"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
"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
"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