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Instead of Education: Ways to Help People Do Things Better: Way to Help People Do Things Better
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Instead of Education: Ways to Help People Do Things Better: Way to Help People Do Things Better

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  451 ratings  ·  30 reviews
It has become common knowledge that our educational system is in dire straights. Children graduate high school without knowing how to read while students are driven to violence by the brutal social climate of school. In Instead of Education John Holt gives us practical, innovative ideas for changing all that. He suggests creative ways to take advantage of the underused fac ...more
Kindle Edition, 268 pages
Published October 1st 2003 by Sentient Publications (first published May 1st 1977)
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Sep 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From the guy who kicked off the homeschooling movement in the united states - not attached to Christianity, but to free kids from the pursuit of achievement, which he equates with Education. John Holt tells us that Education prepares students for a restricted life, constrained by the everlasting failing to pursue one's curiosity and develop a holistic being.

This is a well-written and concise treatment of the Education system from an unschooling perspective. Not much has changed since he wrote i
Susan Olesen
Apr 07, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure where to start about how short-sighted, bigoted, and damaging this book is.

Let me say two things first off: 1) I am not opposed to quality homeschooling. I came very, very close to pulling two of my kids out of school and teaching them at home. I fought hard to get a third one into a specialized school, and won. 2) I am not a fan of the current trends in public schools, and the Almighty Test curriculum, for it fails every student every time.

That said, this author is both right, and
Sep 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: educators, teachers, parents
Recommended to Milloum by: parents wondering whether to put their 5-year old daughter at school... or not
Very radical. A 100 years back in Europe, and to this day in many parts of the world, compulsory schooling was social progress; but now, Holt says, school as we know it has to be wiped out.

Reading this book, if nothing else, revealed how many preconceived ideas I had harboured about education. I laughed out at my stupidity when reading John Holt explaining that "learning" and "doing stuff" are not in fact different processes, the one taking place at school, the other, outside... How much more ob
Justin Podur
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: how-to, education
John Holt's approach to education, teaching, and learning has been a major influence in my life. What Holt brings to the table is an optimism about people's ability to learn. You don't really need to do anything to get people to learn, especially children, who are incredibly efficient learning machines. But the way our bureaucratic, credential-driven, behaviourist education systems work is to stifle the learning instinct. Holt works this basic message throughout all his books, but this one was o ...more
Oct 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is vintage John Holt, who is considered by many to be the father of the homeschooling movement. Written in the seventies, his criticism of the public education system is apropos and prescient. Thirty years ago Holt proposed that school reform was not possible, that the whole system needed to be scrapped. He offered many alternative ways for children to pursue learning and self-education instead of the environment of compulsory schools whose social function is "ranking....grading and labelin ...more
Jan 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I imagine this is and will be one of the most important books I've read for my son's sake. Brilliantly succinct and on point. I love it and recommend literally everyone read it. :P
Laura Rogers
Another one of my favorites from one of my favorite authors - so just read it and take it in.
If you have children, this book is a must read.
Sep 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am really enjoying all of Holt's books. His premise, as I understand it, is that humans are born with an innate curiousity to learn and understand the world around them. Regarding public school here is my favorite quote from this book. “Meanwhile, education-compulsory schooling, compulsory learning-is a tyranny and a crime against the human mind and spirit. Let all those escape it who can, any way they can.” John Holt. Pretty much sums it up. Read it if you are curious about a new path for edu ...more
Zag Abdulrahman

We don't see someone who has been home-schooled, advocating homeschooling, do we?

How perplexing it is, to be who you are as "compulsory Schooled". Nonetheless, you advocate homeschooling!

Dena Guzman
Aug 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I give the concept and content five stars, six, seven, eight, nine. Shoot me for this, but I find John Holt's writing itself to be slightly dry and thick. However, he's the Father of Homeschool and I think this should be required reading for all parents.
This is a wonderful book; I don't know if I'd go quite as far as Holt does in his scathing appraisal of compulsory schooling--but I'd go pretty far, and his book is a cogent, lucid, and jargon-free explanation of why.

Oct 07, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: partly-read
I've been trying to find the right word for this: tirade, polemic, and diatribe aren't right because he's outlining the ideas for something rather than against. Still, it very much carries that feel. He provides no evidence or even supporting arguments for his views. While I agree with some of his ideas, I don't think anyone who disagreed with him would find his writing persuasive.
Grant Black
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An old book so some of the ideas are old, but the ideas about doing what you are interested in instead of forcing a child to learn something they never wanted to learn and giving them a grade that tells them you are bad at this stands the test of time.

Melodie Good
Dec 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Sometimes learning happens outside the classroom. This book reaffirms that children learn best when they are engaged in hands-on learning from people in their community. Definitely reminds us that we all have gifts to share.
Jonna Higgins-Freese
The father of homeschooling and unschooling, Holt argues that people are natural learners and explorers, and that formal S-chooling kills that process through overemphasis on testing and credentials.

His analysis was interesting, but his solutions weren't compelling to me. While he talks about children and the need to avoid compulsory schooling, most of his solution examples relate to *adult* learning. Clearly he thinks that adults should have more ability to supervise their children, that it's
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This took me a while to finish but there are a lot of great ideas I'm here. Definitely solidified my decision to not send my son to traditional school.
I bought into the first half of the book--Do-ers, learning is easier when there's interest and choice in the learner, doing something and learning to do it really aren't two different processes. Great.
The second half--or the final third, perhaps--he lost me. Some of his solutions to getting kids out of compulsory schooling are not well thought out at all. For example: The students could take competency tests to move up a grade instead of having to sit in a classroom for the year. Well, who write
Myrrie Bloxham
Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book after haveing been a homeschooler for 20+ years. So, I had been to conventions and heard a lot about him being the father of the homeschool movement. Ironically, I had to read books from a list given me at an online college where I am now studying to complete my BAES degree, Bachelor of Arts, Edu. studies. After 3.5 years of taking public school teacher classes, it seemed quite radical at first, but I really got into the real-life, hands-on, success and student-led cases. In fac ...more
Mar 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
So, overall, I really enjoyed this book. His distinction of S-chools and s-chools was hard to read. I get what he meant by the distinction, and appreciate it, I just found the mechanism (the 'S-' and 's-') awkward. A few of the chapters were a little dry, but I think that had to do with the subject matter more than his commentary or writing style. However, chapter 10 (On Human Nature) was awesome, and chapter 13 (What S-chools Are For) kind of blew my mind. And really, really pissed me off. Whic ...more
May 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great resource, full of wonderful things to think about in regards to how to truly educate children. Many, many examples and research and observations and also practical advice and application. I want to read his other books now as we'll as many of the ones he referenced. This book solidifies the idea that compulsory schooling is NOT a good thing, but still ways to deal with it. Loved it.
Jan 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My opinion on this book is a bit mixed. He had some interesting ideas, and a few chapters in my copy are now heavily marked bc of concepts he pointed out that I found fascinating and hadn't thought of before. Other parts were a bit overly dramatic or radical, even for me. ; ) Still, interesting and thought-provoking as a whole.
Dec 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little dated (predates the homeschool movement which addresses many but not all of his concerns, depending on the implementation) and a little liberal/hippy for my tastes but an interesting look at the problems of compulsatory education as opposed to voluntary education (where both the student and the teacher have the optionality of ending the contract: like karate lessons for instance)
Emily Mellow
I don't know, this book seems redundant. I love John Holt, but I guess I just don't need more convincing.
I hate to give it a low rating because maybe it will be the book that turns things around for someone else, so I'll leave it unrated- but it's a boring read for those of us already unschooling.
Elizabeth Lund
As someone who's already read everything else Holt has written, I don't know that there's anything revolutionary here. I think Escape from Childhood and Freedom and Beyond had more new ideas and were more comprehensive. However, certainly worth a read.
Kind of funny how he bounced from good info to statistics to passionate argument to tips for teaching randomly interspersed. This is an excellent read, especially for homeschoolers. It's a book now highlighted and written all over and one I'll return to often.
Feb 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Expanding my knowledge of what "education" is, or what it can be, this book as proved as a inspiration source for the idea's and writings come forth since uncovering the "unschooling" way of life. I will read this book again.
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education, political
Radical, in the best sense of the word. If you think that our schools are failing, you need to read this. Because they’re not failing: they’re doing what they’re designed to do and what they’re designed to do is not necessarily in the best interest of our children. Highly recommended.
Inhabiting Books
This one didn't hold my interest.
Feb 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
john holt is great, but for some reason I never got through the entire book.
jessicamax stein
taught essay from it, "the myth of learning," repeatedly in freshman english
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Instead of Education: Ways to Help People Do Things Better 1 2 Sep 07, 2017 10:02AM  
Education 2 21 Dec 06, 2008 10:45PM  
  • Guerrilla Learning: How to Give Your Kids a Real Education With or Without School
  • The Unschooling Unmanual
  • The Underground History of American Education: An Intimate Investigation Into the Prison of Modern Schooling
  • And the Skylark Sings with Me
  • The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World as Your Child's Classroom
  • Deschooling Our Lives
  • Homeschooling Our Children Unschooling Ourselves
  • Parenting a Free Child: An Unschooled Life
  • Deschooling Society
  • The Unprocessed Child: Living Without School
  • Free Range Learning How Homeschooling Changes Everything
  • Unschooling Rules: 55 Ways to Unlearn What We Know about Schools and Rediscover Education
  • Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense
  • The Schools Our Children Deserve: Moving Beyond Traditional Classrooms and "Tougher Standards"
  • The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook
  • Homeschooling for Excellence
  • The Unschooled Mind: How Children Think and How Schools Should Teach
  • Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life
After teaching in private schools for many years John Caldwell Holt wrote his first two books, How Children Fail, and How Children Learn. He became a vocal advocate for school reforms, and wrote several more books about education theory and practice, including alternative forms and many social issues relating to the education system. Eventually he decided school reform was impossible, and changed ...more
“A life worth living, and work worth doing - that is what I want for children (and all people), not just, or not even, something called 'a better education.” 12 likes
“Much of what we call History is the success stories of madmen.” 11 likes
More quotes…