John Holt (1923-1985) was a renowned teacher and a controversial educational figure who advocated the school reform. His analysis on the concept of homeschooling from various perspectives provides a deeper insight on the beneficial aspects of this idea. It was because of the persuading appeal of his work that it became one of the forces behind the homeschooling movements of 70’s and 80’s. After graduating from his university he served the US Navy for 3 years and after concluding his duty tour he became a part of the UWF( United World Federalists).
Starting from the mailroom, he was able to set his mark at the executive director post after 6 years but resigned because of the ineffectiveness of the company. It was after this history when he was constantly urged by his sister to put his efforts into teaching. Being surrounded by hundreds of young minds, he was able to analyze the bugs in the universal education system that eats up the potential of the students.
Holts’ exceptional works , Escape from childhood: The needs and rights of children, How children learn and How children fail, were a reflection of his rigid belief in the idea of homeschooling. His article in the Nature Child Project emulates the same believes. In his article John Holt has been able to persuade the readers about the beneficial aspects of the concept of homeschooling while giving a detailed evaluation of the constitutional flaws of the universal education system and the necessary role of the parents in enhancing the potential of their kid.
However the writer loses the interest of the readers with his biased opinion on the structure of the universal education system where he has tried to persuade the audience with an emotional impact instead of presenting a logical reasoning to support his claims, makes the audience question the credibility of the text. The compulsory universal education system in the constitution does not only breakdown the developing potential of the kids but also takes away their right of curiosity factor which gives them the freedom to learn and explore.
Giving full liberty of choice does not mean that the parent’s opinion loses its worth, but, their efforts should be to provide an organized pathway to their kids so that they can lead the way with their own choices with a better perspective. Further he sheds light on the structure of the education system which exploits the ethical and emotional values of everyone involved. The necessity of performing to survive amongst the immense competition leads to each person, whether the student or the authority itself, dragging down others to get at the top.
The writer carries a persuasive approach to attract and convince the audience, portraying an advantageous image of homeschooling. With his constant attack on the universal education methodology from fundamental perspective and his comments on the immoral viruses induced in the students by the structure of this education system, he is trying to highlight the audience with the necessity of homeschooling.
An idea which carries a more widened approach towards learning and boosting the potential skills of the students, keeping them safe of the social isolation and the unethical morals on which the universal education system works. Highlighting the concept of universal education and the issues concerned to it, the writer has narrowed down the subject to those countries which works on this system. Though his approach to highlight the psychological aspect and the issue concerned to the development of social and ethical practices of a student are shared by all.
So whilst keeping under discussion the bugs of the American Universal Education system, he has broadened the discussion to a globalised audience and highlighted the issues faced by all encompassing. Holt has given an organized structure to the content of the text. Starting with an explanation of the subject matter, he has engaged the audience to the topic under discussion and then he has pinned down the questions of the audience concerned to the topic by giving legitimate facts to support his claims.
After which he gives an insight to the flaws of the universal education system which further supports his stand on the subject matter. He has tried explaining each issue using a popular style of writing, so that the text can be enjoyed by a broader audience and they can develop a clear understanding of the subject matter in the text. The uniform transition of the text has made it easier for the audience to link the following point to the one before it, and develop a clear understanding of the issues highlighted as each point being discussed is clarifying the point discussed before it.
With his utter focus on the topic, he has not distracted from the main issue on a single instance. This helps the audience to develop a clear understanding of the issues he has put forth. Carrying a serious, straightforward tone and his mastery over sarcasm he has been able to depict the true image of the universal education system . His use of sarcasm on various instances in the article plays a pivotal role in helping the reader identify the reality juxtaposed against the false picture of universal education portrayed by the authorities.
For example when he states ,” They thought it was enough to guarantee citizens the freedom of speech and the freedom to spread their ideas….. it did not occur to them that even the most tyrannical government would try to control people’s mind”( Holt 1) This captures the interest of the readers and explains the fundamental issue of constitutional flaw concerned to education policy , which is designed in such a way that it restricts the freedom of thought and learning of the kid.
On another instance he states,” It only means that if their natural authority is not strong enough parents can’t call in the cops to make the child do what they are not able to persuade him to do. ” (Holt 2) Here he effectively conveys his disapproval of the hardships that the kid has to face if he/she resists the structured plan of the authorities, with that enlightening the necessity of the positive response of the parents in shaping their child’s potential.
It is the attitude they carry towards their child’s potential and his field of interest, that they can either make their child or break their child. Along with sarcasm the writer makes effective use of a serious and straightforward tone to convey his thoughts on the significance of the fundamental rights which are snatched away from the students by the constitution itself , saying, “No human right except the right to life itself is more fundamental than this. (Holt 1) Further to illuminate the reader about the unethical values that are induced in us by the structure of the educational system the writer says, ” In most schools, a student is every minute doing what others tell him, subject to their judgment, in situations in which he can only win at the expense of the others. ” (Holt 3) On this occasion he evokes the threat to ethical and emotional values of the student body that the educational system imposes.
Having said that, the writer loses the credibility of his work when he starts generalizing his opinion on a few cases and making biased assumptions while commenting on the parenting concerned questions raised by the people, when he states, ” the questioner assumes and implies (though rarely says) that these bad parents are people poorer and less schooled than him. “( Holt 2) He has narrowed his response to just the poor without even being sure whether the question implies to the poor or it may be applicable to everyone.
He makes strong allegations against the education system when he claims ,” schools seem to me among the most democratic, most authoritarian, most destructive and most dangerous institutions of the modern society. ” (Holt 3) The absence of logical explanation to support such allegations makes the audience believe the writer is trying to put shadow on the lack of weight in his claims, by using an unnecessary emotional impact. Despite his biased assumptions and the fact that the writer has not been able to provide a logical reasoning while stating his views concerned to the social and unethical impact of the education system.
His detailed explanations and a series of empirical analysis of his facts on the issues concerned to the fundamental perspective and necessity of parent’s role is commendable and many can relate to it. Therefore in this context the writer has been able to attract the readers to his opinion, as the credibility of the text carries a greater weight compared to its flaws. Although Pakistani society does not share the universal education concept, the issues brought forth by Holt concerning to academic, ethical and social development are shared by global student body.
Questions concerning the duty of parents on this subject, the exploitation of ethics and freedom of learning by the authorities has become a concern for people students of Pakistani society too. The way the education system is shaped restricts the students to follow a structured plan, against their wills, to fit in the society. Lack of exposure to versatile fields of work has turned the students in to robots who are manufactured for a specific function and are dumped if not workable.
A student with a sheer creative talent would be forced to become an engineer to “fit in” because of the lack of choices and resources to enhance his skills. As John Holt sheds light on the substantial duty of the parents concerned to their child , it cannot be ignored that parents are burdened with a certain responsibility to provide their child with the ideal resources, preparing them to tackle the hardships of a practical life. John Holt on the other hand was never married nor had any children. He does not share this concern and might not be able to get an insight on their perspective.
Though his claim, that the positive attitude of the parent’s can boost their child’s potential, is supported by the quoted work of educational expertise in Chris Klicka’s article , Socialization: Homeschoolers are in the real world. Dr Larry Shyers after doing an empirical analysis on the subject matters concluded , ” home-schooled children behave better because they tend to imitate their parents” (Klicka 1) Questions are raised regarding the socializing skills and maturity of the homeschooled students.
The Psychological tests and their evaluation by the authorities in Chris Klicka’s article, ” Socialization: homeschoolers are in real world, speak a different language on this concept. The widened exposure to the people of different age group and distinctive backgrounds enhances their communication skills. This concept was authorized by a respected psychologist, John Wesley Taylor. He tested the social skills of 224 children and summed up the experimental response stating ,” The study found that 50 percent of the children scored above the 90th percentile, and only 10. percent scored below the national average. ” (Klicka 1)
Smedley, an authority in the field of psychology, doing an experimental evaluation on this issue concluded ,” the results demonstrated that the home-schooled children were better socialized and more mature than the children in the public school. The home-schooled children scored in the 84th percentile while the matched sample of public school children only scored in the 27th percentile. ” (klicka 1)This study further answers the concerning questions of the audience relating to the development and learning skills.
With a liberty to pursue the work which they want to, homeschooled holds a more focused perspective which enhances their learning. They tend to perform better than the students of the universal education system, on the SAT’s and other tests which evaluates the learning skills of the students. Chris Klicka, Senior Counsel for the Home School Legal Defense Association, states in his article, “Home school families, as a whole, do not raise their children in social isolation. “( Klicka 1) which provides a supporting base to Holt’s claim on the social isolation faced by the students of the education system.
Even with all logical evidence and legitimate explanation supporting Holt’s claim this ideology cannot be generalized to everyone. There are kids who would prefer to go to the school and enjoy an exposure to that environment willfully. Many scholars agree that cognitive development should not be pushed and that uniformity is provided by the organized educational system, which has reformed some of its structures to deal with the bugs that Holt’s has stated. The transition in the educational structure to tackle the bugs of the educational system is pretty evident .
The perfection of the vast curriculum and academic facilities provided by the educational centers which induces an atmosphere of healthy competition and helps in shaping the potential skills of the students providing them with a better perspective. The concerns raised by John Holt about the education system are valid and there is no doubt that many people can relate to them, but, this should not let the audience ignore the voice of those who contradict with his views. Many scholars agree that the educational system should be reformed in such a way that these two contradicting views are imbued together.
The education system is in sheer need of reformation and still has to deal with most of the concerns raised by John Holt, but, that does not mean students should not be given an exposure to this experience. As years have passed the platform to perform and interact with people of diverse backgrounds, provided by the educational institutes, has broadened. In conclusion, this would not just help in giving a reformed structure to the concept of learning but when exposed to the positive aspects of both the structures student can enjoy the perks of both.
Courtney from Study Moose
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