Is anyone else NOT a J. Holt fan? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-08-2009, 12:10 AM
 
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okay. i just read it. i'm really floored. i couldn't read beyond page 99 though for some reason at amazon. it says the book was written in 1964, which isn't very long ago, so i don't see the era as being an excuse for his opinions. seriously, even my mainstream father had more sense than that in 1964. i trust page 100 & beyond though (as stated previously) begin to drive home what his point was in the first place.

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Old 02-08-2009, 12:14 AM
 
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I was able to read it all on Google books. I'd suggest using the bar to jump as close to 96 as you can and then work from there. (I think they allow only a limited number of pages so you want to start close to where you want to read). The first few pages of it are entirely different than the later pages of the section.
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Old 02-08-2009, 12:14 AM
 
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He used the term "unschooling" to refer to unstructured learning. He also used the words "school" and "School" to refer to places of learning and institutions of learning. He knew that the schools he worked in were not the ideal places to learn, and that parents could do a better job. He did not even like the concept of "School" as described in "Summerhill" because it was a "School". Summerhill described a School first in Germany and then in the 1920s in England.

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Old 02-08-2009, 12:43 AM
 
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I'm not going to defend what or how he said what he said, but as another pp wrote, learning disabilities were not recognized at this time. I don't think he even wrote about dyslexia, but "number and word blindness." Remembering that his first books were published over 40 years ago, medicine and psychology have change *a lot* since then. And his thoughts were pretty revolutionary at the time as child psychology wasn't a very broad field at all, and education was still operating under a "fill the empty vessel" kind of mentality. If a child disobeyed, it was common place to spank and other types of more severe punishment was expected. Children who were severely disabled were often institutionalized for life - and parents went along with "this is the best thing for you and your child." If anything, Holt challenged people to reconsider their traditional views *at that time* by offering his observations and his opinions. As with most information I read or view, especially info. that is not current, I take the good with the bad. This passage disturbed me as well, but since I often read critically, I mentally discarded it as being not very relevant to today's world. There are a lot of classical fiction novels that are equally disturbing in many ways, but they're still classics.


This. I cringed when reading the passage but definitely considered it context of a different time, kind of like Weston Price's "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration" references to primitives/"savages".

I thought his insights and ideas, for the most part, where startlingly eye-opening. It was obvious he cared about children and was passionate about education. Like the pp, I try to weed through this type of thing. It was a different time and I didn't think the passage was written with malice or hatred.
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Old 02-08-2009, 01:45 AM
 
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I have a problem with patriarchy, just in general. All these guys telling us what to do...Alfie Kohn, John Holt, The Sears'.

I would be a great parent is I wasn't one (John Holt) and a better parent if I were away most of the time giving lectures on parenting or locked up in my study writing books while my wife watched the kids for me (Sears' and Kohn).
ITA! I couldn't get through Holt's books or Alfie Kohn Unconditional Parenting - he p*ssed me off within the first few pages IIRC!!
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Old 02-08-2009, 01:56 AM
 
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I've never particularly been a Holt follower, even though I've appreciated so much that he's had to say about the nature of learning. But I think he just did a lousy job of articulating what he meant, and it's too bad someone didn't point it out and challenge him about it at the time.

I think he was making clumsy observations about the natural human happiness that had been trained out of her - that an animal hasn't been made to feel fearful and uncomfortable about being itself, behaving naturally, expressing itself spontaneously - an animal might not have the intellectual capacity of the average child, but it's able to be a thing of beauty in its own rite - not in a state of stress and confusion about trying to behave in the expected ways. I think his point was that the child had an obvious mental impairment that limited her intellect, but was coming across distorted to the observer because of not being allowed the freedom to be herself. And he went on about that kind of thing for pages, expanding it to include children who did not have the kind of mental limitations she had. If you couldn't read beyond page 99, you really missed the point he was getting at. As I said earlier, I was stunned at first, but it made much more sense as I read.

And the use of the term "retarded" in 1964 - over 40 years ago - didn't have quite the same negative charge on it as it does now; it was in common usage as a term people didn't even realize was offensive. I think many people thought of it as just a word that meant intellectual growth hadn't been able to mature to the range normally associated with a person's age. But it eventually got taken over by the snarky culture of insults where it lives today.

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Old 02-08-2009, 01:30 PM
 
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The part of UUMom's post I bolded is a thought I have often had myself.

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I have a problem with patriarchy, just in general. All these guys telling us what to do...Alfie Kohn, John Holt, The Sears'.

I would be a great parent is I wasn't one (John Holt) and a better parent if I were away most of the time giving lectures on parenting or locked up in my study writing books while my wife watched the kids for me (Sears' and Kohn).

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Old 02-08-2009, 01:42 PM
 
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[quote=applejuice;13148550I think one male psychologist is worth two mommies.[/quote]



I think one mommy is worth about two dozen male psychologists ! (Unless the male psychologist is also a full-time SAHD with no babysitter available except on very rare occasions, who runs on fumes for years on end, and still manages to write a wonderful book. Is there one like that ? )

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Old 02-08-2009, 02:10 PM
 
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I appreciate what these men are saying. I've read everything by Holt and Kohn (not so much the sears stuff) and it's very compelling, and has influenced me in a postivie way.

But I think for some of these guys the philosphy takes presidence over the nitty gritty realities of daily parenting.

Years before I became a parent I read an article in Mothering by a woman who made board games for her kids. There was a photo of her kids playing a color game she made for them. It was sweet.

The next issue had a letter to the editor, by non other than John Holt who basically insulted this mother. He wrote it was a waste of her time to 'teach' colors and that children didn't need to play games to learn them. WHich is true.

But 100% lost on him was the person behond the game- a woman who was spending 24/7 with her kids and was basically finding enjoyable ways to spend their time together. It didn't harm them to play a color game and it seemed that she and the kids were enjoying each other's company. It was a cozy way to spend time together, not to mention she might have been a crafty type. One who simply enjoyed making games & toys for her kids.

John Holt dealt in philosophy and (and a good dose of judging mothers) and not in the nitty gritty reality of being a parent.
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Old 02-08-2009, 02:25 PM
 
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UUMom, thanks so much for sharing this perspective. I have read only a small bit of Holt, and I will probably go on to read more. I do feel some of what he wrote, and some of what he inspired others to do and then go on to write about, has influenced me in a positive way. But I think it is always advisable to take the offerings of any "expert" with a grain of salt.....and I find it helpful when the grain of salt has someone's specific experience or perspective tied to it.

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Years before I became a parent I read an article in Mothering by a woman who made board games for her kids. There was a photo of her kids playing a color game she made for them. It was sweet.

The next issue had a letter to the editor, by non other than John Holt who basically insulted this mother. He wrote it was a waste of her time to 'teach' colors and that children didn't need to play games to learn them. WHich is true.

But 100% lost on him was the person behond the game- a woman who was spending 24/7 with her kids and was basically finding enjoyable ways to spend their time together.

DS1 March 2003DS2 Sept 2005,
and 3 , in our happy secular
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Old 02-08-2009, 02:39 PM
 
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I appreciate what these men are saying. I've read everything by Holt and Kohn (not so much the sears stuff) and it's very compelling. Veyr much and has influenced me in a postivie way.

But I think for some of these guys the philosphy takes presidence over the nitty gritty realities of daily parenting.

Years before I became a parent I read an article in Mothering by a woman who made board games for her kids. There was a photo of her kids playing a color game she made for them. It was sweet.

The next issue had a letter to the editor, by non other than John Holt who basically insulted this mother. He wrote it was a waste of her time to 'teach' colors and that children didn't need to play games to learn them. WHich is true.

But 100% lost on him was the person behond the game- a woman who was spending 24/7 with her kids and was basically finding enjoyable ways to spend their time together. It didn't harm them to play a color game and it seemed that she and the kids were enjoying each other's company. It was a cozy way to spend time together, not to mention she might have been a crafty type. One who simply enjoyed making games & toys for her kids.

John Holt dealt in philosophy and (and a good dose of judging mothers) and not in the nitty gritty reality of being a parent.
Wow , yeah ITA with what you are saying here. When I read punished by rewards , by Kohn, I had a similar reaction. I really liked what the book was saying and I definitely got it, as we don't use punishment reward system here. I also really liked what he had to say on the negative effect of giving rewards for works of charity , on the other hand I think that he could be over the top and parent/teacher blaming on the praise issue. I think that genuine praise is fine.I think that by really following that book I wouldn't be authentic in my relationship with my child, some praise is genuine and spontaneous, and I won't curb that just because someone said it may be bad kwim?

I think there is a good point made here about 24/7 parenting homeschooling and the difference between that and writing a philosophical book that I really believe often gets either radical or exaggerates in the author's attempt(whatever author) to drive home some point in their philosophy. I think they can get over zealous and sometimes step on the toes of those who are really in the trenches, that is to say the sahps who are involved in the education of individual children on a day in day out year in year out basis.

I also really enjoyed The Well Trained Mind , but took some of the things said in there by the author with a BIG grain of salt. Namely that someone thinking about structured curriculum or Classical would have to distance themselves from unschoolers. Sorry but I am friends with a family that is on the more radical side of unschooling and we have never had problems.I also didn't agree with some things said about children and their own creativity in the younger years . I forget exactly what it was, I'd have to get the book down but I recall shaking my head.

Either way I strongly believe in taking what you need from a philosophy and leaving the rest if it isn't going to work for your individual family. I think in the end the journey is about finding harmony within your own family and for your individual children .

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Old 02-08-2009, 04:13 PM
 
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I think one mommy is worth about two dozen male psychologists ! (Unless the male psychologist is also a full-time SAHD with no babysitter available except on very rare occasions, who runs on fumes for years on end, and still manages to write a wonderful book. Is there one like that ? )
You are correct. I got the math wrong.

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Old 02-08-2009, 09:54 PM
 
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I use these authors, pyschologists and many others as resources. In general, I find I do what I do based on what my parents did or did not do, what I feel is right in my gut and what I have learned from years of reading. One of greatest resources is my dear friend Faith. It is difficult to so greatly disagree with someone and yet find other parts of their books/teachings relevant. I struggle with this all the time. Sometimes I agree to disagree and sometimes I throw the book across the room.


I met Kohn and really he is more down to earth in person than he comes across in his book(s).

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Old 02-08-2009, 11:24 PM
 
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I use these authors, pyschologists and many others as resources. In general, I find I do what I do based on what my parents did or did not do, what I feel is right in my gut and what I have learned from years of reading. One of greatest resources is my dear friend Faith. It is difficult to so greatly disagree with someone and yet find other parts of their books/teachings relevant. I struggle with this all the time. Sometimes I agree to disagree and sometimes I throw the book across the room.


I met Kohn and really he is more down to earth in person than he comes across in his book(s).
I've heard Kohn speak a couple of times, and he is very personable. I also know someone who met Holt several times at hsing venues and really enjoyed him.
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Old 02-08-2009, 11:42 PM
 
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At the HomeSchool Association of CA's big homeschooling conference in Sacramento awhile back, Kohn got a standing ovation after his talk. So did Gordon Neufeld. - Lillian

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Old 02-09-2009, 03:42 PM
 
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I never did answer the OP's question. I *am* a Holt fan. I might not agree with all he wrote, but I very much appreciate his work.
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Old 02-09-2009, 04:01 PM
 
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At the HomeSchool Association of CA's big homeschooling conference in Sacramento awhile back, Kohn got a standing ovation after his talk. So did Gordon Neufeld. - Lillian

Ok, here's some heresy. I am *not* a much of Nuefeld fan. I can't see how unschooling philosophy and Nuefeld philosphy can coexist.

Neufeld is all about family control and I am not about control.

There I said it.
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Old 02-09-2009, 04:36 PM
 
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Ok, here's some heresy. I am *not* a much of Nuefeld fan. I can't see how unschooling philosophy and Nuefeld philosphy can coexist.

Neufeld is all about family control and I am not about control.

There I said it.
Well, I haven't read his books or heard him speak, so I have no idea what got people all fired up at that conference. It's been accused in the past by some of being too "unschoolish," so go figure... - Lillian
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Old 02-09-2009, 06:53 PM
 
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Well, I haven't read his books or heard him speak, so I have no idea what got people all fired up at that conference. It's been accused in the past by some of being too "unschoolish," so go figure... - Lillian

I think he could be consdiered anti-school, but that's not the same as being an "unschooler'.

I do think his observations re hurting and harmed kids is compelling. He's worked with some pretty emotionally damaged children and families.
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Old 02-10-2009, 12:54 AM
 
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You know, books like this are like a chinese food buffet...take what you like and leave the rest. Some of Holt's stuff is really, really good. And it impresses me to no end that after 20 years in the public school system, his conclusion was that parents were the people best equipped to educate their own children. And this was in the 60s. How many of us have, in RECENT years, been confronted by people who think that we are unqualified to educate our children beyond the age of 3, 4, or 5?? He was a radical man with radical ideas, but he was a man. A single man without children who learned everything he could about children by watching them and was mostly really enlightened in the process. But obviously not all the time.

But to write off everything he ever wrote because of one (or a few) terribly worded, awkward and mean passages...c'mon. If you do that, you lose so much wisdom that he has to offer in other areas. So read his stuff, and take what you like and use it, but leave the rest to die on the pages of the book without a second thought.

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Old 02-10-2009, 02:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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And it impresses me to no end that after 20 years in the public school system, his conclusion was that parents were the people best equipped to educate their own children. And this was in the 60s. How many of us have, in RECENT years, been confronted by people who think that we are unqualified to educate our children beyond the age of 3, 4, or 5?? He was a radical man with radical ideas, but he was a man. A single man without children who learned everything he could about children by watching them and was mostly really enlightened in the process. But obviously not all the time.

But to write off everything he ever wrote because of one (or a few) terribly worded, awkward and mean passages...c'mon. If you do that, you lose so much wisdom that he has to offer in other areas. So read his stuff, and take what you like and use it, but leave the rest to die on the pages of the book without a second thought.
To answer your question about being confronted by people . . .for the most part, this has not been my experience. Thankfully, I grew up with non-traditional people. My mom, based on her experience as a teacher and her friendship with Ivan Illich, sees the need for and value in homeschooling. AFAIK, he was radical without being disrespectful to others. I'd rather stick to reading works by people like him.

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Old 02-11-2009, 04:05 PM
 
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Old 02-16-2009, 02:39 AM
 
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I have a problem with patriarchy, just in general. All these guys telling us what to do...Alfie Kohn, John Holt, The Sears'.

I would be a great parent is I wasn't one (John Holt) and a better parent if I were away most of the time giving lectures on parenting or locked up in my study writing books while my wife watched the kids for me (Sears' and Kohn).
I completely agree with you.

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