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John Holt

Instead of Education

Learning has to be useful to us in order to be remembered at all.

  • Gimmicks and tricks do not help at all.
  • Children are plenty curious on their own.
  • Kids really only learn when they come boldly, confidently, and eagerly to the learning.

Why can we only learn from a school, from lectures?

Why should one learn to read before they want/discover the need to? It is their own consquence if they do not.

“History is the act of asking questions about certain aspects of the past.”

Knowledge is a process in the minds of living people. It is what we do as we try to find out who and where we are, and what is going on around us.

Berlitz Language Schools

“Nor do they say that their schools are best because they are the hardest to get into”

No teacher is fired for hiding the truth from children, but many are fired for telling the truth.

Maps put up to help strangers get around in cities have on them an arrow and the words, “You are here.” Without that, the maps are useless.

A difficult art, the art of the t-eacher, of answering questions, of saying enough but not too much. (Answer the question that is asked you, and no more. And be content with that, because the other person is not ready to hear more yet)

This is a terrible temptation for ambitious T-eachers. They are always looking for some interest in their students to exploit for their own purposes. Even as I think about those first-graders, the thought comes, had I only been in that class a few more weeks, or months, perhaps the children, working “on their own” and helped every few days by a nudge from me, might have sailed through three, or five, or who knows how many years of the Math curriculum. What a tale that would have been! Holt the Miracle Worker! This is the seductive, dangerous vanity of the person in love with teaching…But children move into the world by great leaps here and there, spasms of exploration and activity mixed with long periods of reflection. Most likely those eager inventors and solvers of problems would have tired of their mathematical research after a while and switched to something else. And if I had begun to take too great an interest in their work, to nudge too often, they would surely have sensed this—probably before I did— and drawn back, feeling that somehow the project was no longer theirs but mine.

He regularly has them comment on each other's papers <encouraging them that they are good critics>, with this important limitation, that for the first few months of the course, until they gain confidence in themselves and each other, they can only talk about the things they like.

Very few of those who fail English in school really believe they are good writers. Very few of those who get A's believe it, either. And indeed, very few are.

As someone else put it, “There are very severe penalties for being a bad student but no penalties at all for being a bad teacher.”

If he <Illich> is going to enter into an inferior-superior relationship with another person, in which one is dependent on the other, he wants it clearly understood when, for how long, under what conditions, and for what purposes this relationship will go on. Part of what he means by the convivial society is a society in which people talk and relate as equals, except in those special situations in which they have agreed they will relate in another way.

Giving A Talk

  • He only discusses things he hasn't already written down.
  • He only talks about things that he wants to talk about, fee or not.
  • He only talks to groups who genuinely want to know what he is saying.
    • But if it turns out that they want to discuss with me something that I am interested in and like to talk about, I may say, “Before we talk, there are some things I must ask you to read. There are ideas in them that I think are important for our discussion, and since they have already been written down, I don't want to take time at our meeting to talk about them. Instead, sharing those ideas, we can go on from there.”

you can only understand a textbook when you are at the point where you almost don't need to read it, where it helps you comprehend (if it is any good) some higher-order connections among things you separately have already worked your way through or around.

The children could have learned by themselves everything he <John Holt> was trying to teach them.

The reason Acuitus does so well is that their students are confident they could figure out/learn whatever was thrown at them.

john_holt.txt · Last modified: 2017/09/15 17:58 (external edit)