How Teaching Interferes with Learning

“A growing number of parents are seeing the light of children’s brilliance and are choosing to allow it to shine. Eventually, I think, we will reach a tipping point, where the rate of school-leaving accelerates sharply. Then what we now call standard schooling will die of irrelevance, replaced by centers designed to optimize children’s natural ways of learning (see here or here).

Holt was an astute and brilliant observer of children. If he had studied some species of animal, instead of human children, we would call him a naturalist. He observed children in their natural, free — might I even say wild — condition, where they were not being controlled by a teacher in a classroom or an experimenter in a laboratory. This is something that far too few developmental psychologists or educational researchers have done. He became close to and observed the children of his relatives and friends when they were playing and exploring, and he observed children in schools during breaks in their formal lessons. Through such observations, he came to certain profound conclusions about children’s learning. Here is a summary of them, which I extracted from the pages of How Children Learn.”

• Children don’t choose to learn in order to do things in the future. They choose to do right now what others in their world do, and through doing they learn.