Wednesday, November 30, 2005

John Holt Quotes

A friend sent me some John Holt quotes today. These are my two favorites from the ones she sent me.

On a major issue that some parents either don't know about:
"...the anxiety children feel at constantly being tested, their fear of failure, punishment, and disgrace, severely reduces their ability both to perceive and to remember, and drives them away from the material being studied into strategies for fooling teachers into thinking they know what they really don't know."
Source: How Children Learn

This is so true!"The true test of intelligence is not how much we know how to do, but how to behave when we don't know what to do"
Source: How Children Fail

This is very true, especially in adulthood. Think of how you or other adults react when they don't know something. Do they teach themself, research, and seek answers? Do they not seek answers and just stay in ignorance? Do they take the easy way out by 'asking an expert' but never questioning it or getting a second opinion? Do they take some non-expert's advice?

On what drives us:
"Education... now seems to me perhaps the most authoritarian and dangerous of all the social inventions of mankind. It is the deepest foundation of the modern slave state, in which most people feel themselves to be nothing but producers, consumers, spectators, and 'fans,' driven more and more, in all parts of their lives, by greed, envy, and fear. My concern is not to improve 'education' but to do away with it, to end the ugly and antihuman business of people-shaping and to allow and help people to shape themselves."
source: How Children Fail

You may not want to belive this is true. I really do think it is true. More and more our American society is turning into mindless consumers who live their lives in reaction mode, rather than being self-sufficient, living with a goal and a purpose, and living in a proactive mode.

I never finished "Freedom and Beyond" but I did read each of John Holt's other books cover to cover. I am a huge fan of John Holt and his writings were very influential in my decision to homeschool. He opened my eyes to 'what is wrong with school' as an institution.

I also LOVED James Herndon's books about the problem of institutional schooling, especially, "The Way It's Spozed to Be".


Creators said...

I agree with so much that you have put in your post, but do not feel the test of intelligence is how we behave when we don't know what to do, i.e. holding our hands up to our ignorance and doing something about it, but whether we understand what we do know enough to use it across the broader spectrum of our lives in constructive and useful ways. How we behave in our ignorance depends on too many things other then intelligence, fear, humility, shame, and so on.

I wish you well in home tutoring and wish more parents would dare to do it and help challenge state education for the monster it is.


christinemm said...

Keith I have been thinking about what you wrote and would love to hear more of your thoughts.

Example: If a person is told they now have Cancer and they are a smoker and advised to quit smoking, is their refusal to do so showing a lack of intelligence or not? I'd say yes.

Is it that you are thinking of intelligence in a certain defined way such as what is measured on an IQ test? If that is the case then many 'emotional' type of issues which influence our daily decisions may not be tested or 'scored'.

Perhaps I am using the word intelligence in a more broad sense?

I am trying to think of examples of non-action due to shame or fear which would apply.

You have me pondering!!

There is a great book "Adversity Quotient" which attempts to put emotional elements into the overall discussion of intelligence. The authors were wondering how some people rise above difficult circumstances to achieve much while others in the same situation with different emotions are unable to rise up and flourish in life. The authors, from what I recall, were trying to say that 'intelligence' alone as it is defined by IQ tests is not the full picture of how people act out their lives, about how they succeed or don't succeed, etc. I have not read the book since it first came out but now I might just re-read it. Have you heard of that book or read it?

Creators said...

Hi Christinemm, thanks for your post on my Blog, I'll reply on site.

Intelligence itself is a massive issue and in modern education is still barely understood so how 'they' can be so adamant about education I do not know. In the UK, state education is in utter turmoil and it leaves me holding my head in horror and despair.

I am a long term campaigner for person centred education, that is education fitted to the needs of the individual and not the individual fitting the prescribed education model. Firstly education is about encouraging the habit of enquiry: enable and give someone the space to be hungry to know things and nothing will hold them back. Babies, healthy and whole, are amazing learning machines. No one teaches a baby to learn, they just suck life in and learn an entire language with the first two years of life as well as everything else that's going on, learning to walk, eat with utensils, explore an entire new world pre and post language and so on. So, for me, the question is, what stops that? We live in societies that are success based, success is rewarded and failure, getting things wrong, is proscribed. We do not punish a toddler for falling over, so why then start doing that after a certain age? Scientific method is a process of elimination, and experimentation is about failing again and again until our hypothesis is proved either valid or invalid. The process of failure (what word can I use?) is vital to the learning process, without it we are doomed to forever fail.

Interesting what you say about the smoker. I would not think, in the first instance, that someone with Cancer not giving up smoking had anything to do with their level of intelligence. I'd be asking why they were not able to make such a decision? These days no one can be entirely ignorant of the harm smoking does so the issue, for me, is about the emotional/psychological attachment to smoking and the issues that underlie the need to smoke. Many problems that we encounter these days do not submit to reason, partly because the issues are to complex for us to process, but also because our emotions exist outside of rationality. We may say it is reasonable for someone to be angry about some(whatever)thing, but dealing with and processing the anger is not something that can be logically approached. Each and every situation is unique. So whilst I might (under particular circumstances) applaud someone who vents her anger at her husbands infidelity by pouring paint over his car, I would definitely not suggest that as a course of action for a child frustrated with a teacher under any circumstances.

I was not trying to define intelligence as I really wouldn't know how to define it, though you, in turn, have got me thinking. On the subject of intelligence tests, we had an interesting situation with our daughter who was given an intelligence test as a young child. The tester reported to us that she thought our child might be learning disabled. Fortunately we didn't walk away head in hands at having a disabled daughter, we asked the person on what basis she thought our daughter had a problem? She told us that our daughter had been unable to identify a joint of meat which concerned her greatly. We pointed out that as vegetarians our daughter had probably never seen a joint of meat, or if she had, had never had it identified as such. In the situation it was not our daughters intelligence I was concerned about but the person running the test and whether she was actually fit to do the job.

I have not read "Adversity Quotient", but from what you have written it sounds like my cup of tea, I'll look it up. I would certainly agree intelligence is not the full picture, being only one of a spectrum of issues affecting why people fail or succeed in life.

Omg, massive response. Keith.