robertogreco + questionasking + johnholt   1

Austin Kleon — John Holt, How Children Fail No matter what tests...
"What I love about Holt’s writing is how much of it comes from direct observation of life, and how little of it comes from theory. (This book began as a series of memos Holt wrote to his teaching partner.) However, while I respect these stories and direct observations from the classroom, they can also make for a slower reading experience, and I found myself skipping a lot of sections where Holt describes the specifics of trying to teach his students mathematics.

The writing in this book seemed to me to be much more frustrated and somewhat angrier than the writing in How Children Learn, and there were a few sections that made me cringe a bit from their brutal honesty. (One also needs to keep in mind the book was published in the mid-60s, so some of Holt’s descriptions, particularly one about a retarded child, were a little bit of a shock to me.)

Still, I’ve learned from Holt more than anybody else about how children learn, and there’s a lot to glean from this book. My notes, below — will try my best not to repost the themes I’ve already noted from Teaching As A Subversive Activity, which was obviously much influenced by this book.



Intelligence is a way of operating.



Humans are born intelligent, and children are natural learners.



Small children do not worry about success or failure.



Good thinkers are comfortable with uncertainty and not-knowing.



School make us unintelligent — primarily through fear.



Worst of all: we know how bad school can be, but no matter how bad it is, we still think it’s good for kids.



"Though I didn’t enjoy this book as much as How Children Learn, in the past few months, John Holt has had a tremendous impact on my thinking about how I should go about educating my kids, but more importantly, and maybe more surprisingly, he has had an enormous impact on how I think about my own work, so much of which is based on self-guided, self-directed learning. Even, and maybe especially, as someone who liked and excelled at school and is now moderately successful in my chosen career, he’s made me rethink why it is that I do what I do, re-examine some of my “teacher-pleasing” habits, why it was I “succeeded” in school in the first place, and how my “success” in my career, has been, mostly, attributable to methods and ways of operating that I didn’t learn in school, and how, in fact, a great deal of my best work was done outside of school, when I turned my back on formal education, and struck out on my own."
austinkleon  children  johnholt  learning  unschooling  howelearn  howchildrenfail  education  schools  teaching  deschooling  parenting  howweteach  self-directedlearning  self-directed  success  uncertainty  not-knowing  intelligence  fear  schooling  schooliness  process  observation  science  curiosity  questionasking  askingquestions  johntaylorgatto  neilpostman  charlesweingartner  dumbingusdown  teachingasasubversiveactivity  howchildenlearn 
july 2016 by robertogreco

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