How children learn, by John Holt


I've just finished John Holt's book, and as he stresses in the final lines and through the book, TRUST in children is his major plea. Do we think of children as empty vessels to be filled out with what we consider to be "THE KNOWLEDGE" to be put in their heads? Or do we see them as ever learning persons (as Charlotte Mason describes them too), who have a love for the world around them and are in constant search for meaning around them?

Holt raises some interesting and provoking questions such as "what is knowledge?" "Is there something they need to know, or we have to teach?"

I hear many say that they see mothers who educate at home that have no 'knowledge', and I ask, do teachers have a well rounded education? Do school districts have the ultimate answer in their curriculum to what children need to learn? Do teachers succeed in passing that proverbial knowledge to the children? Do we, parents, have a well rounded education? Schools and people treat knowledge as if it were an objective set of data or information, while in my family my husband and I aim more to wisdom than knowledge, and we understand education as a balance of more aspects than mere facts found in books. We focus on the children (and adults too) capacity to always QUESTION what they think. For us is also to be able to give an answer of the hope that lives in us. I see education as a continuous force that pulls us to learn, read, write, converse, help, act, live.

I opt to give the children a vote of confidence, to trust them as Mr. Holt does, and to be lead by their curiosity when it comes to 'educating' them. Giving children the trust is not an irresponsible act of leaving them to their whims or desires, it's just treating them as persons, and provide them with rich experiences, the best readings, reasoning with them and listening to them. Do not think the opposite to 'schools where they are taught' is being at home watching TV and eating ice cream, please. There is a way of being home with children, not doing drills and lectures, a path that is meaningful and that gives children a truly well rounded education. Hope you find it in the company of your children.

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