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phil donahue: ... how the audiencefeels about this? can we see that graphic, ron? tell me how you feelabout this statement: "schools are not only destructiveof intellect, but character. with very few exceptions, the social lifeof our schools is mean-spirited, competitive, status-seeking,snobbish, cruel, often violent, and full of talk about who wentto whose party and who did not." how many agree with that?[light applause] off-camera male: that's more than i thought.

phil: how many disagree?[much louder applause] [playing devil's advocate]schools are doing a wonderful job. [laughter] woman in audience:well, i think they do a good job. and i think it depends onthe individual – or people. i think the children that go toschool make the difference in – phil: [continuing] i thinks thereare millions of young people being schlepped offto school every morning, and they don'twant to go. it is an unpleasant, non-encouraging,non-attractive place for them to be.

and they're goingbecause they have to. woman: oh, i disagree. i think children are goingto not want to do whatever the adult person wouldlike for them to do. phil: it's innate in childrenthen not to want to – woman: – not to want to do whatadults would like for them to do. phil: [continuing] but why shouldlearning be such a crock for so many kids? shouldn't learningbe exciting? woman: i think it is, if youhave the proper environment.

in most schools,the teachers are trying. phil: [continuing] the teachersare mad at the parents. woman: oh i don't think so. my son is a school teacher,and i hear both sides. phil: [continuing] the parentsare mad at the teacher. woman: no, i think they get togetherand understand each other – eventually. there may be some hostile – phil: [continuing] the schoolboard is mad at the teachers. woman: no, i don't think so.

phil: [continuing] the kids are madat the teacher. [laughter] no. you don't agree. this is all negative stuff themedia kind of keys on in the – woman: no. i don'tthink to the extent – i think there are children that arenot going to want to go to school. but that particular child's not goingto want to do anything, necessarily. and as far as socially,i think it does the kids good to be with other peoplerather than be kept at home, where i'm sure there are valuesthat are learned at home

that would be better than maybeyou could learn at school. phil: yeah. alright. woman: but you have to live in a real world. and this is the world we live in.we go out each – phil: [continuing] right. a bureaucraticworld where they test you, and you've got to get a numberon an ibm card or you're no good, and then the colleges won'thave you, and you feel stupid. woman: no.not at all. my children were raisedin a small community where there are parents who will say,

"oh, the schoolsystem's terrible." well, there's something wrongwith each school system. but our children go on to college,and our children achieve. and, like i say, we have goodyoung americans that – phil: [referring to the woman]a supporter of the schools! [applause] [indistinct speaker off-camera.] phil: let me introduce you to –(john, i'll get to you in just a moment.) john holt is the author of the statementthat i began our program with – an educator and a manwho has presided over –

not necessarily becausehe sought the job – but in a sense, he's the moral leaderof a movement in this country on the part of a significantnumber of american families that take their kids out of schooland teach them at home. now how do you feel about that?let's talk to the kinmonts first. richard and joyce,you're from utah. you have several childrenrunning around here – all looking loved and healthy.who wants to start it here? why in the world would you have takenyour kids out of the public school system?

joyce kinmont: because ienjoy teaching them myself – not necessarily because there wasanything wrong with our public schools, but just becausei like to do it myself. richard kinmont: we probably have someof the best schools, i would say, around. utah has somereal good schools. phil: but now you're sounding likethe chamber of commerce. you're saying – richard: no. what i'm tryingto say is we have good schools, and we really didn't take them outbecause we found something wrong. phil: yeah.richard: it kind of evolved.

phil: you've had no trouble with this –taking them out of the schools? joyce: not a whole lot.richard: no. it's been minimal. joyce: but i've alsorealized something else, too. when you send your children off to school,you're making some statements about what your home is like asa learning center, and you're saying, "there's a betterplace to learn." and you're also making some statementsabout what you're like as a mother – and you're saying, "there'ssomebody else who's better than your fatherand i are at teaching."

phil: peter and brigittavan daam are also here. you're a rhode island family.brigitta: that's right. phil: providence area?brigitta: providence itself. phil: providence itself.alright. there aren't that many areas outsideof providence in rhode island. [laughter] the van daams have three children.and you're really in it now. this is a very controversial,politically difficult situation for you, because, as i understand it,there's been – you've been arrested. peter: two times.phil: alright.

let's talk about – first of all –what's your speech? what's so – why don't you wantyour kids in the public schools? brigitta: that is not the point. the point is not that we didn'twant them in the public schools. they went to school, andthey've had the experience. they seemed to suffer more thanenough, and they wanted to stay home. phil: why did they suffer?how do you mean? brigitta: they didn't wantthe regulated type of learning that wasavailable in school.

and they wanted to just be withtheir parents and with each other – with theirbrother and sisters. peter: they wanted to exercisepersonal liberty. brigitta: right. peter: i remember jessica, at the ageof two and a half in nursery school, coming home after about four weeks,saying, "i don't like them telling me when i have to eat my cookie, or interruptingme when i'm drawing my picture, or making me sit aroundin a circle to sing a song when i want to do something else. phil: but doesn't the – see?now, yes, ah, never mind.

[audience laughs.] phil:you understand the – let me – [audience moans in disapproval]what's the matter? what's the matter with that? huh? well come on've got to help here. what's the matter?woman in audience: where's the discipline? brigitta: it grows. the discipline is growingas the children grow older. i don't think you can ask the sameamount of discipline of a two-year-old that you askfrom a college student.

john holt: phil, let me jump in here,because we've run into – phil: john holt commenting.go ahead, john. john: we've gone right to the heartof what one of the really big problems of the schools is,and that is they think discipline means only somebody tells you what to do,and then you have to do it. and there's nothing in thereabout an internal discipline. now any half-smart army sergeantknows that a discipline which is based on nothing except fear is notgoing to work in a moment of crisis. i served on a submarine inworld war ii, and, believe me,

fear was the smallest part of whatkept the discipline on that ship. phil: but i can feel thisaudience's energy directed in a negative waytoward the van daams. there is this sense thatsomehow if you let a child – if you allow a childto accommodate the inconvenience – or to refuse to toleratethe inconvenience of taking a nap, when all the rest take a nap,or taking a cookie, when all the others in the kindergartentake a cookie – john: sure. phil: – what you get,sooner or later,

is a very spoiled child.john: but that's not true. john: let me – [speaking to peter] – or you talk, and then i'll addsomething to it. peter: the child is learninga disrespect for discipline when she's beinginterfered with so much. here she is paying deepattention to her art work, and suddenly an adult interfereswith her for the sake of a routine. phil: but there are going to bea lot of interferences throughout life. peter: right. they can startin the family – in the home.

and then gradually, as she requiresmore activity within the community, she's going to deal with thoseinconveniences – as they have done. phil: john. john: phil, i know a homeschooling family in connecticut whose oldest daughter has beenout of school for many years. this summer she got annrotc scholarship to college. and part of the deal was that shehad to go take basic infantry training – i mean the whole bit – on your belly– in the mud – fire the guns, etc. now here's that real life youfolks are all talking about. this girl did brilliantly. she got a medalin marksmanship, grenade throwing.

she was suchan outstanding cadet, they've taken her ona special trip to germany. she left justa couple of days ago. i mean, that's about as realas real life can get, isn't it? so that worry, it justdoesn't work out in practice. brigitta: i think it's mainlyhaving faith in your own children, and trusting that when they want todo something, they are able to do it. phil: back here. woman in audience: but throughhomeschooling, i think that

the kids lose allthe contact with their peers. school isn't just the interactionwith the teachers and all the other students –which is good – but all the activities –cheerleading and band and football,and everything like that. i think that'svery important. and all of that would be lostthrough homeschooling, i think. joyce: that isn't lostthrough homeschooling. they are still able to dothose things if they want to.

but how many friends does aperson need to be well socialized? and do they necessarilyhave to be the same age? don't you gain a lot more from socializingwith people who know more than you do? phil: mike sheareris here. he's a person who was raisedin a homeschool situation. is that right, mike?mike shearer: right. phil: you share thiswoman's view, do you? mike: back there?phil: yeah. mike: yes. i'm much moreinclined to think that way.

what i hear them saying,i really don't like to hear at all. the school systems that we have– the public school systems and the parochial systems that we have– are imperfect school systems. but if they were perfect school systems,then they wouldn't be any good to us, because they wouldn't developa child or prepare a child for school – phil: yes. mike: – for adult life, or for business. phil: [restating mike's point cynically]right. let's not make schools perfect, because then they'll bemisled into thinking life is. if you'll forgive me, mr. shearer,that's a clarion call for non progress.

and you're certainly not hereto tell us that you believe that the american system ofeducation is in good order today. mike: oh, i think weshould strive to improve our school systems as best we male: sure. mike: surely there's a big differencefrom one school to another – from the chicago [schools] versusthe portland [schools], where i come from. phil: right. john: sure.let me jump in again, phil. mike: i've got somethingelse i'd like i to say too. john: alright, well –phil: alright.

mike: and that is, there'sa lot you can learn at home. but it's good for the childto get out of the home, get away from mom and dad,and talk to other people, because when they become adults,they've got that problem. male voice off camera:phil, phil. [loud and prolonged applause.]phil: listen to that – [indistinct crosstalk] male voice: – you've got to hear the way they are responding. brigitta: no. okay. okay.i absolutely disagree. i absolutely disagree.if you go –

we are here to livein a community, right? we are born, we areraised in a community. well – the children – one of the thingswe do, we go into the community. there is public – the public library has been great.there are all kind of community centers. they're great.we go to the zoo. phil: so you're saying your children arenot being socially deprived, so to speak. brigitta: oh, never.phil: can i just meet one of them for just a second, if you'll let me?this is julie. julie van daam. peter: julia.phil: julia – i beg your pardon.

julia is age [joking] 26. [laughter] julia van daam: 11.phil: 11. julia, you did go to public schools?julia: yes, i did. phil: you probably havesome difficulty remembering, because i think it was kindergarten,was it – or first grade, or what year? julia: i think itwas second grade. phil: okay. do you rememberthe experience or anything about it? can you share with ussome thoughts you have about what it was likewhen you were there?

julia: well, i – the teachers werenice to me – some of them. but i can't reallyremember too much. phil: do you remember anything bad?julia: yes. phil: what? julia: well, i got kind ofbeat up, sometimes. phil: from other kids?julia: right. phil: like fights?julia: yeah. phil: do you remember why?julia: no. phil: you never can, can you? after the fight,you wonder what it was about.

[laughter]john: it doesn't need to be a lot. phil: was this centralto your own decision? peter: well it wasn't herbeing beaten up. she was in school forfour and a half years. and right almost from the beginning,she started taking sabbaticals. she wouldn't be in school forsix weeks in the spring of each year – phil: yeah. peter: – because the regimewas just too tiring for the child. her sense of freedom, or whatnot, was taken away from her. peter: she was isolated – she was –

mike: life is like is like that. john: [mocking] life is like that. in the united states of america, just after the bicentennial [in 1976],"life is like that," mike: life is like that. mike: the best way to learn this is when they are young. [applause for mike] peter: and so because life islike that, we have to accept it. i don't agree with you. she was isolated – in a sense, imprisoned or incarcerated – from the real world.

she couldn't bewith her mother. she couldn't go meetour adult friends – phil: right. peter: - or have, say,her apprenticeship that she's had at a natural food restaurant. female voice: phil. phil: alright. yeah.alright, we'll give you – yes. woman: phil, the purpose of homeschooling is not isolation. the purpose is to do with yourkids what you would like to do. but there are so many otherways they can be socialized – brownies, scouts for the boys.

phil: you're obviously active in this.woman: yes. phil: tell us how and when – what.woman: well, it's your fault, phil. phil: how?because we invited you. woman: no, no. a couple of years ago,i caught the tail end of john holt being here. at the time my daughter wasthree and a half, i think. phil: yeah. we were very concerned, becauseshe was teaching herself at three what i as a teacher knew wouldbe taught in the first grade. and if she is learning this at three,what's she going to do

that whole year in first grade?be bored to tears. phil: yeah. woman: i was afraid shewould lose that desire to learn. phil: hmm. woman: i also felt like she was notready to be shoved ahead one or two grades socially, because she was shy at the time. she's outgrown this.phil: right. woman:: so to, me when i saw it,it was like, "that's the solution." phil: and you're an illinoisan, are you?woman: yes. phil: and you're getting away with this? how come you're not in jail, andwhat you are you doing? [laughter]

woman: we have the supportof our local school system. phil: this is pontiac, is it?woman: this is pontiac, illinois. phil: – alright. there's a thousand questions here,but let's – and we have to break. but – [ponders] [playingdevil's advocate.] this isn't practical. you know, i think –woman: certainly it is practical. phil: it is not, because most parents arenot going to do what you do. [applause] john: no. i'm not askingevery parent to do this. phil: and who's watching you?woman: no – i – no –

phil: as well-intentionedand loving as you are – woman: okay. you mightwant to put this up later. this is the curriculum that we hand in –phil: this is yours? – to the superintendentin pontiac, illinois – phil: you do, huh?woman: – so that they have an idea – phil: so you're playing ball withthe establishment, in a sense? woman: we play ballwith the establishment. phil: alright.language arts – woman: – math, science, social studies,music, physical education, and art.

they want us to cover all of theareas that are required by the state. phil: yeah. and howold is your daughter? woman: dawn isseven and nathan is six. phil: alright. and you're not worried thatthey're going to be raised in a vacuum and not be able to – ? woman: no! they're in soccer.they're in brownies. she's taking square dance lessons.phil: right. phil: and your husband –you're still married? [laughter] woman's husband: oh yeah.phil: good, alright.

well, we're very pleased to hear'll stand for just a second? so you're the - obviously, you'recooperative in this. husband: certainly. phil: are you you one ofthe teachers at home? man: no. phil: you're working outside the home?man: i work outside the home. woman: but that's not true. he takes dawn out whenhe changes the oil in the car. phil: what do you do?are you a professional type? man: i'm a social worker ata community mental health center, and i'm the director of childrenand adolescent services there.

so i do a lot of work withparents, teachers, schools. phil: alright. but does yourincome allow you to stay home and be the live-in school teacher,mother, dishwasher, and all that stuff? woman: this is the irony.i teach part-time at a preschool. phil: oh, so you are in the formaleducation system – woman: yes. phil:– for income – but you teach your own kids at home. woman: yes. phil: and how long are you going to keep this up?woman: as long as we like it and – phil: what if they want to go to school? woman: if they want to go to school,they're welcome to go.

phil: so if they want to go tohigh school and be cheerleaders, and he wants to play football,and all that stuff, that's going to be okay with you? woman: well i don't like football.i like soccer. phil: alright. but how do you knowthat he's going to be ready, and his knowledge and informationyou've given him will marry up with the system as it existswhen he enters it? woman: partly because i'ma teacher and i know the system. and partly because, every year, i havegone up to the school system

and asked for their curriculum –phil: okay. woman: – so that i know. phil: thanks both of you.we're a little long here. but before we go, just briefly,john, give us your briefest speech about numbers –why you think this is – and your own very briefoverview on the system that we've got, and why so manypeople are running away from it. john: okay.very brief. first, some people are obviously veryhappy with their kids' school experiences.

i'm not trying to make them unhappy.if they're happy, i'm happy. some peopleare not happy. and some people want to do itthemselves for other reasons. what i'm saying,in the first place, is that the constitution andthe united states supreme court have ruled thatthey have that right. now most educatorsdon't know that. two very importantsupreme court decisions – phil: subject to reviewby various courts.

there's hardly been a definitivedecision on this matter. john: oh, on the contrary. two –phil: ask the van daams. john: well – phil: they're under arrest. if it's soclear, how come they're going to jail? john: because the peoplewho are trying to put them in jaildon't know the law. phil: alright.okay. fine. but in any event, let's understandthat we have your opinion about that – john: right. phil: and there has yetto be any kind of real in-granite ruling on it.but i don't want that to – john: sure.

phil: and you wanted to proceedand make what point? john: i want to make the pointthat if people want to do this, they have a constitutionalright to do it – they can do it – and there are a lot of peoplewho will help them do it. mike: but is it fair to the child?is it fair to the child? phil: alright, wellwe'll ask those questions. what's wrong with the school systemnow, and why are you such a – ? you're a very influential voicewithin the community of educators. and you've really had some very negativethings to say about what we've got now.

john: well i can answer that very quickly. the schools would be a lot betterif they were a lot smaller – like marva collins' school;if the teachers were the bosses in their own classrooms –which, for the most part, they're not; if there was a wide variety of schools;and if parents could choose the schools they wanted.[applause] one sentence. phil: we're in chicago with parentswho are teaching their children at home, and with educator john holt.and we hope you'll join in. [♪ outro music ♪]

[commercials] [♪ intro music ♪] phil: is the caller there?female caller: yes, i am. phil: look at how thrilledthis young man is with our show. yes. you had a brief comment. caller: yes, i've got a brief comment.i take objection to the first interviewee. phil: yes. caller: i would like to knowwhat she considers the role of mothers. not all of us are qualifiedto teach. [applause] male voice: yes you are.joyce: okay.

phil: hang on just a many children do you have? caller: i have three.phil: ages? caller: well, they're grown now.phil: oh. caller: 35, et cetera, down. phil: alright. so you don't likethis idea of homeschooling? caller: i didn't say i didn'tlike it. i don't think it's – it should be a reality.there's no – john: it is a is a reality. phil: and what are the numberson this, john? what would you bet? john: oh, guessing,ten thousand or so families –

phil: in america?john: in the united states, yeah. maybe anotherthousand in canada. richard: i've got a questionfor the caller: what does it really taketo be qualified to teach? [moans and disapproving laughter] phil: yeah, i know you didn't mean to, but(dismissive laughter continues] you've just insultedall the teachers. see? that's the problemwith that comment. i'm not saying your questionis not worthy of consideration,

richard: no, i'm sincere. phil: – but that's the reasonfor this jeering. john: it's a problemwith the teachers. now let me tell you somethingthat you don't know. in four states now,the courts have challenged the state educational authoritiesto produce any evidence that certified teachers could teachbetter than non-certified teachers, and in four states, they were notable to produce any such evidence. there isn't any such evidence.phil: yes.

john: it's a myth that you have to goto some kind of education college. male off-camera: i don't know –joyce: let me answer this caller too. now she wanted to knowwhether i was qualified. i had to go outand learn things. and she wanted to knowthe role of a mother. it kind of depends on what youwant to be. john: sure. joyce: i didn't want to bethe laundry lady, and the cook, and the house cleaner only –i wanted something more. why should i givethe best part to somebody else,

while i stay homeand clean the kitchen? phil: over here, please.just give us a second here. woman: i havetwo questions. first of all, do all of the peoplethat teach their children at home follow a curriculum,like this woman just said? and secondly –this is to the van daams – you said that you wantyour children to have the freedom to do what they want. well what happens when they get into the job situation,

and their employer tells themthat they have to do certain things? they can't run back hometo mom and dad. [applause][indistinct comments] peter: julia is alreadyin a job situation. she has an apprenticeshipat a health food restaurant. she's been helping outwith the buying. phil: excuse me.peter: she makes the bread. phil: julia, you –peter: she chops the vegetables. phil: – where do you work?peter: she works in the kitchen.

you might as well getthe plug in here too. julia: i work at a natural foods restaurant.peter: amara's restaurant. phil: alright. thanks, dad.and what do you do? do you stock, or do you handle –do you take care of customers, or what? julia: well, i helpprepare the food. phil: you do?and you're eleven? july: yeah.phil: mmm hmm. john: phil, there are threeother kids who work here. phil: yes. let me get andrea in the act here.

this is andrea kinmont – john: see, they're in the job world.phil: – from utah. andrea is – i don't wanna be paternalisticabout this, because you're obviously a very intelligent and attractiveyoung woman – not a child anymore. you are 14, 15?andrea: 15. phil: and you go to a mormon schoolfor religious instruction about an hour every day.andrea: yes. phil: you tell me you also go tothe public school for a drama class. andrea: yes, i do.

phil: but everything elseyou learn at home – andrea: uh huh. phil: – with mom and dad,whom we've just met here. andrea: mmm hmm. joyce: no, mostly, she learns on her own. phil: she does?andrea: yeah. joyce: she's too old for me.she doesn't need me much anymore. phil: but how do youknow what she's doing, and where she's going,and what not? andrea: because i check in with them a lot. phil: you do? andrea: they're not – peter: that's one of my roles, phil,is to interview each one of the children

every week and get the feedback –talk about life problems and curriculum. phil: i see. you also work, andrea.andrea: uh huh. phil: what do you do?andrea: i work at taco time. i do everything: cook, help customers.phil: really? well is the caller listening?caller: yes, i am. phil: this is pretty impressive, huh?brigitta: can i say – ? phil: i mean how manyof us have kids – you've got to kick them out thedoor to get them to find a job. brigitta: i want to say that there aremany different ways of going about this.

you don't have to be a can go and find a tutor, if you want. if you feel more comfortable,you can go barter. what i have done over the past year or so is i am teaching an art class at a montessori school. and in exchange, the montessori teachertutors our children with all of their lovely material. phil: yeah.brigitta: there are many ways to go about it. phil: yes. andrea,do you have friends? there is concern that ifwe teach our kids at home, that they somehow won'tbe socialized –

that they'll be isolated and it will be difficult for them to engage in any kindof group activity. andrea: i don't think so.i think a lot of them are interested. and i think they support us a lot. and i have a lot of friends.phil: you do? i meet all different ages ofpeople – because i'm in drama. and i feel a lotbetter socialized for that. phil: but isn't there some part of youthat would like to go to school with allthe other kids?

andrea: no, becausethe hour i spend at the high school, i think that's enough. and i wouldn't want to bethere any more than that. phil: why?andrea: i don't know. it's maybe a negativeattitude and things. phil: can you tell usmore about that? what you sense when youdo go to that high school? andrea: because the kidsdon't want to be there, and they don't like school –or things like that.

phil: hmm. you sense that, do you?andrea: yeah. phil: and the bell rings and everybody moves from class to class? andrea: yeah. phil: do you root forthe football team, or – ? wouldn't you ever wanna be a cheerleader or all of the other goods things that – ? andrea: no. i'm not really into sports.drama mostly. phil: okay. do any of the other young peoplewith whom you associate ask you aboutwhat you're doing? and are they curious about you because you homeschool? andrea: oh, yes! there are a lotof people that are really interested.

phil: what do they say,and what do they ask you? andrea: the usual questions.[laughs.] phil: yeah. is it like they want to do it?is that the sense that you have? andrea: no i don't.i think – well, some of them say, "that would be nice. i'd like do that." and some are just interestedand would like to know what we do. phil: yeah. we are notgoing to worry about andrea. joyce: phil. phil: yes. thanks!mike: what about – ? joyce: a lot of time, high schoolkids are too socialized.

they're too into the peer group andthey cannot break away. [light applause] phil: mike shearer,let's get this straight now. mike was raised in a homeschoolingsituation, and is sorry about it. when you went to college,you said, you had some problems, huh? mike: it was very difficult to – phil: because – mike: because of the system – period – because i'd been completely out ofthe system from second grade. phil: mmm hmm. mike: and actually,i went back to school in the 11th grade. phil: yeah. mike: and it was extremelydifficult to to get used to – well, i never did.

even through ten years of college,to get my degree in business ad[ministration]. joyce: could i ask mike a question?phil: sure. mike: but my question thati wanted to state was that i'm sure that you're qualified to be a teacher. and you are too.and i don't think that's the issue. i think the issue is – like phil wasjust getting to with her – is interaction with other children.there is so much learning and – phil: but this hardly looks like a socially deprived young woman here. [laughter] mike: sure, that's true. but – phil: but not to dismiss your point.

peter: phil? phil: yeah.mike: it's that interaction – peter: julia has just started going back to school. phil: alright. you're 11and you just began? julia: yes. phil: and how's it going?andrea: good. phil: you mean back to a formal – or to a public school? peter: yes – [correcting himself] or a private school. phil: private you feel uncomfortable now that you're – andrea: no. not at all. phil: mmm's fine. it's fun to be there. peter: a duck in water.

phil: alright. okay.we thank you for that observation. and let me geta caller in here. yes. we haven't much the caller there? caller: yes, i am.phil: briefly. caller: i just wanted to saythat i'm for this home education, because i myself have been feelingvery under pressure in my community that is sending off2-year-olds to school. and i feel that is way too young.2, 3 – [light applause] male voice: i have my2-year-old in a day care center.

phil: yes. yes. hang on a minute. joyce: could i ask him a question?phil: well now, hang on a minute. we've got this out on the floorhere for just a moment. let's just – as a matter of fact,i'm not going to suggest that we should pressureanybody to do anything. but there's a considerablebody of evidence to suggest that from birth to languageto the age of kindergarten is a very importantlearning time for young people. and it's a time, often,when we've got children

lying – perhaps unchallenged – in an isolated room in the house while mother is busy abouther own responsibilities. i'm not sure what the consequenceof that would be. but – caller: right. phil: i'll give educator holt a chanceto speak to that in a moment. you're thinking about takingyour kids out of school? caller: yes, i am.i have – phil: how many kidsdo you have? caller: i have four, and i'm expecting another one. i have a 2-year-old.

phil: (playing devil's advocate)you can't do it. you couldn't possibly do'll have a nervous breakdown. [laughter]caller: no, i won't. [applause] phil: wait a minute.wait a minute. richard: yes you can.[applause] phil: what? you don't think it'll –you think you can handle it? caller: yes i do. john: yes she can.richard: i agree. [applause] phil: and we'll be backin just a moment. phil: teach your own is the titleof a book written by john holt,

just one of several he's writtenon the whole business of education. say what you want about john holt,he is hardly trying to be popular here. and i think that because apparently –john: i'm not trying to be unpopular. [laughter] phil: no, i know you're not.john: no, listen – but the point is there isa terrible pressure not to rock this billion-dollar boatcalled "public education." john: 100 billion dollar.100-billion-dollar boat, folks. listen, there's an article in the current issue of chicago magazine. i didn't write says "can the school's be saved?"

there was a cover story intime magazine last summer. it said "help!teachers can't teach!" a cover story in newsweek said,"why the public schools are flunking." i didn't writethose articles. i mean, it's ridiculous to think thatthese problems originated with me. in any case, i say again, "if you're happywith what they're providing, good, good! i'm not trying to takeit away from you." but there are a lot of peoplewho aren't happy. and i'm saying –(that's what that book is about.

that's what our magazine"growing without schooling" is about.) – you have another can do it another way. [light applause] male: john? phil: over here. just a moment. woman in the audience: but i feelyou can do it within the system. what you haveis a commune. you're taking away're isolating. phil: (playing devil's advocate.)the "commune" is called "family." woman: well, yes.[light applause] but they have a commune-isolation rejecting of society.

the van daams had someoptions when they saw the teacher who was grabbingthe paper away within the process. you can do something about can change schools. you can find caring, loving teachers.there a lot of them out there. and you can gothrough the system. brigitta: well, we – yeah. joyce: but if we've found somethingbetter, why should we go back to that? john: right. joyce: and our children in homeschool are not isolated. it's the children who arelocked into a classroom

who are isolated fromwhat's going on in the world. phil: over here, please. woman: the questioni have is what you do when they're going to lookfor a job, and they ask – the requirement of the job isthey need a high school diploma? joyce: we're a private schooland they'll have a diploma. robbie's 11 and he has a job.woman: and they're – ? joyce: and richie's 13and he has a job. woman: and that employer wouldaccept that as a standard?

joyce: they love them.richard: absolutely. john: no problem. joyce: they love them because these kids work well. john: i know of – in that same familyi spoke of in connecticut, the 15-year-old has started workingas an avon representative. she's the youngest one inthe history of that company. she's doing extremely well at it.woman in the audience: how do you – ? john: now what's this about the real world you keep talking about? these people know moreabout the real world than you'll ever learn in a schoolroom.woman: how do you grade them?

woman: when they're at home, do yougive them tests and grade them? how do you know howthey're progressing? joyce: well, we're with them every day. how could we not knowwhat they're doing? woman: you don't give themany tests or anything? woman: when they go to school, there's a test – mike: how can they compare themselves with other children? woman: – and they have to pass a test, and then they fail if they don't. joyce: i don't need tocompare them other children.

mike: you may needto compare them, just to make them – woman in audience: the little girl here –that one looks so well put together because she's had somedrama training, perhaps. but this little one here –[audience laughter] phil: well, wait a minute. be careful. be –[laughter and applause] [inaudible conversationbetween phil and the woman] woman: [inaudible] she comes through great. phil: yes. well, they all do, don't they?[woman's final comment inaudible] phil: yes. we're verythrilled about that.

phil: let me just getsomebody on the line. hi. is the caller there?is the caller there? female caller: can you hear me? phil: yes. go right ahead. caller: yes, i would just liketo say that one of the main reasons that children don't wantto go to school today – and one of those isthe discipline and humiliation they receive from their teachers. in discipline, childrenare expelled from school.

during this time, they are notgiven their homework, and they're being punished. they are sent stay at home for ten days. and you come back to school,and you're supposed to pick up just like things werewhen you left off. but your classes are all ten daysahead of you. you are not – there are not many teachers –they are mad at you. they're not going to give youextra time to help you make up for thistime you've lost.

phil: yeah, hang onjust a second. you support that?woman: yeah, i've been in school for – i was brought through schoolup until my college year. and now i'm going back to –i'm gonna be a homeschooler, because that's the way my stepmotheris raising my little brother. and i just think the advantages –what she's talking about, you go back to school after you'vebeen sick or something, and you're supposed to knowwhat they are all talking about. and when you come back,you're supposed to be able to take a test

and do as well as everyone elsewhen you've missed that much. and it's just - phil: yeah.woman: – the pressures are – phil: and your feelings about attitudes and so on, how would you evaluateteachers' attitudes, kids? woman: well i think youcan get some good teachers, and i think that you can get some bad teachers. i had a teacherlast year who was very – it could have been my imagination.but i think he was down on women. i found out later on –

i was interested in going to work forthe national geographic eventually. and he told me not even to bother –that it wasn't even worth it. and later on, i found out that hehad gotten turned me down from it. so, it's a lot of personality conflictsthat you come up with. phil: yeah. phil: anybody in this sectionover here while i'm here? yes, miss, can you stand? woman: well. just over all,i feel like we're stereotyping homeschooling vis ã  vis this view of us sitting at home in the kitchen, with a tiny little book that says,"i will teach my child to read."

we don't do itthat way. we do it by using our resources:the city – chicago's an ideal place. phil: yes. woman: we have the art institute.we have the field museum. and we're lucky here.but we use the world. we do not sit in the kitchen and count rocks,and put them in a little bottle. phil: i understand that. but if it catches on,i don't think you can get out from under the anxiety that's generatedby this phenomenon. it should – first of all, we've alreadygot it in christian schools. there are christian schools where teachers –don't leave me. [laughter]

– where teachers are not certified –no attempt is made to determine what kind of education they have,how they relate to the pupils. john: phil, listen. phil: not to mention religious bigotrythat is very much a part of the theology that's being taught to 6-, 7-, and 8-year-old minds, who, when they are 18-years-old,may or may not know the multiplication tables,and may have some very destructive attitudes about people who are not christian. now how do you speakto those problems? john: let's talk about thatcertification again. [applause for phil]

the kentucky state board of education triedto get the private religious schools in kentucky declared illegal on the groundsthat their teachers weren't certified. and in the court case,the lawyer defending the schools challenged the state –(i said this before.) – challenged the state to show anyevidence that certified teachers could teach better than uncertified [teachers], and the judge in the case ruled – and these were his exact words – that the state had not produceda scintilla of such evidence. now you can very easily verifyfor yourselves, ladies and gentlemen –

just write the schoolsand ask for their catalogs – that the leading private schoolsof this country – the longest established, highest prestige,most academically demanding, have very few people on their facultieswith education training or certificates. there's no proof that this stuff works.teaching's not a mystery. and you can doit if you want to. phil: and we'll be back in just a moment. [applause] phil: hi. is the caller there?female caller: yes. thank you. first of all, let me just statethat i grew up in south america.

i went to school there,and it was a super strict school, and we had uniforms, and wehad to learn every subject. we didn't have the choice of subjectslike kids do here at school, where they take cooking and typing, etc. my question mostly –and now i'm really confused, because i'm not too sureabout the american school system – and i have a daughter,and i don't know what i'm gonna do. phil: we don'thave much time. briefly tell us what bothers youabout the american school system.

caller: well, the factthat it's very impersonal. schools are so big, i don't think teachershave time to get to know their students. students don't get timeto make really close friends, because they're switchingfrom one class to the other, and changing friendsall the time. but on the other hand,my question was to the van daams. they say that that theydon't like the fact that their kids have a certain routine at school – and that at home, they have more freedom.

does that mean that theycan eat when they want, go to bed when they want,get up when they want? phil: the van daams commenting. peter: there is a familyroutine that's evolving. as we work together and bring other people into the home – tutors oroutside activities – everything has to be scheduled, budgeted, and operated on. joyce: can i say just real quickly, too,that children are like hothouse plants, and there is a time when they needthe protection of their home environment,

and there is a time whenthey're ready to go out. and all children are not the same.only a parent can decide that. you can disciplinea child to death. it grows with the child.phil: over here, please. woman: the trouble with that, too,is that the child learns no self-discipline. joyce: right. woman: they have to learn that within themselves – [light applause] phil: under what circumstances do they learn no self-discipline? woman: i think these peoplemisunderstand me. under the circumstances of public school.brigitta: that's right.

woman: you learnself-discipline in the home. you learn itfrom example. you don't learn it from someonetelling you what to do all the time. brigitta: i think you learn italso from the child, from the child – mainly looking at the child, watchingand allowing the child to unfold. phil: not much time. yes. woman: but what happens to the people who don't do the competent kind of job that these three families are doing? what happens to childrenwho have learning disabilities?

phil: mr. holt wants youto know that you are a better teacherthan you think you are. that's a central pointof much of these – john: listen. let me jump in on that. one thing that has been donein the public schools quite a number of timesover the years is – this is an experimentin reading instruction. what they do is take fifth gradersand have them teach first graders. and the schools that have done thishave consistently found that

the fifth graders are as good at teachingfirst-graders to read as their regular teachers. woman: but what happens to childrenwho are learning disabled? joyce: there are some failures.woman: or what happens to children who don't tell their parents that they are not happy with the situation? john: listen. about the learning disabled.let me tell you this. we get a lot of lettersat growing without schooling – that's this magazine we publishwhich is about that. we get hundreds of letters from parents. and a lot of people say,"our kids went to school

knowing how to readand knowing how to write, and within six months,they were reading letters backwards, and writing letters backwards,and doing these things, and we took them out of the schools,and after a while, that cleared up." this learning disabilitystuff – that's – well, we could take a whole program on that. phil: yeah. john: that's mostly a stress reaction.phil: how many kids have an ld label put on them without the research?it has no definition. you think that there'ssomething wrong with your kid –

and what you might have isan extraordinarily energetic child who is not marrying up very wellwith the law-and-order environment of the school system. (applause)john: yeah. woman: i'd like toquote mark twain. he said that, "except forthe time i spent in school, my whole life has beena learning experience." i got straight a's, but i don't think i learned very much. now i do research on my own and i thinki learn a lot more. [light applause] phil: yes ma'am.yes ma'am. briefly.

woman: i just wondered. i don't mindthat you're teaching your children at home, but i get the impression you're tryingto tell all us that we have to, too. [multiple voices]: no!richard: not at all. joyce: never. joyce: we're not saying that at all. john: let me try it again,let me try it again. i've said it twice. i thought i said it plainly.let me try it once more. if you're happy with theschool experience, fine. i'm happy. i'm not trying to make youunhappy or change your mind. what i'm saying is if you don'twant that, if you don't like it,

if you want todo it yourself, you have that constitutional right –you have that capacity – anything you needto learn to do it, you can find out from the peoplewho are already doing it. you can find out from can do it if you want to. but you don't have toif you don't want to. phil: over here, john man: one interesting question is why isrecess the most popular subject? [laughter] and when i think back on –phil: i gotta get in here.

you know the other thing that kills me about schools? they're always looking or reasons not to have it. man - yeah. that's right.phil: i mean no matter what – and how many teachers go to thoseteachers conferences on the days that you don't have to the schoolbecause there's a teacher's conference? and how come they have to have the day off before the teachers conference so they can prepare forthe teachers conference? man: and what aboutall the sick leave? phil: you mean writteninto the contracts?

man: yeah, the other thing is what do you really learn in elementary school? i mean what do you reallylearn practically? joyce: okay. mike: you learn how to [indistinct]man: isn't it really socialization – or control? joyce: there aretwo things going on. one is teaching skills,and one is the collection of facts. if you teach your children skills,they can collect their own facts. they don't need to go to schooland have somebody shovel it in. phil: back here, please. woman: i'd like to know the length of time you devote to the studies during the day.

joyce: i spend about a half an hourindividually with each child, and about an hourreading all together. phil: and the van daams?peter: varies incredibly. phil: so, it's nota rigid thing. it's not like from 2 to 4,or anything like that. peter: sure. phil: all right i'll get you much do – woman: but how much timedo teachers give teaching? phil: you're a homeschooler, right, or are you teaching? woman: i'm both. phil: alright. woman: how much timedo the children that go to the public school

get individually withthe teacher per week? it's very low. right, john?john: it's very low. [ ♪ outro music ♪ ] john holt, as we've already established,has a newsletter on this whole issue of homeschooling, and othermatters relating to education. he's on boylston streetin boston. that's 729 boylstonboston ma 02116. that's john the caller there? female caller: mmm hmm.phil: yeah, go ahead.

female caller: i'm 16 years old. i've been going to publicschool since kindergarten. and i'd just like tosay i'm very happy. i'm having a wonderfulexperience in a public school. [applause]phil: let's hear it for the schools. male off camera: that's good.woman: i don't understand how – caller: i think a good deal of the reason people don't want to put children in public schools is because they'revery scared about the public school. but really, as long asyou go in feeling like

you can do something,and not having any apprehension, i think you can havea great time in a public school. and i just don't see how kidswho are taught at home get everything thati get in a public school. phil: okay. hang on just a minute.alright, the audience agrees with you. john: they get more than you do.phil: yes. woman: i don't understand how people like mothers would have time for this. it's really hard. [applause]peter: our mothers have time for this. woman: i just have a comment for mr. shearer.

i was taught to read bymy grandmother, who was a teacher, by the time i was 3 years old. but i went to public school,and i enjoyed it. and i really got a good dealout of it. [applause] woman: you said thatyou were under arrest. are you still under arrest orare you off the hook, or are you – ? brigitta: we're still under arrest.the problem is – what we feel isthere should be diversity – a lot of different choices forparents as well as for the children.

children shouldbe able to say, "i would like to go to this school.""i would like to be home." but what they are doingin our situation is there's only one choice –it's you send your children to school. phil: these are the van daams,providence, rhode island. the state authorities versus thisfamily that wants to home school. john: what they're doing – woman: will theysend you to jail? phil: will they send youto jail they want to know?

john: they threaten it sometimes.peter: they've threatened it. woman: what about taxes –john: they threatened to take – and you have to understand,phil, that a lot of the reason that these people do this is to try to intimidate other families out of doing it. it has nothing to do withthe needs or benefit to the child. it has nothing to do withthe law or the constitution. woman: and not everybody has trouble.we don't have any trouble with ours. john: no, not everybody does.some of the schools are very nice about it. woman: what about taxes.isn't that the next step –

– if you don't use the schoolsystem, not to pay school taxes? joyce: lots of people pay taxeswho don't don't use the school system. phil: yes, yes.alright. yes ma'am. woman: don't you feelthis whole issue has come up because of the poor quality of the teachers? woman: it doesn't matter. woman: and if you teachyour children to a certain age, eventually they'll have to goon to a higher education. and do you feel they will bebetter qualified to be teachers [indistinct] –

joyce: there aren't just system failures at home. mr. shearer believes he wasa failure in home school. but aren't there some failuresin the public school system, too? mr shearer: i don't feeli was a failure at home school. i just feel that because ofthe the fact i was isolated, joyce: okay but thatwould be a failure – mike: and didn't have other childrento compete with in a classroom situation – joyce: okay,but that's a failure. [audience responds to joyce with disapproval]

mike: – then i gained –thanks a lot. john: okay, but let's get some more facts's another article. peter: [indistinct] john: hang on peter. there was an article in the paper just the other day ago about the university of california. they have a lot of homeschoolkids going into the university system. and the article said – the reporter said,[adopts mocking tone] "surprisingly, these homeschool studentsdo very well in the california university system." phil: alright.john: it isn't surprising to me. mike: i did very well in all a's and b's.

john: well then it couldn't have hurt you too much. phil: alright, alright you wantedto make what point with so little time? woman: very quickly,i'd like to make one comment. everyone todayis talking about - [crosstalk] phil: hold it just a moment please.woman: – socialization of the children. one of the reasons i'm looking foran alternative for my child is because of the type of socialization that i seegoing on in the elementary schools: mean, competitive, cruel, insensitivebehavior between the children. but most people say, "wellthat's natural. that's children."

i don't think it is. andi don't think it's necessary. [light applause] male off-camera: yeah.mike: the world is like that. woman: my question iswhat about college? do these kids have –have you known any kids that have – phil: he just answered that. he's saying that they can go to college,that there is evidence that children who are homeschooledget into the swim of it, and there's no – woman: engineering, and medicine?john: yeah, yeah, all of that. peter: mit does not require a high schooldiploma for you to gain admittance.

phil: but they're going tolove you for that statement. i'm sure it's true. but we can only speculate on what the admissions office is going to hear as a result. yes. woman: i taught my daughter to read at two and a half, but i didn't feel that i was qualified to continue teaching her, and i put her in the public schools.phil: yeah. what is your education? john: why not?there are lots of people who – phil: did you go to a –you went to high school?

woman: yes, and college. phil: and you graduated from college?woman: yes. phil: with a degree in –woman: bachelor of fine arts. phil: do you understand that there are anumber of teachers out there who perhaps don't have the academic kindof background that you have? and why is itthat we are so – we have this low self-imageabout our own ability to teach. phil: what is itthat those women – what is it that those teachershave that you don't have?

are they smarter than you?john: no way. woman: i guess i felt they were qualifiedin areas that i wasn't qualified in. phil: yeah. phil: yeah, yeah. woman: if a parent can trust themselvesto bear these children and raise them from age birth to roughly 5 years old, they teach them some ofthe most important things in their lives at that point.phil: yeah. woman: why can't they trustthemselves to go further? phil: because - i'd like totry and answer that.

i don't think we want this job.woman: that's right. phil: we did not want this job.woman: and those of us that want it – [applause] phil: and there is a tremendous –and let's be honest with ourselves: for all the wonderful things the school system has done – and nobody has taken this kind of responsibility unto themselves – millions and millions of kidsthat we've given ourselves the responsibilityof publicly educating. this is a big deal. so we deserve a lot of credit for that. but let's get this in.

the school's get our kidsout from under our feet. woman: that's right. [light applause]phil: and in that sense - and as long as they'reproviding that service, it's - there aren't that many of us that aregoing to say, when somebody in the system stands up in our culture withcredentials like john holt, who's saying, "maybe you cando this better." "no, no. i'm not qualified.i can't do this." woman: but those of us whodo want to do it, we just want peopleto understand why we do it.

phil: you don't want to be harassed by a state authority. woman: exactly. woman: we don't want people thinking we're strange and –. phil: yeah, but i don't knowwhether you're being totally honest about the consequence of this thing if it ever catches on. if it catches on, you're going to haveall kinds of unevenly educated children. woman: we have all kinds ofunevenly educated children coming from the public schools. john: we have all kinds of unevenly educated children now. phil: alright. you say it can't be worse.

john: nobody holds the schools up to the standards that everybodywants to hold parents up to. phil: and we'll beback in just a moment. if you would like a writtentranscript of today's program, send $2.50 in checkor money order to donahue transcriptsbox 2111 cincinnati oh 45201. include the subject or the name of the guest with your request. phil: teach your own,john holt's thesis on why – if you choose – he says with emphasis –you ought to be able to teach on your own.

the other point abouteducation we ought to get in is: we say we admire teachersand respect them, but i don't think we mean it.[light applause] we don't pay them.we don't – our attitude about them is certainlydifferent than our attitude about a vice president who's withibm, or a stockbroker. and we seem to be kiddingourselves in a lot of ways. john: but they don'thave to produce. [video ends as in-studio conversation continues.]