Monday, August 09, 2004

More Holt quotes

From How Children Fail, Revised Edition, by John Holt

For times when DH or others are tempted to test what the munchkins know:
"I now realize that when we keep trying to find out what our students understand we are more likely than not to destroy whatever understanding they may have. Not until people get very secure in their knowledge and very skillful in talking about it -- which rules out almost all young children -- is there much point in asking them to talk about what they know, and how they know they know it. The closest we can come to finding out what children really know -- and it's not very close -- is to watch what they do when they are free to do what interests them most." (emphasis in original) p. 181

"A few good pinciples to keep in mind: (1) Children do not need to be "taught" in order to learn; they will learn a great deal, and probably learn best, without being taught. (2) Children are enormously interested in our adult world and what we do there. (3) Children learn best when the things they learn are embedded in a context of real life...(4) Children learn best when their learning is connected with an immediate and serious purpose." pp.221-22

"How can we foster a joyous, alert, wholehearted participation in life if we build all our schooling around the holiness of getting "right answers"?" p.242

Many parents and teachers have a belief about children in general that is both profoundly disrespectful and untrue. "It is that they never do anything and never will do anything "worthwhile" unless some adult makes them do it.... The only triumphs of [the child] that [the mother] savors are those for which she can give herself most of the credit. Children sense this attitude. They resent it. By what right do we assume that there is nothing good in children except what we put there? This view is condescending and presumptuous. More important, it is untrue, and blinds us to the fact that in our clumsy and ignorant efforts to mold the character of children we probably destroy at least as many good qualities as we develop, do at least as much harm as good. No -- we do far more harm than good." pp.267-68

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