By Susannah Sheffer
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Extra info for A Life Worth Living - Selected Letters of John Holt
Also, I want time to talk to many of the people, yourself included, from whom I feel I have things to learn, instead of having to spend all my time talking to people who want to talk to me, if you see what I mean. Best, In the Student-Directed Learning course, Holt gave no grades or required assignments, and some of the students found this troubling. ” Holt responded with the following letter when he returned from California. [TO DAVID ZUCKERMAN] 4/11/69 Dear Dave, Thanks a lot for yours of 3/15.
But it [is] nonetheless mistaken. Institutions do not occupy all the life space on earth. It is not the case that a human being only has a choice between working in one institution or some other institution. There is a lot of life space in between and outside the institutions, in short, there are an enormous number of opportunities, either for starting what I prefer to call new human arrangements, like communes, free schools, cooperatives, artistic ventures, individual consulting, etc. [or] for simply walking away from, deliberately turning one’s back on institutions that do not serve one’s need.
It may be true that I was not “telling” them what to do, but I was certainly giving them plenty of suggestions about things that I thought were worth doing. It really is not fair to say that I was leaving them in some kind of vacuum. It isn’t as if I made no suggestions, or made no resources or options available-to them. I made a great many. If they chose not to avail themselves of ant of them, that is their right, but I am damned if I can see how I am to somehow be blamed for it. If I use such emphatic language it is not because your letter or the recollection of the course which it arouses has made me angry, but because this is a question that I meet all the time and which you will meet as you start working in these ways, and I want to state my feelings about it very emphatically.
A Life Worth Living - Selected Letters of John Holt by Susannah Sheffer