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How Children Learn (Classics in Child Development) Paperback – September 4, 1995


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Product Details

  • Series: Classics in Child Development
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; Revised edition (September 4, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201484048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201484045
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Holt (1927-1985), one of this country’s leading educational and social critics, was the author of ten influential books which have been translated into fourteen languages. Known both as a passionate reformer and as ”the gentle voice of reason” (Life magazine), John Holt offers insights into the nature of learning that are more relevant today than ever before.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 43 customer reviews
One of the greatest gifts we can give children is to help them maintain their natural interests in learning.
Learning Abilities Books
I highly recommend that anyone interested in going into the profession of teaching read this book, or any current teacher who is childless.
christinemm from The Thinking Mother blog
When this book was written John Holt gave the world a fresh look at how children learn and how we should be educating our young.
Jennifer R Wagnon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

121 of 121 people found the following review helpful By christinemm from The Thinking Mother blog TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 16, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
How Children Learn
By John Holt
5 stars
Holt didn't have children of his own, and his first opinions of children and learning came from being a schoolteacher in an elite private school, where he taught math to 5th graders. He was exposed to younger children and babies who were friends and relatives, and began forming different opinions about learning, which he shares in this book. Holt is fascinated by the notion that children accomplish so much before formal schooling begins and realizes that the way school is set up goes directly in opposition to what is natural and has worked for these children up to the point they are sent off to school.
The beginning of the book covers the age ranges from birth up through age 3 to 5, that is, before children go to school. Holt talks about a certain type of important learning that takes place up until the time a child enrolls in school at which point the experience of schooling changes their personality. The book starts off with how children succeed in learning many important things and huge feats such as speaking and with proper grammar and pronunciation and walking without formal schooling and that children accomplish much learning without an adult being the facilitator of it. In general the style of writing is that Holt describes a situation and then gives his opinions of the learning experience. Sometimes Holt does little experiments such as introducing a toy or a non-toy (such as a typewriter) to young children to see how they react to it and what they do with it. Holt observes with delight and amazement, these young children who are friends and relatives (they are not his students or participants in a research projects).
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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
I discovered "How Children Learn" when my own children were already on their way to their teens. I wish I'd had it when they were born, or soon after. John Holt opens our eyes to the absolutely astonishing efficiency with which pre-school children learn so many things. And he does it without any of the language of "educationese," the gobbledygook that so often clutters books about educational issues and makes them opaque and unpleasant tasks to read. Everything he says is immediate, concrete, and down to earth, drawn from specific observations of particular children, working effectively to learn whatever interests them. This is a book that I regularly now give as a gift to my friends when they become parents for the first time. I know of no other that will fill THEM with wonder over the ensuing five years or so, as their children learn to come to grips with the world.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Robyn L. Coburn on September 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
The only thing that disappointed about this book was learning that the author is deceased, so I couldn't tell him how moved and inspired I was. I was the converted, already strongly leaning towards homeschooling when the time comes, but this book gave me insights that have changed how I interract with my 10 month old daughter, to my own great joy. How refreshing to read the words of a man unafraid to admit his errors and his regrets. His compassion also moved me, sometimes to tears. This book is be a validation for any one who needs one, of the choice to homeschool. It is an eye-opening inspiration for a parent seeking greater understanding of their toddler. This book, and the "companion volume", "How Children Fail", should be required reading for education legislators, and given out with diaper packets in maternity wards. If you have a first edition, get the latest one with Holt's further thoughts and self-critiquing updated commentary.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Tammy L. Schilling on April 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
There must be a thousand books out in the world for parents right now. How to do this or that with your baby/toddler/child, OR How to get your baby/toddler/child to do this or that. From pregnancy through college there is a guide for every problem, or perceived problem, that you may possibly have.
How Children Learn, though, is not a guide. It is simply a demonstration, through the journal of John Holt, that children are smart and know how to learn, from the moment they are born. He shows that by giving children the space and freedom they need to explore things that interest them, we allow them to develop thinking skills. We allow them to figure the world out, learn that things work in certain ways, and that the world is generally a predictable and benevolent place. Holt shows through his experiences that not only do we not need to force children to learn, or to teach them much, but that teaching (and especially coersion) are counterproductive to learning.
It would be impossible to explain in a short space the thinking behind How Children Learn. By sharing his experiences, Holt shows us about children, not educational philosophies or theories. Get this book and read it. It will change the way that you think about children and learning forever.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Peter K. Ellis on September 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
If I had read this book in college I would have saved myself so much agony in learning about children.
After I read this book: I started to learn about children. Forget the terminology; forget the theories - take a look at children and learn how they learn.
While reading the reviews posted here, I realized that this is the perfect gift for expectant parents.
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