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Responce to John Holt's "School Is Bad for Children" in My English 098 Text Book

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Topics: Education, Teacher
Richard Thorne-Kalmbach
11/01/2010
English 098- assignment 3
Professor Merck
To say school is completely bad for children would be ignorant. Without schools children would lack the discipline, focus, and life skills that you would need to survive in the real world. Although I agree partially with John Holt’s “School Is Bad for Children”, I disagree with many of his ideas of how we should fix our schools. Holt makes many good points of how school is bad, or at least the way they teach is, but also fails to take into perspective other points of view about the education system, and the possible consequences of some of the changes he would like to make to the school’s.
Holt states that the student learns that “learning is a passive process, something that someone else does to you. Instead of something you do for yourself.” On this point I agree with Holt, because schools force you to learn their way instead of focusing on your strengths and weakness’. I also believe that school is not the only way to learn, and that schools should encourage students to learn things on their own outside of school instead of teaching the students that school is the only place you learn. Students should also be placed into classes by skill level instead of focus so much on the grade number they are in.
I also agree with Holt’s idea that in school the student “learns to be bored.” In school a student, to prevent being called on or getting in trouble, learns to “Dodge and bluff” the teacher into thinking that he knows the material. Instead he just goes round and round with the teacher until the teacher beliefs that he knows the “right answer”.
Students are also taught that there is only one way, and only one right answer to things. The school teaches the student that there is one right answer, and that he/she must use their method of solving the problem to get the correct answer. If the student does not use the same method taught in class then the way they are trying to solve the problem is wrong. Instead of helping the student learn from his or her mistakes they are punished and marked down severely causing a bad grade.
However I disagree with many of his points. Holt says “we should abolish compulsory school attendance”, what good would this do? If we abolish compulsory attendance it will form bad habits for children entering the real world. This would teach the kids that they can show up whenever they want, and that they don’t even have to go if they choose not to. If this habit was carried into the real world he or she would never be able to hold down a job or survive. So getting rid of attendance would not help the school system at all.
I also disagree with Holt’s idea that we should get rid of “grades, exams, marks.” If we removed these, our school system would not have a way of effectively judging were certain students are, and what students are ahead of others. Getting rid of grades would also make it harder to communicate with the parents on how their child is doing in class, and what he could do to improve.
Exams are a way of measuring where the students are. These exams are also used to evaluate the teacher, and how well he/she has done their job in teaching the curriculum. Without these exams we would have no way of telling how well our tax dollars are being spent; we wouldn’t be able to tell how good of a job the teacher is doing, or not doing.
Finally I disagree with his point that we should let the students grade all of each other’s work. If the students graded all their own work they would be more likely to cheat. Not only could they cheat, but would learn less. By letting students grade their own work they would be free to put whatever grade they want or change their answers to correct ones.
Instead with the teacher grading the work, he or she knows where the students are at in the class, and how they can help each one improve what they are learning. Not only will it help the teacher help the students better, but also it will allow the teacher to also further evaluate his or her own teaching plan. Noticing flaws in their teaching plan they can change it and improve it for themselves and the students.
So even though John Holt makes many good points of how school can harm a child’s learning ability and that the way they teach makes the student worse off than before. I mostly disagree with his point that school is bad for children, because without it they would not learn the structure and discipline that is required to survive in the real world. Also that abolishing things such as attendance and grades could just further harm the school system then good. However with the approval of a board of administrators there are many positive changes that could improve today’s school system in America.

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