ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Who Is John Holt?

Updated on March 23, 2011

Who Is John Holt

John Holt: Founder Of Unschooling

John Holt is the "founder" of unschooling. In order to understand what unschooling is, it is important to take a closer look at just who John Holt is.

John Holt's Biography

Upon graduation from college John Holt entered into the United States Navy where he served on the USS Barbero, which was a submarine that fought in the Pacific Ocean. While serving in the Navy he concluded that nuclear weapons were the world's biggest danger and that they could only be prevented by the governments around the world.

After completing his 3 year tour of duty, John Holt started working in the mail room of the United World Federalists. This is an organization that promotes nations working together toward world peace. He eventually worked his way up to become New York's executive director but he soon grew frustrated with just how ineffective the group was and thus he resigned in 1952.

At this time his sister urged him to become a fifth grade teacher. John Holt spent several years as a teacher in Colorado before moving to Boston. In Boston John Holt met a fellow teacher by the name of Bill Hull. Together they began doing a classroom observation project. While one of them would teach, the other would observe.

During John Holt's first 11 years of teaching he accumulated a lot of notes that he has used to create the core of his 2 popular books: "How Children Fail" and "How Children Learn." He has also written a book that is not as popular as these 2. It is called "Escape from Childhood: The Rights and Needs of Children." Together these 3 books provide details about John Holt's educational philosophy.

John Holt And Unschooling

After spending several years within the school system, John Holt grew disillusioned as he believed that the school system was flawed and that there was no way in which to reform it. This led him to become a big proponent for homeschooling. However, he did not believe that the school system should be reinvented within the home.

John Holt believed that the main reason why children did not learn in school was because they were afraid of giving the wrong answer, afraid of being mocked and afraid of not measuring up or being good enough. He maintained that this was only worsened whenever these children were forced to learn about things that they were not interested in. This is where his belief that children do not need to be coerced into learning stems from. John Holt truly believed that children would learn naturally if we would just give them the freedom to explore their interests. Of course, we also need to provide them with a rich environment that is filled with resources that will help them to learn and grow. Hence, the creation of unschooling.

In 1977 John Holt acted upon his belief by starting the first homeschooling magazine, which was entitled "Growing Without Schooling," and opening his own book store. Throughout time, John Holt used his magazine to form the ground work for what is now known as the Youth rights movement. This included eliminating the voting age, allowing youth to sign contracts and thus be able to become employed.

The Effects Of John Holt

Besides laying the ground work for the Youth rights movement, John Holt's writing has influenced thousands of other organizations. Some of these organizations include: Summerhill School, The Evergreen State College, National Youth Rights Association and The Freechild Project.

Thousands of individuals have also been influenced by the writings of John Holt. His 10 books continue to be popular even today, long after his death in 1985 at the age of 62. This is because these books have formed the basis of today's unschooling movement.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      great information!

    • profile image

      noor hayati abdul hamid 

      8 years ago

      I feel I have more energy and enthusiasm after reading of john holt's works and idea of unschooling because I am also a believer that children are born intelligent and they can learn tremendously from their everyday life experiences.I am a mother of 7 children and 3 grandchildren and about to start my campaign for parents to take up the natural learning approach in educating their children as the life becomes more challenging in this world.the more the challenge the more you need to get connected to thei real life.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)