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Extra info for A Life Worth Living - Selected Letters of John Holt
I agree with you very strongly that a student who feels that he must be told what to do, and can’t or won’t or at any rate doesn’t do anything unless he is told, has a serious problem. e. tell him what to do — I am not really helping him solve his problem but only postponing his confrontation with it. On second thought, I think I have to express a little skepticism about these “turned off” students. 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.
I seem to remember we were once having a conversation, perhaps at Jerry Friedman’s in Berkeley, on the matter of culture, and I either said or perhaps thought that when you speak of human culture what you are really thinking about is Western culture, that other modes of thinking, other cultures in the world, seem either primitive or initial steps down a road that we have already traveled. At the time this seemed a little parochial, perhaps. Since then, thinking about it more, I have come to feel that it is, if true, quite seriously mistaken.
I expect it will shake up a few Old Blues. I know what you mean about feeling that you had thought something yourself, when in fact you hadn’t done so. This is exactly how Dennison’s new book makes me feel. I’m sending along a review I wrote of it and hope you’ll read it (the review) and then the book. I’m also sending along some very important articles by Ivan Illich. Both these guys have really carried my own thinking forward a little bit, but their thoughts are such a logical consequence of the thoughts I have thought already, that it’s really hard to know where my thought ends and theirs begins.