Friday, February 22, 2008

My Booknotes: What Do I Do Monday?

I've been on a John Holt kick lately, started with his book, How Children Learn, because the library didn't have his more famous, How Children Fail.

His books are all from the 70s and I hope and pray the conditions in conventional schools he wrote about have changed, but I'm not so sure because it looks like he ended up in the Home School camp. He died in 1985.

Disclosure: I have yet to make any money off these Amazon Associates links. I highly recommend you try the library first, then even Paperback Swap, before you purchase any of my Booknotes selections.

Learning as Growth
  • "But the children have been learning , all the time, for all of their lives before they meet us. What is more, they are very likely to be much better at learning than mos of us who plan to teach them how to do it.
  • "There is no such thing as learning except (as Dewy tells us) in the continuum of experience. But this continuum cannot survive in the classroom unless there is a reality of encounter between the adults and the children. The teachers must be themselves, and not play roles. They must teach the children, and not teach 'subjects.'" - The Lives of Children, George Dennison
The World Belongs to All of Us
  • "The reason is simple, and the one Dennison has pointed out -- their schools and teachers have never told them, never encouraged them or even allowed them to think, that high culture, all those poems, novels, Shakespeare plays, etc. belonged to them or might belong to them, that they might claim it for their own, use it solely for their own purposes, for whatever joys and benefits they might get from it." - NY Times Review of Books about Dennison's book, explaining why kids dread Shakespeare.
Place and Identity
  • "But we have to start from here, the particular, individual here of each child and every child we work with."
  • "... we cannot be in the business of education and at the same time in the business of testing, grading, labeling, sorting, deciding who goes where and who gets what."
  • "What he found ... is that people go crazy because other people drive them crazy. His findings are horrifying because the things that people -- without meaning to -- make other people crazy by doing are very much like a great many things we do to children in schools." -- about psychiatrist Ronald Laing's book on schizophrenia, Self and Others.
  • "the invalidation of their experience" -- Laing's expression from The Politics of Experience. J. Holt: "... we say to the mentally ill that their ways of perceiving and experiencing the world, their ways of reacting to it and communicating about it, are crazy and have t o be canceled, wiped out, done away with. "
  • "In short, he has no sense of his identity or place. He is only where and what others tell him he is."

Continued on Part 2:

book list:
The Lives of Children, George Dennison


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