John Holt was a teacher, back in the 1950s-60s. Disillusioned with the school system and becoming more and more convinced that schools hindered rather than helped learning, he published several books about education and learning, and later on (as he lost hope that the school system would ever be reformed) about home schooling.

His first book, How Children Fail, talks about the shortcomings of schools. The second, How Children Learn, talks about how children (especially small children) naturally learn.

How Children Fail is a diatribe, and while I can agree with much of what it says (and it made me think seriously about home schooling) it’s rather negative in tone: the focus is on what is wrong, not how to fix it. Not a book I’m going to re-read for fun. How Children Learn on the other hand was interesting and inspiring in a completely different way, and a very enjoyable read.

Because it’s an ideas book, I think the best way to give a feel for what it’s about is through quotes, so I’m going to follow this with a couple of (longish) posts with quotes from the book.

Learn: Amazon US, Amazon UK.
Fail: Amazon US, Amazon UK.