Thursday, 18 February 2010


This is a quote from John Holt;
"Children (like all people) will live better, learn more, and grow more able to cope with the world if they are not constantly bribed, wheedled, bullied, threatened, humiliated, and hurt; if they are not set endlessly against each other in a race which all but a few must lose; if they are not constantly made to feel incompetent, stupid, untrustworthy, guilty, fearful, and ashamed; if their interests, concerns, and enthusiasms are not ignored or scorned; and if instead they are allowed, encouraged, and (if they wish) helped to work with and help each other, to learn from each other, and to think, talk, write, and read about things that excite and interest them. In short, if they are able to explore the world in their own way, and in as many areas as possible direct and control their own lives."

Just in case you don't have the experience of going to a school, this is what he is describing in the first part of the quote.
  • Bribed - with a star, or sticker, and/or a word of praise, and/or certificate given in assembly, and/or time to choose an activity of choice (within limits given) for 'good', meaning compliant behaviour.
    - and all of the above along with a high grade for 'good' work. the child will get a good job, be successful if he does the work well.
  • Wheedled - ever heard a teacher encouraging a class to 'behave' and 'get on with their work'?
  • Bullied - Sent to Head Teacher or Principle's office for not complying, given detention, told to sit still and listen, not allowed to go to the toilet/have a drink of water, when needing to, not allowed to move from desk when needing to get up and stretch legs, having to sit in silence because the teacher insists on it.
  • Threatened with - being sent to the Head's office, being given detention, a letter home, not amounting to anything if the child does not comply with what the teacher wants him/her to do in the lesson. The child won't get a good job and be poor if he doesn't do the work well. The parents will go get fined or go to jail of the child does not attend school, (if the child is enrolled in that school).
  • Humiliated - when having to read something out loud and cannot pronounce the words, the teacher tells the child (so everyone can hear) that they have question 3 wrong, being chastised when all can hear.
  • Hurt - you fill in the blank

  • Herding a large number of children of the same age into a small space for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, does not seem to be the best way of helping children to become the type of adult you would wish them to become. If they are all at the same level of maturity, how can they help each other to grow emotionally? If most of them don't want to be there, it's likely they will act out their anger and feelings of dis-empowerment on those around them.

    This is why I have ceased to be a school teacher.