How Children Learn by John Holt
This book was first published in 1967 as a companion volume to the earlier How Children Fail
Blog PostThoughts on Schooling
Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 26 May 2004
BookHow Children Fail (1964) by John Holt
How Children Learn (1967) by John Holt
PersonIvan Illich (1926 - 2002)
John Holt (1923 - 1985) American Educator
QuotationOn children and learning by John Holt (1923 - 1985) American Educator
On teachers and delusion by John Holt (1923 - 1985) American Educator
On the curious child by John Holt (1923 - 1985) American Educator
On trying to force a child by John Holt (1923 - 1985) American Educator
Quotations from How Children Learn:
We teachers - perhaps all human beings - are in the grip of an astonishing delusion. We think that we can take a picture, a structure, a working model of something, constructed in our minds out of long experience and familiarity, and by turning that model into a string of words, transplant it whole into the mind of someone else.
Perhaps once in a thousand times, when the explanation is extraordinary good, and the listener extraordinary experienced and skillful at turning word strings into non-verbal reality, and when the explainer and listener share in common many of the experiences being talked about, the process may work, and some real meaning may be communicated.
Most of the time, explaining does not increase understanding, and may even lessen it.
The child is curious. He wants to make sense out of things, find out how things work, gain competence and control over himself and his environment, and do what he can see other people doing. He is open, perceptive, and experimental. He does not merely observe the world around him, He does not shut himself off from the strange, complicated world around him, but tastes it, touches it, hefts it, bends it, breaks it. To find out how reality works, he works on it. He is bold. He is not afraid of making mistakes. And he is patient. He can tolerate an extraordinary amount of uncertainty, confusion, ignorance, and suspense ... School is not a place that gives much time, or opportunity, or reward, for this kind of thinking and learning.
If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him.
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