Carl R. Rogers
Epitaph on a
"No teacher I of boys or small fry,
No teacher I of teachers, no, not I.
Mine was the distant aim, the longer reach,
To teach men how to teach men how to teach."
A. B. Ramsay
Archaic Authoritarian Method of Teaching.
"What avail is it to win
prescribed amounts of information about geography and history, to win
ability to read and write, if in the process the individual loses his
own soul; loses his appreciation of things
worth while, of the values to which these are relative; if he loses his
desire to apply what he has learned, and, above all loses the ability
to extract meaning from his future experiences as they occur?"
The worst principle of
authoritarian and extreme right wing
teaching. This is quoted from the recollections of Michael
Merzenich who remembered a conversation between his mother and his
mother's first cousin who was a grade school teacher in Wisconsin. "What
are your most important principles in teaching", the mother
asked and was answered, "Well you test them when they come
into school, and you figure out whether they are worthwhile. And if
they are worthwhile, you really pay attention to them, and you don't
waste time on the ones that aren't."
While very few teachers would be willing to admit
to this out loud, I think many teachers subscribe to this secretly and
some perhaps subconsciously.
implicit in authoritarian teaching. In his book
"Freedom to Learn" Carl R. Rogers had a lot to say about the
authoritarian method of teaching. Although writing about the graduate
education of psychologists, most of the fallacious assumptions he
identified as being at the heart of psychologist's graduate education
are actually applicable to all situations of authoritarian teaching
whether kindergarten, grade school, high school or graduate school.
These assumptions outlined below are clearly destructive and stifling
to real learning.
Student cannot be trusted to pursue his own scientific and professional
to pass examinations is the best criterion for student selection and
for judging professional promise."
is education; education is evaluation."
equals learning: What is presented in a lecture is what a student
is the accumulation of brick upon brick of content and information."
truths of psychology [any subject?] are
scientists develop from passive learners."
out' a majority of the students is a satisfactory method of producing
scientists and clinicians." [educated people?]
are best regarded as manipulable objects, not as persons."
students cannot be trusted to pursue their own learning, we are forced
to decide for them what they should learn. We are forced to make the
they should be making about their lives, and by doing so, we are
preventing them from having any practice in deciding
for themselves. Yet we expect them to start making those decisions,
when they enter the word of work and vocation, without previous
the ability to pass examinations is the best criterion for judging
professional promise we should expect that those people who do well at
school are the ones that succeed in life. No matter how you might judge
success, be it power, wealth, job satisfaction, lifestyle satisfaction,
health, or happiness, the people who succeed in life, are not those who
pass the examinations and get the degrees. This happens despite the
fact that people who are successful at school go into the world of
vocation with everything in their favor.
face it, evaluation by others has nothing to do with learning in the
sense that learning implys understanding. Unfortunately however
evaluation is one of the ways in which memorized information is
revisited and thus it enables learned material to be recalled. In this
way it can improve our ability to recall already learned material.
Learning is attempting to understand reality. Evaluating is attempting
to determine if somebody's understanding of reality is in accordance
with what is currently socially acceptable. Although evaluation can
improve the memory of already learned material it also has many harmful
effects. Large numbers of tests and exams have been shown to seriously
discourage students, lower their self esteem and erode their self
belief. This has to be weighed against any advantage that accrue from
improving the memory of already learned information.
We should be trying do away with
exams or at least make them less debilitating by not grading them.
Exams could be an aid to memorizing if they simply provided feedback
about how well we remembered the information to answer the questions in
the exam. The grading, which is the harmful element in tests, can
easily be be removed from most testing where it is completely
unnecessary. Yet exams are not getting
less but are rather getting more. How many exams do they want? Every
year is not
enough, nor every month. Now we have exams every week or every day.
Maybe soon it will be every hour. How can students be interested in
what they are doing while this sword of Damocles hangs suspended above
their heads, ready to fall at any moment. The only important evaluation
in learning is self evaluation and even that is not absolutely
essential to learning.
people say that in order to enable people to learn, all we have to do,
is present in a lecture form the data to be learned. However
did we arrive at this strange idea? This does not take into account the
student's interest or how the data connects with the data already in
the student's mind. This idea just does not make sense. If it was true,
all that would be needed to learn anything, would be to listen to it
being read, or to read it. But the fact is, if something does not make
sense or is boring, our minds simply shut off and do not take in the
data or discard it immediately. In authoritarian schools students minds
are in this shut down state most of the time.
is not fact and not fixed. Knowledge is theories and those
theories are in a continual state of change. Knowledge cannot be
accumulated brick upon brick of content and information, because the
bricks are changing and will continue to change even as we are
cementing them into place. This the old myth that there is fundamental
or basic information that needs to be learned in any subject. The fact
that there is no fundamental knowledge is much more obvious in
psychology than say physics or mathematics. However all subjects change
all the time, and even as students are learning it, it is already wrong
or incomplete and certainly not basic.
who subscribe to the authoritarian method of
teaching, hold if not consciously then unconsciously that the truth is
known about their subject. At some level however, we all understand
that the only truths that can be known, are those we define as being
true and those truths
derived from other truths through deduction. Thus in mathematics it is
true that 1+1=2. This is true because we define it as being true. From
this we can derive, deduce, that 2-1=1. These things are true. History
is not true. Science is not true. Geography is not true. English is not
true. All these subjects involve theories or current conventions. We
are fairly sure that there has been a true history, but we have only
theories as to what that history
was. It is based on things people in the past have written down and
found relics. Nobody is sure. Different historians give different
views, and our current beliefs about history are merely the current
consensus among historians or the conventions of a particular society
is a strange belief among authoritarian teachers that if students know
and can execute a method, they are doing good science. This idea is
quite common. These teachers believe that if experimental procedure is
exacting then the student is doing good scientific work. The fact that,
what the student is checking, may be unimportant or useless, does not
seem to register with them. Much research and experiment therefore ends
up being mind numbingly boring and useless. The research design is
meticulous, but it is probing questions that are not worth asking.
some level, we cannot help but understand, that
creative people do not develop from passive learners. Yet most
authoritarian teaching requires complete passivity on the part of the
students. Creativity is a skill, a habit, and a way of life. As such it
needs to be practiced, and people in a passive state cannot be
practicing anything. Like a limb that is not used, creativity withers
useless. Added to this, authoritarian teachers tend to be dismissive of
the importance of problem solving, and tend to ridicule wild or silly
ideas. Also, in order to maintain passivity, they may even discourage
curiosity as being distracting from what they want the student to
absorb. Perhaps the leaders of society really do not want creative
people. But this would be crazy, as our survival as a species will rely
on the many critical problems facing us, being
is something dangerously wrong with a system that produces only a
tiny number of successes. The idea that the weak, the lesser
intelligent, and the non conformists have to be weeded out in order to
uncover those who have any promise, is an elitist idea worthy of any
totalitarian state. As Carl Rogers has pointed out this weeding out
seems to be a scandalous waste of manpower, and of human potential. It
is a waste in that, schools and colleges are still the major
repositories of knowledge in our societies (though the internet may
change this eventually). Schools are places which we can only have
access to, if we are willing to, and able to, pass their tests and
examinations. The idea that every human being has the right to, (and
that society might well need them to) learn to the full extent to which
they are capable of learning, seems to be held as a very dangerous
idea. Advocates of authoritarian teaching would probably point out that
there are not enough colleges and universities for all students to
attend and that some just logically must be weeded out. This is
currently true but not inevitable. The truth is, that there should be
enough colleges to accommodate any who might wish to enroll in them. If
the schools are failing in their ability to enable universal learning
then perhaps more schools need to be built.
be treated as an object to be manipulated, is one of the most horrible
things that human beings can do to one another. Adults bristle and
become furious if they are objectified, yet they seem to see the
objectification of children as normal. If you, in your life, are
treated mostly as an object to be manipulated, should we then be amazed
that you in turn, treat others mostly as objects to manipulate and not
as persons? Our inability to relate to others as persons, and our
destructive tendency to try to manipulate others to get our way, are
directly traceable to our education. Humanity has placed itself in a
loop that continues to produce people who manipulate others and treat
them as little more that dolls to manipulate. In his book
"Freedom to Learn" Carl Rogers even suggests this
objectification may sometimes involve a double bind as follows:
"In some instances faculty
members put the student in a real 'double bind' situation by giving him
a contradictory message. It is as if the faculty member said: 'I
welcome you to a warm and close interpersonal relationship - and when
you come close I will clobber you with my evaluation.' The analogy to
the parents of schizophrenics is painfully clear."
to Learn" Carl Rogers missed out one important assumption
that is well embedded in authoritarian teaching. That assumption is
that all students should go to colleges and those who have failed to
obtain a degree from a college have seriously failed in society and are
its rejects. So not only do some learners have to be weeded out but,
they are expected to feel like failures because of it, and that
everyone else feels they are failures also. In
"Learning for Tomorrow" Harold G.
Shane and June Grant Shane had this to say about it:
"The belief that
almost all youth should go to colleges as they are now constituted is
one of the most indefensible and dangerous of the tactic assumptions
made by teachers, parents, and their children... Beginning with
children of elementary-school age, we need to point out that there are
numerous valuable, important, dignified ways in which everyone can
serve humanity, and that most of them do not require a liberal arts
degree. Until this point is put across with conviction, millions of
children of twelve or younger will continue to feel that they are
failures if they do not contemplate attending a college."
"Not only must we
de-intensify the anachronistic campaign to persuade most children and
youth to attend college, we must create even for quite young children,
learning atmospheres that are wholesome and hopeful, infused with the
idea that each individual learner - and our entire species as well -
have many desirable choices open to us, and that, with rational
planning, there will be a rewarding role for each child to fill."
about this: Society not only tries to instill in us the absolute
essentiality of going to a college, but it then turns round and does
not provide us with enough colleges for us to go to..
The Empty Glass Student. The
authoritarian method requires passivity on the part of the student. The
teacher is active and the student is passive. It embodies the analogy
of the student as a glass to
be filled and the teacher as a jug full of knowledge to be poured into
authoritarian teacher needs no humanity. The job of storing and dumping
facts is well known to be more efficiently performed by machines, by
passive student does not think or choose or question, he is entirely
The information is dumped into his head, but has no meaning or
connection with reality.
the reason they're called lessons," the Gryphon remarked: "because they
lessen from day to day." - Lewis Carrol [Lessen in use, lessen in
value, lessen the teacher and lessen the student.]
Central to the
method of teaching is trying to cram information in the form of
separate facts in an unbroken stream instead of allowing the minds of
students to digest the information. This is passive learning at the
extreme. Real learning requires that our brains interact with
information making as many connections or association in order to
produce meaning in the information. This is a situation where learners
not only need to actively seek information but also have breaks when
the information can be assembled into something understandable as a
whole. In his book
"Brain Rules" John Medina painfully illustrates this idea
with the following analogy of pâté de foie gras.
"Our need for timed
interruptions reminds me of a film called Mondo Cane, which holds the
distinction of being the worst movie my parents reported ever seeing.
Their sole reason for hating this movie was one disturbing scene:
farmers force-feeding geese to make pâté de foie gras. Using fairly vigorous
strokes with a pole, farmers literally stuffed food down the throats of
these poor animals. When a goose wanted to regurgitate, a brass ring
was fastened around its throat, trapping the food inside the digestive
tract. Jammed over and over again, such nutrient oversupply eventually
created a stuffed liver, pleasing to chefs around the world. Of course
it did nothing for the nourishment of the geese, who were sacrificed in
the name of expediency.
My mother would often relate
this story to me when she talked about being a good or bad teacher.
'Most teachers overstuff their students,' she would exclaim, 'like
those farmers in that awful movie!' When I went to college, I soon
discovered what she meant. And now that I am a professor who has worked
closely with the business community, I can see the habit close up. The
most common communication mistakes? Relating too much information, with
not enough time to connect the dots. Lots of force-feeding, very little
digestion. This does nothing for the nourishment of the listeners,
whose learning is often sacrificed in the name of expediency."
The Passive Learner.
Passivity and submission to power is like an addictive drug. Yet in our
schools students are trained to submit and be passive again and again.
By submitting to external power, be it societal or interpersonal, man
forgoes the right to be a creative participant on his own terms. In his
"Man for Himself" Erich Fromm spells out this addiction as
"The paralyzing effect
of power does not rely only upon the fear it arouses, but equally on an
implicit promise - the promise that those in possession of power can
protect and take care of the 'weak' who submit
to it, that they can free man from the burden of uncertainty and of
responsibility for himself by guaranteeing order
and assigning the individual a place in this order which makes him feel
secure. Man's submission to this combination of threat and promise is
his real 'fall.' By submitting to power = domination he loses his power
= potency. He loses his power to make use of all those capacities which
make him truly human; his reason ceases to operate; he may be
intelligent, he may be capable of manipulating things and himself, but
he accepts as truth that which those who have the power over him call
the truth. He loses his power of love, for his emotions are tied [in a
to those upon whom he depends. He loses his moral sense, for his
inability to question and criticize those in power stultifies his moral
judgment with regard to anybody and anything. ...Indeed freedom is the
necessary condition of happiness as well as of virtue; freedom, not in
the sense of the ability to make arbitrary choices and not freedom from
necessity, but freedom to realize that which one potentially is, to
fulfill the true nature of man according to the laws of his existence."
The most socially crippling
dangers of authoritarianism in the classroom have been clearly stated
by Bertrand Russel in his
"Selected Papers of Bertrand Russel" as follows:
"Passive acceptance of
the teacher's wisdom is easy to most boys and girls. It involves no
effort of independent thought, and seems rational because the teacher
knows more than the pupils. ...Yet the habit of passive acceptance is a
disastrous one in later life. It causes men to seek a leader, and to
accept as leader, whoever is established in that position. It makes the
power ... by which plain men are misled into accepting old systems
which are harmful to themselves."
Ralph Waldo Emmerson
once said the following:
"Our chief want in life
is someone who will make us do what we can."
This is very true and seems
truer every day. But it is a sad indictment of our society and the
educational institutions that usher it in. For, yes, we all want to do
the things we can and do them well. We all want to accomplish
something, but why is it that we should need someone to make us do it?
Why do people seem unable to initiate action in themselves? Why do we
not do things, to please ourselves and for our own gratification?
Why?... because we have been made passive by our education.
in school becomes passivity in life and vice versa. This
passivity, that we become accustomed to at school, sets us up for a
passive life. Such passive mediums as radio, TV and movies seemed to
come along at just the right time. The experience of forced passivity
in schools prepared the young people coming out of them to just sit
there and take in whatever the medium dished out. Likewise the kids
brought up by radio and TV were much more accepting of an educational
system that asked them to just sit there while bits of unconnected data
was poured into their heads.
The fact is we really need a
different word for the activity that will be talked about next as the
word teach or teaching has become so mired with destructive meaning and
connotations. In his book
"Freedom to Learn" Carl R. Rogers said it as well as anybody
"I wish to begin... with a
statement which may seem surprising to some and perhaps offensive to
others. It is simply this. Teaching, in my estimation, is a vastly
Having made such a
statement, I scurry to the dictionary to see if I really mean what I
say. Teaching means 'to instruct.' Personally I am not much interested
instructing another in what he should know or think. 'To impart
knowledge or a skill.' My reaction is, why not be more efficient, using
a book or programmed learning? 'To make to know.' Here my hackles rise.
I have no wish to make anyone know something. 'To
show, guide, direct.' As I see it, too many people have been shown,
guided, directed. So I come to the conclusion that I do mean
what I said. Teaching is for me a relatively unimportant and vastly
The Enlightened Facilitation Method of Teaching.
teacher must derive not only the capacity, but the desire, to observe
natural phenomena. In our system, she must become a passive, much more
than an active, influence, and her passivity shall be composed of
anxious scientific curiosity and of absolute respect for the phenomenon
which she wishes to observe. The teacher must understand and feel her
position of observer: the activity must lie in the phenomenon."
view young people not as empty bottles to be filled, but as candles to
Robert H. Shaffer
teaching, light a fire, don't fill a bucket."
want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in
pursuit of the child."
Implicit in Facilitation. In his book
to Learn" Carl R. Rogers also outlined some assumptions
behind facilitation. Below is an extended and amended list of the
assumptions which promote real or significant learning and the growth
of better or superior people.
beings have a natural need for learning. They are curious about
their world, until and unless this curiosity is blunted by the
educational system. In his book
"Freedom to Learn" Carl R. Rogers said: "This
potentiality and desire for learning, for discovery, for enlargement of
knowledge and experience,
can be released under suitable conditions. It is a tendency which can
be trusted, and the whole approach to education which we have been
describing builds upon and around the student's natural desire to
Evaluation and judgment is
almost always perceived as a threat. As learning already involves fear
and distress due to the giving up of previous learnings, of changing
one's view of the world and restructuring one's model of reality, added
threats such as evaluation can easily tip the scales making learning so
frightening, that the natural need to lean is overcome and crushed.
Facilitation releases student from the fear and humiliation of
evaluation by others by being based on student self evaluation.
Criticism of ideas by others can still be accomplished under
facilitation if approached in a non threatening and constructive manner.
Real learning only takes
place when learners are interested, when the subject matter has meaning
for learners and is perceived by learners as having relevance to his
own purposes. It
is interest, meaning and relevance that decide if learning shall take
place at all. But it can also be shown that the
degree to which interest, meaning and relevance are evident, increases
the depth and breadth of learning, its retention, its accuracy and the
speed at which it is learned.
facilitation of learning, without pressure or
threat promotes and escalates, both the desire for knowledge and the
habit of lifelong learning. It does this, by reaffirming that learning
is a joyous and sometimes ecstatic experience. All children know this
when they are young but so many have this understanding erased under
pressure from parents and especially through unpleasant associations
with learning such as fear and humiliation gained at schools. Part of
facilitation is to restore this joy in learning to the learners.
"Freedom to Learn" Carl R. Rogers said: "Learning
which involves change in self organization - in the perception of
oneself - is threatening and tends to be resisted." The
type of person that we are, depends on our beliefs and values and our
understanding of how we fit into the world of our model of reality.
This core of our map of reality, not only tries to maintain itself but
will react violently if we feel threatened in this area. Teachers often
feel threatened in this way when students do not conform to their
standards and values. Teachers should of course, not react this way,
but rather find ways to coexist which students who hold different
"Freedom to Learn" Carl R. Rogers said that there are: "...
learnings which are threatening to the self are more easily perceived
and assimilated when external threats are at a minimum. The boy who is
retarded in reading already feels threatened and inadequate because of
this deficiency. When he is forced to attempt to read aloud in front of
the group, when he is ridiculed for his efforts, when his grades are a
vivid reflection of his failure, it is no surprise that he may go
through several years of school with no perceptible increase in reading
ability. On the other hand, a supportive, understanding environment and
a lack of grades, or an encouragement of self evaluation, remove the
external threats and permit him to make progress because he is no
longer paralyzed by fear."
"Freedom to Learn" Carl R. Rogers said: "When
threat to the self is low, experience can be perceived in
differentiated fashion and learning can proceed. In a sense this only
an extension of, or an explanation of the preceding principle. The poor
reader is a good
illustration of what is involved in this principle. When he is called
upon to recite in class the internal panic takes over and the words on
the page become less intelligible symbols than when he was sitting in
his seat before he was called upon. When he is in an environment in
which he is assured of personal security and when he becomes convinced
that there is no threat to his ego, he is once more free to perceive
the symbols on the page in a differentiated fashion."
Our site's position is that
questions are more important than facts or even theories. Only in this
way can we avoid the dangerous pitfall of thinking we have the final
answer or the truth. For everything changes and what was held as being
true yesterday must be discarded or revised tomorrow. In learning we
seek to know the truth, but we can never know it. All we can do is
approach that truth. As Zeno said: "For even if by chance
he were to utter the final truth, he would himself not know it: For all
is but a woven web of guesses."
"Freedom to Learn" Carl R. Rogers said: "Much
significant learning is acquired through doing." Doing
whether it is physical or mental is always active and not passive and
ensures that the student is to some extent initiating his own activity.
Things to do can of course be set by a teacher, but even in this form
more learning is accomplished than if the student had no involvement in
the learning and was completely passively absorbing data.
"Freedom to Learn" Carl R. Rogers said: "Self-initiated
learning which involves the whole person of the learner - feelings as
well as intellect - is the most lasting and pervasive."
This is just obvious, in that the incorporation of feelings, and
awareness of them provides more and stronger connections to whatever is
being learned. It is these connections, that hook new learned material
into our map or model of reality. It is pervasive because it is
connected to more areas in our map of reality, and it is more lasting
because it may be reached starting at a lot of different places and
tracing the connections back to it.
"Freedom to Learn" Carl R. Rogers said: "Learning
is facilitated when the student participates responsibly in the
learning process. When he chooses his own directions, helps to discover
his own learning resources, formulates his own problems, decides his
own course of action, lives with the consequences of each of those
choices, then significant learning is maximized." For it
is usually only when we make our own choices that learning has personal
meaning and relevance and thus is real to us.
"Freedom to Learn" Carl R. Rogers said: "Independence,
creativity and self-reliance are all facilitated when self-criticism
and self-evaluation are basic and evaluation by others is of secondary
importance." In other words we cannot become independent,
self-reliant, or creative without practicing those things, and we
cannot practice those things without becoming our own judge of our own
skills and accomplishments.
"Freedom to Learn" Carl R. Rogers said: "The
most socially useful learning in the modern world is the learning of
the process of learning, a continuing openness to experience and the
incorporation into oneself of the process of change."
Facilitation encourages non closure and the continuing of being open to
new ideas and change. This continuing quest, must in the end, discard
fact and even theory in favor of learning how to find
those facts and theories when you want them. Learning the process of
learning is ultimately the only essential learning.
Student Sponge. The Facilitation method
requires activity on the part of the student. The teacher is not
entirely passive but rather waits for an invitation for activity. It
embodies the analogy of the student as a sponge to soak up knowledge
and the teacher as facilitator to help locate where various jugs of
knowledge may be found.
& Learning. Elsewhere in this site it was shown how
knowledge, or information in messages, could be made more memorable, or
as we put it, sticky. Memory however, of what the teacher wants the
student to learn, is not, and cannot be the ultimate goal of learning.
This is so, for two very important reasons. Firstly, the teacher, the
school, the educational institution, should have
no right to decide what the learner should learn. It can be shown that
what they decide is almost never useful and
always out of date. Secondly, what we are taught to memorize are facts
and theories, and this does not give us the exercise our minds need in
solving problems, investigating and inventing. It is all about
passively absorbing, and not about
The Active Learner.
Activity is interesting,
contagious and enjoyable but not usually addictive. It allows learners
to be independent, autonomous and self directing. It encourages
thought, criticism and speculation. It allows learners to become what
they can become.
These ideas imply that
learning can only be accomplished through learner interest, and through
connecting ideas with reality and thus with their use. The importance
of learner interest and meaningfulness is supported by recent findings
from the world of neuroscience. Alternatively the thinking that
learning can be accomplished through coercion seems irrational, despite
it being so far much the preferred method. Many people have much to say
about this, not the least of whom is John Amos Comenius, a 17th century
Czech religious leader who had great understanding of teaching and
learning in this early period. His criticism and suggestions are as
relevant today as they were in his own time. He said:
"Let the main object of
this our Didactic, be as follows: To seek and to find a method of
instruction, by which teachers may teach less, but learners learn more;
by which schools may be the scene of less noise aversion, and useless
labor, but more leisure, enjoyment, and solid progress..."
Professor David Hawkins, in
his article "What it Means to Teach" brings the relationship of student
and teacher into sharp focus as follows:
"I should like to begin by
observing that the teacher-learner relationship is at least as old as
our human species, and that its formal institutional framework, though
much more recent in origin, is only a stylized and often stilted
version of something which goes on all the time among us, especially
between the older and the younger. I want to underline the antiquity of
this honorable relationship if only to remind you of the obvious, that
it is a key link in the chain of human history and culture, and that
without it we would perish immediately. Also to
remind you that it is not something on which anyone has a patent.
reasonable general account of the relationship is therefore, that the
teacher is one who acquires authority through a compact of trust, in
which the teacher seeks to extend the powers of the learner and
promises to abridge them only transiently and to the end of extending
them. The teacher offers the learner some kind of loan of himself or
herself, some kind of auxiliary equipment which will enable the learner
to make transitions and consolidations he could not otherwise have
made. And if this equipment is of the kind to be itself internalized,
the learner not only learns, but begins the process to be his own
teacher - and that is how the loan is repaid..."
John Holt in
Children Learn" said:
"The child is
curious. He wants to make sense out of things, find out how things
work, gain competence and control over himself and his environment, do
what he can see other people doing. He is open, receptive and
perceptive. ...What is essential is that children learn independently
not in bunches; that they can learn out of interest and curiosity, not
to please or appease the adults in power; and that they ought to be in
control of their own learning, deciding for themselves what they want
to learn and how they
want to learn..."
In his book
of Education" John Holt explains it like this.
"No one can act or learn for
another. The doer must do the work
himself. The task, the choice,
the purpose must be his."
"And so it must always be the first
and central task of any teacher to help the student to become
independent of him, to learn to be his own teacher. The true teacher
must always be trying to work himself out of a
"If the student can't hurt himself
doing the harder task, let him try it if he wants. The most valuable
and indeed essential asset the student brings to any learning task is a
willingness to adventure, to take risks. Without that, he can't learn
anything. The teacher must not kill this spirit, but honor and
strengthen it. Thus, one of the stupidest things the Schools do is
insist that children 'comprehend' everything they read, and read only
what the comprehend. People who read well do not learn to read this
way. They learn by plunging into books
that are 'too hard' for them, enjoying what they can understand,
wondering and guessing about what they do not, and not worrying when
they cannot find an answer."
cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think." Socrates
that is worth knowing can be taught." Oscar Wild
most important outcome of education is to help students become
independent of formal education." Paul E. Gray
Perhaps the last word on
teaching rightly belongs the poetic vision of Kahlil
"The Prophet" which follows.