . . .

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Don't Follow the Crowd: Let Teens Sleep Late

People may criticize you for it, but strong evidence continues to emerge that letting your teenager sleep late and do their tasks and learning when they're well rested is a biologically and educationally sound practice. The problem is, school schedules and adult expectations undermine people who want to do this—unless you are homeschooling!

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Escaping the Education Caste System

Some Indian parents help their children cheat on exams to get ahead, and treat children harshly to make them study, in what they perceive as a dog-eat-dog world of education. Is conventional schooling the only way to help people learn and grow into good citizens?

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