Patrick Farenga, who worked with John Holt for many years, and who has been an extremely effective homeschool advocate in his own right, has been sharing some wonderful videos of John Holt at his blog, filmed at the first conference by the Family Learning Network in Spokane, Washington, in April, 1984. We were just getting Home Education Magazine off the ground at the time, and as members of the Family Learning Network we were delighted with the opportunity to hear John speak – it’s wonderful that after all these years the videos of that conference are being made available via the Internet!
Pat’s comments are quite interesting, as when he notes on the first video:
I hope this, and future clips, will show John as the quiet, plainspoken but deeply thoughtful man he was. This short segment also shows Holt’s deep empathy with children, a quality that is sorely lacking in all our discussions of education today. John’s analysis of how children struggle with pronouns is radical when you consider how few current day teachers would recommend, as John does, to leave the children alone and let them figure it out for themselves.
Pat writes about the current video:
Besides some good insights into how and why children learn, you can also hear John offer some advice that might seem unlike Holt, namely if you use a quiz or curriculum because it makes you comfortable, then that’s okay because that benefit outweighs philosophical concerns. As John says, “If you worry less your kids will worry less…”
It’s great to see and hear John Holt in these old video clips, and his timeless wisdom about children and learning never goes out of style. Pat writes:
Here are the words that John uses to end this segment; I think they’re worth repeating.
“There is no way to meddle with or speed it up [i.e. the process of children learning—PF] without doing damage to them… I’ve been saying this to the schools for over twenty years and got absolutely nowhere. So I’m saying it to what I take to be a more serious audience, with a stronger commitment to success, namely homeschoolers. I don’t necessarily expect that everyone’s going to walk out of the room thinking that I’m right. But I want you to be sensitive to the kinds of experiences which will confirm this for you. So if you see your kids doing some of these things, you think, “Maybe John is right.” I don’t particularly ask you to take it on faith but I do ask you to do what I did, which is to observe your children learning with these ideas in mind.”
You can watch all three videos currently available at Pat’s blog, for the earlier videos simply click on the link to John Holt Videos at the bottom of the post.