In his article “school is bad for children”, John Holt proffers his opinion that is formed from a very different angle altogether, on the issue of the present form of education as a virtue to children. The author curtly implies that the present mode of learning for young members of society would be more effective were it to undergo radical changes that would see it undergo total transformation if his suggestions are to be actually followed.
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John Holt states that children would be much better off learning the ways of the world through practical experience rather than sitting in a classroom which he calls “brick boxes”. The author states that by taking school children out into the world, more specifically to courtrooms, libraries, museums, radio stations et cetera, they would earn more hands-on experience that would enable them handle real life situations as this is what they would have encountered.
Conversely, the author also states that what a child learns in the period before they go to school is already a start in education that should be kept up since whatever they may learn later in school may not be of any help, the truth is that home learning and formal learning are two different aspects in that, at home the child only learns what they come across while in school the child will be exposed to a much wider variety of matters that may very well relate to issues that concern the world as a whole and may help in the future in cases where the child grows up and has to relocate to distant regions for instance to work.
According to Kirszner and Mandell (2010), we should abolish the fixed, required curriculum. People remember only what is interesting and useful to them, what helps them make sense of the world, or helps them get along in it. All else they forget quickly (Kirszner & Mandell, 2010).
This is not true since if applied to children, they will need guidelines how they may live their lives in this world and this is offered through the curriculum which manages to cover diverse topics.
Another issue that Holt overlooks is the fact that people have diverse interests which may not be necessarily accessible to them in his ideal world, for example, if a child is really good at issues relating to wildlife and the environment yet he is brought up in New York, and at the same time another is very good at statistics or mathematics which he can apply very well in the NYSE or NASA and yet he lives in Kenya or Mozambique, exposure to formal education would ensure each child pursues his passion thus living a full life unlike if they were each to learn from what they come across or are home schooled. The benefits of school are much spicier compared to if they went visiting their respective environs as the author states.
As much as John Holt states that youngsters want to make sense of the world and other people as well as themselves, as being the most important aspect of youth, it is only right to point out that without due guidance and support as well as counseling and helping in career choice in the name of curriculum, children will surely be lost to the ways of the world since they may make the wrong decisions all in the name of “letting them make sense of the world”.
Another aspect that is overlooked in the article is the fact that parents, too, have a role to play in shaping their children’s lives since they are ultimately the ones responsible for bringing the child into this world.
This is depicted when the author observes that a child is harassed, taught to be indifferent, that he learns that to be wrong and confused is a crime etc. This is not completely accurate since the parents, assuming they are there, also play a vital role in the child’s life by encouraging and giving the child the right advice and moral support regarding school and how to go about hardships that they may encounter.
Therefore, with the right attitude, the child is able to appreciate all the giving’s of school and life at school in general thus reaping maximum benefits. The author gives an example of an older child helping a much younger one with reading and in the process improves his own reading skills.
This may be true but all in all, without the curriculum, the teacher and the school, the older child would not have the reading skills that he already has and thus would not help the younger child. In a synopsis, we can say that the period before school and the period after school is part of the grand plan of life that is linked by the vital aspect of school which plays a vital role in curving an individual’s lifetime.
Conversely, they all are heavily reliant on one other since one without the other is like a headless body and they all play important parts in modeling one other. Therefore, if we were to reject the idea of school and let youngsters learn on their own, the impact would reveal diverse consequences.
Kirszner, G. L., & Mandell, R. S. (2010). The blair reader: Exploring issues and ideas (7th ed.). London: Longman.