Sunday, July 1, 2012

Holt: Good Times Prepare for Bad

"Do you think that that philosophy of saying 'I want them to go to school where it is really tough and hard because the world is tough and hard' works?"

John Holt:
"No, it doesn't work... I should say a word on good experiences being the best preparation for bad experiences. At the end of the Second World War, our own [U.S.] army made an experiment. It had found out, as armies do, that wars are basically won not by soldiers who dive airplanes down the funnels of aircraft carriers, but by men who slogged on day after day, doing a little bit more than their share - as we say, 'hanging in there' you know, men with enormous 'sticking power'...

"The army became curious. It said, 'what kind of growing up experiences have produced these soldiers with the ability to hang on and endure when others are beginning to crack and give up?' So they made an investigation. They got names, they looked into their history, and what they found out - which, I think, was the exact opposite of what they wanted to find out - was that these people had extraordinarily happy childhoods, loving families, happy memories... They had lots of 'money in the bank' and they could draw on it when things got tough."
Excerpted from John Holt's interview in England, 1981, transcribed by Jo-Anne Beirne

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