let's play


One of the books I’ve been dying to finish is John Holt’s Learning All The Time. I picked up the name after doing a bit of research on the matter of learning. Not the ABC 123 kind of learning but a different kind. The honest kind. The no pressure kind.

Now Georgie’s becoming more and more aware of his surroundings and beginning to need more stimulation, I worry that what I am providing is not enough. I hear about parents teaching their kids to recite the alphabet by the age of two! This scares me. Not just because it’s feckin freaky but also because I secretly feel inadequate and stupid for allowing my child to play with the dog instead of shoving a book up his nose. I’m not belittling anyone here but that just doesn’t seem natural to me. The same way the schooling system doesn’t. Why are we making learning an obligation instead of a basic instinct?

John Holt pretty much backs up that statement. His view on the insensitive way children are taught is original and logical. Why correct mistakes your child makes in his writing or reading? Would you like it if someone corrected you a thousand times a day? How about if you were learning a new language? How rotten would you feel? If you are interested in what you are doing, will you not stumble upon it again and realize you had made a mistake? The idea is to build your children’s worlds around whatever it is you want them to do. It isn’t just about picture books. It’s about signs, newspapers, magazines, maps, ticket stubs. It isn’t just an hour of getting creative. It’s about finding creativity in everything you do. Allow your child’s eyes to be bathed in print and he will learn. Allow him to be adventurous and full of fantasy. But don’t put a load on it. Don’t make it heavy or serious or pressing.

He says: I can sum up in five to seven words what I eventually learned as a teacher. The seven-word version is: Learning is not the product of teaching. The five-word version is: teaching does not make learning. Organised education operates on the assumption that children learn only when and only what and only because we teach them. This is not true. It is very close to one hundred percent false.”

Liking education to a bottling plant or canning factory is scary. But in my heart I know it’s true.

I will be reading more on the matter very soon. Pity homeschooling is actually illegal in Cyprus…

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