Harvey 1
Shuran Harvey
Professor Owens
English Comp
22 January 2011
John Holt's Essay "How Teachers Make Children Hate Reading"
When I read the title to this essay my immediate thoughts were I love reading, but hate
writing, this should be on writing. I was one of those students that had and still have the strong dislike
of writing opposed to reading. Holt's article has confirmed my belief this hate stems from the ever
looming possibility of failure .As I read on, in each paragraph I could identify with Holt's reasoning,
this was a teacher that clearly explored the student's point of view. I understood Holt's thought
process that learning is more effective when a child is given the freedom to learn in a way that works
for them, and if you take out the insecurity of being a failure, you add the will to try, and the courage
to be creative. In my response I will touch on the points that I could directly relate to.
Holt's main point in the essay is to relay to the children that learning can be fun, especially
reading. Through personal experience he tried to devise different ways to learn something outside the
conventional methods. He realized that many students disliked school because they felt that school
was a danger. The learning process was partially blocked by the child's fear of failure. If a child was
given a paragraph to read aloud and the child struggled they then would be ridiculed by other
students and possibly the teacher. This, as suggested in Holt's story, is often one of the most painful
punishments a child can suffer in school. In any case the child who has made the mistake knows he
has made it, and feels foolish, stupid, and ashamed, just as any of us would in his shoes. Therefore
to never experience these most uncomfortable feelings they never try again.
In contrast positive reinforcement provides the student an environment in which advancement
in education is a possibility. When a student gets an answer correct the teacher acknowledges it with
praise whether verbal or written such as a star or check mark followed by a good job. This inevitably
tells the student that this is what it takes to gain good recognition. This will make the child eager to
learn and wishing to acquire the same status over and over again. Now the child has been
conditioned to make the right response. If the child is capable of the problem, fear is diminished. The
child is more apt to participate in class activities because of the feelings that follows a correct answer.
It is my belief that Holt's article should be a required reading for all teachers so that they may
gain another perspective on effective teaching. Some teachers forget that students are individuals
and therefore have individual ways of comprehending what's being put out. And like Holt, teachers
should try several methods of teaching therefore increasing the chances of reaching all the students
opposed to just a few. Lastly some teachers believe a student should learn every single detail of
something or they not properly learning or fully grasping the task set before them. I agree with Holt
on this matter of understanding, if a child struggles, try to assist them in a positive manner if it doesn't
work move on so the child's will to learn is not stifled by negativity.
In closing, I feel there is no right or wrong way to learn, however there are effective and
infective ways to teach. As a mother this essay has been an eye opener showing me the best way to
ensure that not only the teacher is reaching my child but my methods of teaching are just as effective.
Please help grade my above essay
thx a lot