September 14 was a momentous day for homeschoolers–and anyone interested in education. On the anniversary of the death of education pioneer John Holt, Holt Associates has made freely available all the back issues of Growing Without Schooling magazine for anyone, anywhere, to read.
In 1995, Growing Without Schooling changed my life and dramatically shaped the lives of my kids–most of whom hadn’t yet been born. I was staying home with my firstborn daughter, still getting the hang of nursing and babywearing, when I encountered John Holt’s name, and the name of his magazine, on an AOL discussion board. I sent away for a copy of GWS, and upon its arrival I was completely gobsmacked. Here were families from all over the country–all over the world, even–writing letters about how their kids were growing up without school. These kids were doing amazing, sparkling, fascinating things; they were entering science fairs and making pottery and performing at festivals and writing computer programs and mastering calligraphy and publishing comic books. They were busy, they were joyful, and they were head over heels in love with learning.
This, I thought. This is what I want for my kids. I subscribed to the magazine and waited eagerly for my copy each month. I was a subscriber until it ceased publication in 2001. I still have all those back issues–I’ve moved them from New York to Virginia to California. I purged pretty ruthlessly before the last big cross-country move–all my weaving magazines went to a lucky gal on Freecycle–but Growing Without Schooling made the trip with me.
I’m thrilled that now everyone has access to these inspiring journals that are a form of living history. Founded in 1977, long before there was this magical thing called the Internet, the magazine was a way for homeschooling and unschooling families to connect with each other, sharing adventures and advice. Nowadays we do this via blogs and Facebook and email and Yahoogroups. John Holt was a visionary in many respects, and one of the most profound was this vision of his that brought families together to encourage and inspire each other at a time when raising kids outside the boundaries of traditional school was practically unheard of.