Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Learning All the Time

Learning All the Time
by John Holt

This guy is pretty much the guru of the modern homeschooling movement, although he passed away in 1985. Here is the Amazon review for this book:

"If John Holt had his way, today's primers would be replaced with the large-print edition of The New York Times, cursive handwriting would fade into disuse, and talking "cutesy-wootsy" to children would be considered a criminal act. This highly opinionated former teacher and original thinker spent the last half of his life challenging widely accepted classroom practices. The author of 10 books that concentrate on early child development and education, Holt is widely considered the father of the modern-day homeschooling movement because he grew to believe that schools stifle the learning process. In this, his final book--compiled by colleagues from drafts, letters, and magazine essays written by Holt before he died in 1985--he strings together his own observations and philosophies to show how young children can be encouraged to learn everything from reading and math to music and science.

Holt's thoughts carry the power of common sense. One of his pet peeves: the silly, nonsensical rules of phonics drilled into schoolchildren today. One of those adages, found on the walls of many an elementary school classroom, goes, "When two vowels go out walking, the first one does the talking." Holt points out that two pairs of vowels in the sentence violate the rule. This is not only confusing to some children, but simply "dumb," he complains. He dismisses picture books and primers, with their small, simple vocabularies. In their place, Holt urges parents to expose children to the Yellow Pages, warranties, letters, ticket stubs, and newspapers--the print trappings that adults rely upon for everyday life. Holt's call for context amid learning is delivered in a sensible, delightful writing style. He even includes several graphics and number games that can easily be used at home. Anyone who comes in contact with a small child would benefit from--and enjoy--reading these last words from a man who clearly adored and remained mesmerized by children and their inquisitive minds."

I really enjoy John Holt's practical approach to education. Children will learn what they need to know to get by in life, and they will learn those things that peak their interest, regardless of whether we make them sit down and learn it. It's almost as though John Holt looks at education through fresh, untainted eyes. He observes children in learning situations, whether in school or in life, and comments about what he observes. Even though he is a teacher, he is not sold on formal teaching.

This is a good book for homeschool philosophy, particularly unschooling philosophy. It's another one that has added credibility because, after all, the author is also a teacher.

Oh, and he's written a bunch of other books.

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