Learning

12 John Holt Quotes on home education and our role as parents.

A collection of quotes by John Holt exploring the role of parents in home education. Enjoy…

“If I had to make a general rule for living and working with children, it might be this: be wary of saying or doing anything to a child that you would not do to another adult, whose good opinion and affection you valued.”

“What children want and need from us is thoughtful attention. They want us to notice them and pay some kind of attention to what they do, to take them seriously, to trust and respect them as human beings.”

“Most of what they [children] need, parents have been giving them since they were born … they need access. They need a chance, sometimes, for honest, serious, unhurried talk; or sometimes, for joking, play, and foolishness; or sometimes, for tenderness, sympathy and comfort. They need, much of the time, to share your life, or at least, not to feel shut out of it, in short, to go some of the places you go, see and do some of the things that interest you, get to know some of your friends, find out what you did when you were little and before they were born. They need to have their questions answered, or at least heard and attended to – if you don’t know, say “I don’t know.”

“Since we can’t know what knowledge will be most needed in the future, it is senseless to try to teach it in advance. Instead, we should try to turn out people who love learning so much and learn so well that they will be able to learn whatever must be learned.”

“We can best help children learn, not by deciding what we think they should learn and thinking of ingenious ways to teach it to them, but by making the world, as far as we can, accessible to them, paying serious attention to what they do, answering their questions–if they have any–and helping them explore the things they are most interested in. The ways we can do this are simple and easily understood by parents and other people who like children and will take the trouble to pay some attention to what they do and think about what it may mean.”

“Don’t let your family get lost in your efforts to school your children. It’s easy to replace teachers, but not parents. Some parents burn out from homeschooling by trying to be demanding, “professional” teachers for some parts of the day, then sympathetic parents for other parts, and the stress of switching between these two roles becomes too burdensome. Be a loving parent to your children all the time.”

“Live together, as well as you can; enjoy life together, as much as you can. Ask questions to find out something about the world itself, not to find out whether or not someone knows it.”

“Of course, a child may not know what he may need to know in ten years (who does?) but he knows, and much better than anyone else, what he wants and needs to know right now, what his mind is ready and hungry for. If we help him, or just allow him, to learn that, he will remember it, use it, build on it. If we try to make him learn something else, that we think is more important, the chances are that he won’t learn it, or will learn very little of it, that he will soon forget most of what he learned, and what is worst of all, will before long lose most of his appetite for learning anything.”

“What children need is not new and better curricula but access to more and more of the real world; plenty of time and space to think over their experiences, and to use fantasy and play to make meaning out of them; and advice, road maps, guidebooks, to make it easier for them to get where they want to go (not where we think they ought to go), and to find out what they want to find out.”

“That’s not to say that children must discover everything unaided. We can help them in several ways. We can so arrange the materials put before them that discovery is made more likely. Real learning is a process of discovery, and if we want it to happen we must create the kinds of conditions in which discoveries are made. We know what these are. They include time, leisure, freedom and a lack of pressure.”

“There are a number of important reasons why I feel strongly that not correcting …‘mistakes’ is the proper thing to do. (1) Courtesy: if a distinguished person from a foreign country were visiting you, you would not correct every mistake he made in English, however much he might want to learn the language, because it would be rude. We do not think of rudeness or courtesy as being applicable to our dealings with very little children. But they are.”

” We can sum up very quickly what people need to teach their own children. First of all, they have to like them, enjoy their company, their physical presence, their energy, foolishness, and passion. They have to enjoy all their talk and questions, and enjoy equally trying to answer those questions. They have to think of their children as friends, indeed very close friends, have to feel happier when they are near and miss them when they are away. They have to trust them as people, respect their fragile dignity, treat them with courtesy, take them seriously. They have to feel in their own hearts some of their children’s wonder, curiosity, and excitement about the world. And they have to have enough confidence in themselves, skepticism about experts, and willingness to be different from most people, to take on themselves the responsibility for their children’s learning. But that is about all that parents need.”

Got a favourite one of these, or one I’ve missed? Feel free to share in the comments below. Happy day all 🙂



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