Defining Delight Directed Home Education
© Beverley Paine
Gregg Harris's recent article on Delight-Direct Study had me wondering if he and I read the same John Holt... His acceptance of delight-driven learning as legitimate, especially for Christian homeschooling families, and his dismissal of unschooling, defined and encourgaged by the late John Holt, as something completely different, puzzled me.
John Holt helped me to see the way in which my conditioning as a schooled student hindered the educational growth and development of my children. His example, the one that I followed, and one that is historically the approach taken by those that study child development, is to observe and reflect. As a school teacher, John observed not only the way in which children didn't learn in school, and the ways that they did, but also his successes and failures as a teacher. First and foremost John was a school reformer. We all know how frustrating it is dealing with schools! At some point it's time to stop banging our heads against the wall and implement easier and energy efficient solutions. This is how John came to support and encourage homeschooling. After all, it is a method that has worked for millenia! Like others he could see that literacy rates, among other educational measures, had dropped considerably since the advent of mass compulsory schooling in the USA and continued to decline, despite the billions of dollars spent on 'improving' the school system.
The way Gregg Harris describes John Holt's 'hand's off' approach to education is a far cry from how I interpreted and put into practice the ideas John's words birthed in my head.
I can't remember reading anything in any of John's books (and I think I've read at least half a dozen over the last twenty years - about half, I reckon) that encourages parents to abandon their children throughout the learning/educational process. John (or a parent) was always in the picture in his descriptions of children learning. What John discovered was that learning for learning sake is incredibly inefficient and sometimes a sad waste of time of resources, as the lessons are usually often forgotten. John advocated interest based learning - led naturally by the learner, but within an environment that supported and encouraged the child. All of the examples in his book showed dedicated and committed, caring and attentive, loving parents.
We waste a lot of time in homeschooling land mucking about with definitions, and when all is said and done, the tendency to do this is based on our own too well schooled conditioning. The desire to tease things apart, analyse them, label them, schedule them, and make them fit into tidy boxes - that's what school did to us. Some of us are naturally organised of course, but one of the roles of school is to get us to all think this way so we can be productive little cogs in someone else's big machinery...
More information on Delight Driven education can be found on the Home Hearts website.
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