A free John Holt book Escape From Childhood: The Needs And Rights Of Children is available for download on Pat Farenga’s site.
This Kindle book is only available until midnight tonight.
No human right, except the right to life itself, is more fundamental than this. A person’s freedom of learning is part of his freedom of thought, even more basic than his freedom of speech. If we take form someone his right to decide what he will be curious about, we destroy his freedom of thought. We say, in effect, you must think not about what interests and concerns you, but about what interests and concerns us.
We might call this the right of curiosity, the right to ask whatever questions are most important to us. As adults, we assume that we have the right to decide what does or does not interest us, what we will look into and what we will leave alone. We take this right largely for granted, cannot imagine that it might be taken away from us. Indeed, as far as I know, it has never been written into any body of law. even the writers of our Constitution did not mention it. They thought it was enough to guarantee citizens the freedom of speech and the freedom to spread their ideas as widely as they wished and could. it did not occur to them that even the most tyrannical government would try to control people’s minds, what they thought and knew. That idea would come later, under the benevolent guise of compulsory universal education.