"Can a child have a vested interest in failure?" Holt
"Overcome children's fear of saying what they don't understand, and keep explaining until they do (cont) http://tl.gd/6q4cej
This is getting to become a cliche for Twitter Book Club. Over and over again we have authors who were writing 40-100 years ago telling us that we are doing it wrong and explaining exactly why. But, we still have the same problem. The school system is stubborn. I am beginning to think that the way to change schools is to change society and not the other way around. Those who do things that are progressive and actually work usually get in trouble and are in one way or another removed from their place of influence. This is likely because the societal majority doesn't like having a mirror shown to it, especially one that highlights its flaws. Today everyone is so whipped up and frantic about the need to change and change quickly that we end up passing high-stakes reform measures that lead school leaders to pass poor judgment. Instead of fixing the course correction our schools should have made in the 1930s-40s and making schools relevant and real places of learning we end up with more of the same "Teach Harder" crap that doesn't work.
"Most of us have very imperfect control over our attention. Our minds slip away from duty before we realize that they are gone." Holt
This is an interesting metacognitive observation. I find this to be true for myself at times as well.
"Part of being a good student is learning to be aware of that state of one's own mind and the degree of one's own understanding." Holt
"A teacher who asks a question is tuned to the right answer, ready to hear it, eager to hear it, since it (cont) http://tl.gd/6q4kq0
Teacher questioning is one of John Holt's key observations about teaching and learning so it is worth repeating this quote in full:
"A teacher who asks a question is tuned to the right answer, ready to hear it, eager to hear it, since it will tell him that his teaching is good and that he can go on to the next topic. He will assume that anything that sounds close to the right answer is meant to be the right answer. So, for a student who is not sure of the answer, a mumble may be his best bet. If he's not sure whether something is spelled with an a or an o, he writes a letter that could be either one of them." Holt
I must admit that I used this strategy a lot. Having dysgraphia I was already a poor handwriter so no one would notice the difference between my o's or my a's. The same was true with many other letters. Of course, I would occasionally get a frustrated teacher who did not understand my disability and circle everything she thought was a mistake. I often thought that my teachers must have had a separate budget just for the red ink they used on my papers. But, 4/5 times this strategy worked for hiding my spelling errors.
"I find myself coming to realize that what hampers their thinking, what drives them into these narrow and (cont) http://tl.gd/6q4rd5
Reminds me of this video:
"A teacher in a class is like a man in the woods at night with a powerful flashlight in his hand. Wherever (cont) http://tl.gd/6q510g
This is sobering:
"A teacher in a class is like a man in the woods at night with a powerful flashlight in his hand. Wherever he turns his light, the creatures on whom it shines are aware of it, and do not behave as they do in the dark. Thus the mere fact of his watching their behavior changes it into something very different. Shine where he will, he can never know very much of the night life of the woods." Holt
"[Classroom observers] make the mistake of watching the teacher too much and the children too little." Holt
"If we look at children only to see whether they are doing what we want or don't want them to do, we are (cont) http://tl.gd/6q53qi
"When, without any very great plan in mind, I began to allow more and more time during the school day for (cont) http://tl.gd/6q56oi
This is one of my favorite passages in this book. It highlights exactly why it is so important to build relationships with students. It too is worth repeating in full:
"When, without any very great plan in mind, I began to allow more and more time during the school day for my students to talk to and do things with each other, I began to learn enough about them, their experiences and ideas and interests, so that I could see some ways to make the classroom a more useful place for them. They had to teach me before I could begin to teach them.I think any teacher who takes the time to know their students has a similar story. I also think this is one of the great strengths of programs like art where students are afforded plenty of time where they can be productively working on something while engaging in informal conversation. I never understood art teachers who wouldn't let their students talk while working on projects. I would get nervous whenever it was too quiet in my classroom.
Thus, when I learned, from hearing her talk to her friends, that one of my students loved horses, I was able to help her with her 'reading problem' by putting within her reach a copy of National Velvet. She loved it, as I thought she would, and her love for the story and the people in it gave her the desire and strength to overcome her 'reading problem'—which was mostly the fear that she really couldn't learn to read, and the shame she would feel if this proved to be so." Holt
"Children in school are like children at the doctor's. He can talk himself blue in the face about how much (cont) http://tl.gd/6q5a59
"It is not the teacher's proper task to be constantly testing and checking the understanding of the (cont) http://tl.gd/6q5buu
Again, another important quote about questions worth repeating:
"It is not the teacher's proper task to be constantly testing and checking the understanding of the learner. That's the learner's task, and only the learner can do it. The teacher's job is to answer questions when learners ask them, or to try to help learners understand better when they ask for that help." HoltAlso, here is a video I found a few weeks ago of Holt giving a talk about questions vs quizzes:
"a couple of years later, when I put a balance beam and some weights on a table at the back of my class, (cont) http://tl.gd/6qjejf
"They have not learned how to learn from a mistake, or even that learning from mistakes is possible." Holt
"What I did not see until later was that we, our classroom, our position as teachers, which is to say, (cont) http://tl.gd/6qjkbv
"how might I help make a class in which children, free of danger from me and each other, might once again, (cont) http://tl.gd/6qjm8i
When reading this last quote I began to get a little emotional. It at once brought back memories of what it used to be like sitting in a classroom in fear of getting a wrong answer, in fear of the judgment of both my teachers and my classmates and made me feel guilt for the times when I have perhaps been less than cognizant of this fact with students in my own classroom or with my own children at home. It also shines a light on my own relationships and a need I have always felt to please my parents, make them proud. This statement cuts too close to the quick for me.