John Holt was born on April 14, 1923 in New York City. After serving in the U.S. Navy and working in the World Government movement, John became an educator, teaching at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale Co, the Shady Hills School in Cambridge MA, the Lesley Ellis School in Cambridge MA and the Commonwealth School in Boston MA.
In 1964 he published “How Children Fail”
, followed by “How Children Learn”
in 1967. Both books are considered cornerstones of the unschooling movement. Though Holt’s original goal was to reform the school system, he came to the conclusion that the only way to change the system was one family at a time, and that the best way for children to learn was with as little interference as possible. He coined the term “unschooling”, taking a page from the 7-UP campaign at the time, which referred to the soft drink as the “Un-Cola”. Of school, John said,
“It’s not that I feel that school is a good idea gone wrong, but a wrong idea from the word go. It’s a nutty notion that we can have a place where nothing but learning happens, cut off from the rest of life.”
John Holt died at his home in Boston on September 14, 1985, of cancer.
John Taylor Gatto
John Taylor Gatto was a New York City public school teacher for almost 30 years. In 1990 he was named New York City Teacher of the Year
. In 1991 after being named New York State Teacher of the Year, he wrote an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal titled, “I Quit, I Think”
in which he announced his retirement from teaching because, as he said, he could not go on “hurting children”.
Trained as a school teacher in 1969, Wendy quickly rejected the factory model of processing children and became an early proponent of experience-based, self-directed learning (now called “unschooling” or, as she prefers, “life learning”). She founded The Canadian Alliance of Homeschoolers in 1979 as a national support and advocacy organization that kick-started the homeschooling movement in Canada,
cooperating with John Holt as he breathed life into a parallel movement in America.
Her books include:
Blake Boles is the author of two books (Better Than College and College Without High School), the director of Unschool Adventures, and the founder of Zero Tuition College.In 2003 Blake was studying astrophysics at UC Berkeley when he stumbled upon a treasure trove of books by authors John Taylor Gatto, Grace Llewellyn, John Holt, and other pioneers in the realm of alternative education. Deeply inspired by the philosophies of unschooling and free schooling, Blake custom-designed his final two years of college to study these subjects full-time. After graduating he joined the Not Back to School Camp community and began writing and speaking widely on the subject of self-directed learning.
Blake delivers presentations and workshops on self-directed learning, unschooling, international travel, and entrepreneurship for homeschooling conferences, summer camps, parent groups, and bookstore audiences. He has appeared on TEDx, Ignite, and national radio. He spends much of his time working directly with teens through Not Back to School Camp and his company Unschool Adventures.
Sandra Dodd is a former teacher and longtime unschooling mom from New Mexico whose three children grew up without ever going to school. Sandra has a collection of some of the good parts of discussions from the past fifteen years atSandraDodd.com/unschooling, and writes online every day, especially at the Always Learning yahoo group and her daily inspirational mailing, Just Add Light and Stir.