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John Holt:

personalised learning instead of ‘uninvited teaching’

by Roland Meighan £8.99 (inc UK pp) 978 1-9002119-23-9 (pp)

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John Holt died in 1985.  He had written ten books, many of them destined to become acknowledged classic works in education.  His work was translated into many languages.  At first, he was status quo content:
"I had no quarrel with traditional education.  If someone had said to me much of what I have said in this book, my answer would have been, 'Baloney!'  I agreed without question that students should be made to learn ..." 

John Holt found, as many of us have found, that formal teaching did not work very well.  Perhaps it was a technical matter.  Holt threw himself into lesson planning, teaching aids, evaluation lists.  It made some difference, but not much.  He decided to study the children to see the classroom from their point of view.  It led him to reverse his earlier position:

"I don't believe in the curriculum, I don't believe in grades, I don't believe in teacher-judged learning.  I believe in children learning with our assistance and encouragement the things they want to learn, when they want to learn them, how they want to learn them, why they want to learn them.  This is what, it seems to me, education must now be about."


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