Why Is That A Required Subject?

“The other day a pleasant and problably kindly coach and swimming instructor told me about some child who hadn’t wanted to swim, but he had made him, and the child had learned and now liked it, so why shouldn’t he have the right to compel everyone to swim?

There are many answers. The child might have in time learned to swim on his own, and not only had the pleasure of swimming, but the far more important pleasure of having found that pleasure for himself. Or he might have used that time to find some other skills and pleasures, just as good.

The real trouble, as I said to the coach, is this: I llove swimming, and in a school where nothing else was compulsory I might see a casxe for making swimming so. But for every child in that school there are dozens of adults, each convinced that he has something of vital importance to “give” the child that he would never get for himself, all saying to the child, “I know better than you do what is good for ou.” By te time all those people get through making the child do what they know is good for him, he has no time or energy left.

What is worse he has no sense of being in charge of his life and learning or that he could be in charge, or that he deserves to be in charge, or that if he were in charge it would turn out any way other than badly. In short, he has no sense of his identity or place. He is only where and what others tell him he is.”

John Holt, What Do I Do Monday? pg 41


One Response to “Why Is That A Required Subject?”

  1. Brookeh

    I really enjoyed reading this one. It got me thinking not only as a teacher but as a parent. I made me start to think how I often I do this to Maggie. And what I need to change so that she feels ownership over her life and actions. Thanks for the reminder!