Tuesday, April 19, 2016

How Children Fail

First published in the mid 1960s, How Children Fail began an education reform movement that continues today. In his 1982 edition, John Holt added new insights into how children investigate the world, into the perennial problems of classroom learning, grading, testing, and into the role of the trust and authority in every learning situation. His understanding of children, the clarity of his thought, and his deep affection for children have made both How Children Fail and its companion volume, How Children Learn, enduring classics.


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Customer Review

4 Stars
Facing Our Demons
By Maria Morales on April 24, 2000

This book with its simple format and language has opened my eyes to possibilities and perspectives that I simply never thought of. As an educator, I think everyone in the world of education should read. From policy-makers to administrators to teachers to school psychologists, and very specially, parents, we all owe it to our children and to ourselves to become informed and critical about the efficiency (or the lack thereof) of our educational system. Especially at times, such as now, when our children seem to be failing more than ever. Holt's observations, although limited to private schools, provide one with a solid view of what is happening in the world of teaching accross the board. Holt makes and answers questions that are not only relevant to his subject but vital to the development of better teaching. Holt's idea that we don't know enough about student-teacher relationships could not be more accurate. I know this because I am an educator. I agree with Holt when he says that it is time that we look beyond ourselves and our own interest and begin looking at students with respect. As an insider, I couldn't help blushing while reading the reasons that Holt gives for children's failure in school. I was only able to nod my head positively when he said that teachers aren't listening to their students because they are only listening to what they want to hear. Another reason children fail, according to Holt, is that they are not being intellectually challenged enough at school. The conclusion made by Holt makes plenty of sense. Teachers definitely need to make every effort to free their teaching from ambiguity, confusion and self-contradiction. Besides teachers, the pointing finger also points to standardized exams. Standardized exams, I agree with the author, do not make our children more knowledgeable. Holt's final verdict is clear and pungent: Students are failing because adults-teachers, administrators, parents, policy-makers, etc.-are not doing their jobs. Although not a pleasant thing to hear (especially for those of us who have chosen to dedicate our lives to the education of our young), I am personally grateful to Mr. Holt for taking a bold stand to face us with our demons.

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