June 18, 2018

Unschooling And…Its Origins

Unschooling And…Its Origins

Kerry McDonald


Many people believe that unschooling began with John Holt. While it is most certainly true that John Holt coined the term “unschooling” in the late-1970s as part of his work in the emerging modern homeschooling movement, the philosophical roots of unschooling and Self-Directed Education go back centuries. This is not some new-age idea. 


John Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)

“For a child will learn three times as much when he is in tune, as he will with double the time and pains when he goes awkwardly or is dragg'd unwillingly to it.” 


Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, or On Education (1762)

"Everything is good as it leaves the hands of the author of things and everything degenerates in the hands of man.”


Sidney Hook (1971): “Only those unfamiliar with Dewey’s work can believe that he rejects the active role of the teacher in planning the classroom experience by properly organized subject matters.” - "John Dewey and His Betrayers." Change 3, no. 7: 26. 


Ronald Swartz, From Socrates to Summerhill and Beyond (2016)


A.S. Neill (Alexander Sutherland Neill), Summerhill School: A New View of Childhood (1960);

Freedom, Not License! (1966)


Paul Goodman, Compulsory Mis-education and the Community of Scholars (1964)


John Holt, How Children Fail (1964), How Children Learn (1967), Teach Your Own (1981)


Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society (1970)

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