“The More Things Change, The More They Remain The Same”

The old cliché still remains true as these two brief videos below of education reformer John Holt demonstrate. While decades old they still forcefully address concerns educators such as myself face every day with our administrators and students. I met Holt about 1973 when he gave a lecture at the University of Tulsa. After his presentation I had the opportunity to discuss with him for some time many of his ideas and concepts regarding schooling and education (not at all synonymous) and to sign my copy of his latest book, Freedom and Beyond.

Over the years I’ve met and discussed these matters with other educational critics such as:

Samuel L. Blumenfeld, author of Is Public Education Necessary?

Sheldon Richman, author of Separating School & State: How to Liberate America’s Families;

and the late Marshall Fritz, chairman, founder, and former president of the Alliance for the Separation of School and State.

The one important person I have not had the opportunity to chat with is the great John Taylor Gatto. 

Here is raw footage of a John Holt interview on the ideas and origins of universal, compulsory government schooling (specifically in Prussia and New England).

Remember the Old Deluder Satan Act of 1647 in the Massachusetts Bay colony was enacted to combat the Puritan notion that “an idle mind is the Devil’s workshop.” Holt’s discussion of how teaching the subject of “English” is a rather new thing is confirmed in Albert Jay Nock’s delicious autobiography, Memoirs of a Superfluous Man, one of the most fortifying books I have ever read. For over forty years Albert Jay Nock has been a decisive and seminal influence in my life and intellectual world-view.

Nock was one of the great critics of Progressive education. His timeless volume, The Theory of Education in the United States, continues to be ever more relevant by each passing day. Nock was a profound champion of the classic Liberal Arts education which served Western Christendom for centuries. Such “education”  as distinct from “training,” is for a very small select elite, and runs counter to conventional educational dogma, from John Dewey to No Child Left Behind, where egalitarian ideology masks as pedagogy.

Here is one of the last interviews with Holt before his death in 1985. Disillusioned with attempts to reform compulsory government schools, Holt was one of the pioneers behind the early Home School movement. He dispels many of the myths concerning homeschooling and the manner children learn in an unregimented, non-compulsory setting.


12:33 pm on October 20, 2014