Saturday, September 13, 2008

How Children Learn

I read this book, by John Holt, long before I ever got around to reviewing it. You see, it is SUCH a WONDERFUL book that I wanted to give a great, perfect review, not just say that I thought it was great. This is a book with the power to change the way Americans think about education for the better, times a million. It contains story after story after story illustrating how smart kids really are, how little we give them credit for, how condescending we are in our ideas of "teaching" when really the children's learning is often in spite of us, and rarely because of us, at least in a traditional "schooling" setting, as well as when we're worried about teaching our babies everything on a timetable.

Here are two examples I noticed while reading this book. They really bother me:

1. Between the Lions on PBS "Makes reading fun" because of course reading is SO NOT FUN! um...wait...

2. A commercial for a new board game series...."children don't naturally share" but our games can make them learn how!

And here are a few brilliant quotes from the book itself:

"When they learn in their own way and for their own reasons, children learn so much more rapidly and effectively than we could possibly teach them, that we can afford to throw away our curricula and our timetables, and set them free, at least most of the time, to learn on their own." p. 156

"We make too much of the difficulties of learning to read. Teachers may say, 'But reading must be difficult, or so many children wouldn't have trouble with it.' I say that it is because we assume that it is so difficult that so many children have trouble with it. Our anxieties, our fears, and the ridiculous things we do to 'simplify' what is simple enough already, cause most of the trouble." p.157

"Children know all too well when people respect and trust them and when they don't..." p. 168 Talking about testing being unmeaningful: " most of the fifth-graders I taught did not know more than a small part of the mathematics that their test scores supposedly showed they knew, and regardless of their reading scores, only a handful really liked to read or would read unless made to."

Sorry for not making the review as good as the book! And oops, sorry it got in here so late!

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