John Holt On Coercion

John Holt On Coercion

“The idea of painless, non-threatening coercion is an illusion.

Fear is the inseparable companion of coercion, and its inescapable consequence. If you think it is your duty to make children do what you want, whether they will or not, then it follows inexorably that you must make them afraid of what will happen to them if they don’t do what you want.

You can do this in the old-fashioned way, with the threat of harsh words, infringement of liberty, or physical punishment.

Or you can do it in the modern way; subtly, smoothly, quietly, by withholding the acceptance and approval, which you and others have trained the children to depend on; or by making them feel that some retribution awaits them in the future, too vague to imagine, but too implacable to escape.”

John Holt, How Children Fail (1964)


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