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Previous Quotes of the Month for 1997

February

Good Times Prepare for Bad
by John Holt

Interviewer:
"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

March

"The best way to make children good is to make them happy."

Oscar Wilde

April

"It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wreck and ruin without fail. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty."

Albert Einstein

May

"At birth every infant has the potential to make the world more caring. Their need for a tender, nurturing mother can be met, or it can be denied. Most babies in our society fail. They do not get what they evolved to have. Is it any wonder, then, that our world is such an uncaring place?

"When we begin to face the truth about babies and what they need and are willing to provide it for them, then we will be on the road to becoming human again. We will not have to pretend to ourselves and to our children that we are a caring people. It will be obvious by the results."

James Kimmel, Ph.D.,
Whatever Happened to Mother?

See also: James Kimmel Library

June

"We don't yet know, above all, what the world might be like if children were to grow up without being subjected to humiliation, if parents would respect them and take them seriously as people."

Alice Miller

See also: Alice Miller Library

July

"Every stage in a child's life is there for a purpose. If we can respect and respond to her needs fully during each stage of her life, she can be done with that stage and move on."

Naomi Aldort

August

"...our survival as a human community may depend as much upon our nurture of love in infancy and childhood as upon the protection of our society from external threats."

Selma Fraiberg,
Every Child's Birthright: In Defense of Mothering

September

"The biggest disease this world suffers from is people feeling unloved."

Lady Diana Frances Spencer,
Princess of Wales

October

"Each of us must come to care about everyone else's children. We must recognize that the welfare of our children is intimately linked to the welfare of all other people's children. After all, when one of our children needs life-saving surgery, someone else's child will perform it. If one of our children is harmed by violence, someone else's child will be responsible for the violent act. The good life for our own children can be secured only if a good life is also secured for all other people's children." 

Lilian Katz,
Director of the ERIC Clearinghouse for Early Childhood Education and
Professor of Early Childhood Education at the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana)

November

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."

Mother Theresa

December

"In the end, the secret to learning is so simple: forget about it. Think only about whatever you love. Follow it, do it, dream about it. One day, you will glance up at your collection of Japanese literature, or trip over the solar oven you built, and it will hit you: learning was there all the time, happening by itself."

Grace Llewellyn,
The Teenage Liberation Handbook (Element Publishing, 1997).

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