Friday, April 20, 2012

John Holt

Apparently, he also started a magazine
popular amoung the unschooling set - Growing
Withought Schooling. It's referenced
many times in his books.
Over the past few weeks, I've been reading John Holt's books in between others. It's actually kind of strange because this is a topic that I don't need to know about and his stand is one I actually disagree with.

You see, it all started when I borred some G. A. Henty books from my aunt. They were printed by a homeschooling family (they espouse a particular method), so being bored, I went online and researched a bit about it. Before I knew it, I was reading about it's complete opposite: unschooling. And the founder of unschooling would be John Holt. So, in order of published dates, here are the books that I actually read:

How Children Fail
How Children Learn
Escape From Childhood
Instead of Education
Teach Your Own
Learning All The Time

Interestingly enough, when I trace the way his mind thinks, I can actually see his thoughts become more and more radical. The first two books: How Children Fail and How Children Learn seemed like sensible books to me. He used a lot of examples (especially in How Children Fail) that convinced me he knew what he was talking about. Still, I wondered if what he described was an uniquely American problem. I didn't recall having similar problems with math, but then again, I was taught to use an abacus when young (it's a very useful and fun skill to have).

I consider Escape From Childhood the most 'radical' book of the lot, mostly because it deals with children's rights instead of focusing on education. To me, that's his biggest mistake. He is, first and foremost, a teacher, which is why I respect his opinions on teaching. But for this book, I simply wasn't convinced. And why should I be? What I remember of my childhood isn't like what he describes.

The last three books deal with education and the necessity of schools (he argues otherwise). I'm not sure how the first book (which dealt with how children failed to learn math) led to the notion of unschooling. Frankly speaking, even though there were times that I didn't like school, I'm still glad that I went. If I went entirely by my own interests, I wouldn't have learnt anything. In fact, I may never have graduate from Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl (but to be fair, Roald Dahl's pretty dark, although it may take a while to realise that). School was a place that exposed me to subjects that I didn't think I'd like, but either did or appreciated knowing.

Maybe it's all in the teachers. Up till now, most of my teachers were overwhelmingly supportive. And for the scarce few that weren't good (in my opinion anyway), I was fortunate to actually like the subject, and so find teachers that could teach (my school was fine with students looking for other teachers after classes). As for the subjects that I'm not good at and have little interest, most teachers managed to spark an interest and give me the needed understanding so that when it comes up in relation to another subject, I can understand what it means.

All in all, school has been a positive experience for me. I guess that's why in the end, the whole unschooling movement and the writings of John Holt have left me unconvinced.

No comments :

Post a Comment

I really do appreciate all comments, and I'll try my best to reply within 24 hours!