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Learning All The Time Paperback – January 22, 1990

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Learning All The Time + How Children Learn (Classics in Child Development) + How Children Fail (Classics in Child Development)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; Reprint edition (January 22, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201550911
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201550917
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

If John Holt had his way, today's primers would be replaced with the large-print edition of The New York Times, cursive handwriting would fade into disuse, and talking "cutesy-wootsy" to children would be considered a criminal act. This highly opinionated former teacher and original thinker spent the last half of his life challenging widely accepted classroom practices. The author of 10 books that concentrate on early child development and education, Holt is widely considered the father of the modern-day homeschooling movement because he grew to believe that schools stifle the learning process. In this, his final book--compiled by colleagues from drafts, letters, and magazine essays written by Holt before he died in 1985--he strings together his own observations and philosophies to show how young children can be encouraged to learn everything from reading and math to music and science.

Holt's thoughts carry the power of common sense. One of his pet peeves: the silly, nonsensical rules of phonics drilled into schoolchildren today. One of those adages, found on the walls of many an elementary school classroom, goes, "When two vowels go out walking, the first one does the talking." Holt points out that two pairs of vowels in the sentence violate the rule. This is not only confusing to some children, but simply "dumb," he complains. He dismisses picture books and primers, with their small, simple vocabularies. In their place, Holt urges parents to expose children to the Yellow Pages, warranties, letters, ticket stubs, and newspapers--the print trappings that adults rely upon for everyday life. Holt's call for context amid learning is delivered in a sensible, delightful writing style. He even includes several graphics and number games that can easily be used at home. Anyone who comes in contact with a small child would benefit from--and enjoy--reading these last words from a man who clearly adored and remained mesmerized by children and their inquisitive minds. --Jodi Mailander Farrell

From Publishers Weekly

A leading figure in school reform who died in 1985, the author professed that "children learn from anything and everything they see." According to PW , "Holt's ideas , which have been successfully, though not widely, tested, empower parents and should make them wary of structured early schooling as they make use of this excellent resource."
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 33 customer reviews
This is a great insight into how we as humans learn naturally and organically!
Faith Dixon
I would highly recommend this book to all parents for the insight it will give you into you your children's thoughts.
Christine Morgan
It was the firs book I read by John Holt and it is so far certainly my favorite.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

156 of 161 people found the following review helpful By Jenn Thomas on February 12, 1998
Format: Paperback
I read an article about 15 years ago in Parade magazine about the Colfax family and the homeschooled sons that they sent to Harvard. This got me interested in homeschooling any children I might have one day, but my fiance (now my husband) disagreed. So I began on long, slow process of picking up books at the library about homeschooling and leaving them in convenient spots such as the bathroom, for him to read. This book is the one that convinced my husband that homeschooling was a viable and intelligent choice for our family.
Filled with marvelous insights about children and how they learn, their initial love of learning and their later dread of it, this book explains why children's love of learning must be cherished and treasured. It is a wonderful book, for homeschooler and institutional schooler alike.
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78 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Bobbi Sheahan on September 14, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I admit it: I am in love with John Holt. I realize that he's deceased, and I am happily married, but it's ok because my husband is falling in love with him too. We are both sad that we didn't get an opportunity to hear him speak when he was alive. Thank God he wrote so many books.

We started by reading "How Children Learn," and then moved on to "How Children Fail," at which point we decided to read everything this man has ever written. We're working on it.

"Learning All the Time" is a fascinating book. In it, John Holt, a former schoolteacher and eventual homeschooling advocate, discusses how kids learn and how adults relate to them. Most of us adults don't give kids enough credit for how much they want to learn and how much they CAN learn, at earlier ages than we would have dreamed possible. He challenges everything we've been taught about the allegedly short attention span of very young children, and, since we have the privilege of observing such children in our home on a daily basis, we can see that he is right!

His philosophy involves making interesting learning materials available to kids and avoiding the two extremes of (a) frustrating them by pushing them into areas where they don't have aptitude or interest; and (b) limiting them by underestimating just how much they can learn, and how fast. Basically, he really LIKES children and respects them as human beings.

John Holt was trained as, and worked as, a teacher in the 1950's and 1960's. The more time he spent in the classroom, the more he came to believe that traditional methods of teaching were wasting a lot of children's potential and failing to keep their attention.

He has a tremendous respect for children.
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77 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Terry Pride on March 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
In clear, direct language, Learning All the Time describes the crucial difference between learning (making sense of the world)and education (being forced to digest and regurgitate what someone else dictates). Without vitriol, John Holt exposes how our children are harmed more than helped by institutional schools. He shows how all children are natural and gifted learners and how educational systems frustrate and fracture their innate curiosity about the world. His insights, ideas, and experiences show how to support children as they teach themselves. I wish I'd had this book when my child was born.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
Unschooling cannot be attained through recipes of course, since every child and family is different. But Holt thoughtfully and sensitively manages to share his devotions and insights about learning, children and life in general so clearly that even the most hesitant parent can gain confidence in hir and hir child's ability to unschool.
The book is a collection of essays about many facets of learning and educational subjects (the three R's, science, music). Holt's profound observations help not only to understand how children tackle these subjects but also to gain a better understanding of these subjects ourselves.
Highly recommended for anyone involved in education.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Deb Nam-Krane VINE VOICE on August 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
The friend who turned me onto Holt noted the frustration she felt when she first read his stuff in the 90s. He was working on all of this in the 60s, but so little had changed. I devoured the book in a few hours, and in every chapter I made similar observations. Why wasn't this being talked about when I was in school?

Any parent who has ever closely watched their own children is going to recognize the creatures Holt describes. They are intensely curious, start out with a well-developed personal dignity and want to do and figure out everything for themselves. I criticized Gatto for not making his criticisms of school clear enough that a Martian would understand; Holt is so clear that he makes you wonder why you ever believed the pedagogy of public schools- or why we needed one at all.

The book gives Holt's thoughts on how children learn literacy, math, music and science and how parents can or can't assist in those topics and in their child's learning in general. I did very well in school (for whatever that was worth), but I found myself nodding along as Holt explained the shortcomings of the common explanations for phonics, pronunciation- even such basics as vowels versus consonants- and "long" versus "short" vowels. In case you ever worried if it was just you when you scratched (or banged) your head- it's not.

It was the math section that made me want to give this book to every parent I know. As with the literacy section, he supplies optional games parents can play with their children in order to get them to understand numbers. But it was how he succinctly explained the basics of addition/subtraction and multiplication/division that made my eyes pop out.
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