Book Reviews

being human

summer-fall

July, 2018

“Of course, the ultimate goal in training a dog and raising a child are different. The dog trainer wants a well-behaved, obedient dog. The parent and teacher hope that the child will develop into a compassionate, empathetic, and moral person who is able to decide out of freedom how to behave in the world. In the final chapter, Winter writes passionately about what she sees as the primary, current threat to the development of children into free, compassionate and moral human beings. It is the erosion of the human capacity for “attention,” occasioned by the kidnapping of consciousness by modern technology.”

Ronald Koetzsch, Renewal 


Research Bulletin

Spring /Summer, Volume 23 #1

May, 2018

The question of children’s happiness and whether children love their teachers and parents is tackled well.  Dorit recognizes that in considering such questions it is important to understand the changing consciousness and needs of the child from preschool through eighth grade (and beyond). 

Cindy Brooks

May, 2018

 


San Francisco Book Review  •  Star Rating: 5 / 5

January, 2018

I found the book inspiring and well thought out. 

Train a Dog, but Raise the Child by Dorit Winter is a thought-provoking book that compares training a dog and raising children. The book focuses on the very nature of children and their thought processes and how our own inconsistencies as parents and caregivers can create everyday challenges. As an educator, Dorit has spent many hours with children and understands the power of teaching our children to learn and think for themselves as they grow into responsible adults. As a homeschooling mom of six children and former school teacher, I found the book inspiring and well thought out. This book reinforced many of my own thoughts on understanding and reading the children with whom you are working and meeting their needs in a way that is suitable for them and also on remaining firm and consistent in a loving way. The book, although serious in nature, mixes in humorous tales of training her dog, Scamp, making the book a quick and easy read full of useful and practical information. Ms. Winter has successfully merged the relation between animals and children in a unique and pleasant way so that the reader can recognize the many similarities yet also speak to their differences. I will definitely be sharing this book with others!

Christi Lyle-Rasheed


Renewal Magazine

November, 2017

Dorit Winter’s book offers much practical advice and food for thought for parents, teachers, and—for dog owners!

Winter’s Train a Dog, but Raise a Child in part deals with her relationship with Scamp, her beloved pet dog, and with her attempts to train Scamp to behave in a socially acceptable, non-disruptive manner. Scamp is part Vizsla , a Hungarian hunting dog, and the many anecdotes Winter shares are both amusing and instructive. The other focus of the memoir is the drawing of lessons about the rearing and teaching of children from Winter’s experiences with Scamp.

The given “raw material” for both the young canine and the human infant/child is not dissimilar. Both are strong-willed, self-centered beings, focused on meeting their own needs, acting out of their own instincts, and doing whatever they can to meet their needs. In dealing with each, Winter cites the importance for the trainer, parent, and educator of being a figure of strong, yet loving, authority. The class teacher, she points, must be a strong captain of the “ship” of the early childhood classroom. But this authority cannot be harsh or heavy handed. Children, like puppies, respond to “firmness, fairness, and consistency.”

Winter also cites the importance of “repetition,” of the inculcation of acceptable behaviors by practicing them. She describes how in an early-grade classroom, the children can acquire the habit of raising their hands to be called on, by rehearsing that behavior in practice sessions. Winter also mentions the crucial role of clearly defined rules, of predictable and appropriate consequences when the line of good behavior is crossed, and of rewards for good behavior when they are truly deserved. For Winter, the establishment in the home and in the classroom of a daily schedule, characterized by “regularity, repetition, and routine” is also essential.

Of course, the ultimate goals in training a dog and raising a child are different. The dog trainer wants a well-behaved, obedient dog. The parent and teacher hope that the child will develop into a compassionate, empathetic, and moral person who is able to decide out of freedom how to behave in the world. In the final chapter of the book, Winter writes passionately about what she sees as the primary, current threat to the development of children into free, compassionate, and moral human beings. It is the erosion of the human capacity for “attention,” occasioned by the kidnapping of consciousness by modern technology.

Chapter Nineteen is titled “The Habit of Distraction, the Loss of Mindfulness, and the Impact On Our Children.” Here, Winter points out that, because of the daily deluge of data from our smart phones with their myriad apps, our tablets and other gadgets, we and our children are losing the ability to concentrate and pay attention to any one thing for more than a few seconds. We have become addicted, literally and physically, to “distraction.” As a result, we are less able to be aware of other people, of their emotional and mental states, of their needs, less able to have face-to-face conversations with each other. Hence, the capacities for compassion, empathy, and sympathy, and thus for moral action, are diminished. The lesson for adults is clear—protect children from the social media, the Internet, et al. as much and as long as possible—and as a role model, examine one’s own relation with this attack on our humanity.

Dorit Winter’s book offers much practical advice and food for thought for parents, teachers, and—for dog owners!

Ronald Koetsch


Pedagogical Journal Newsletter

Fall, 2017

Dorit knows what she is talking about.

I would like to draw your attention to a delightful publication by our colleague, Dorit Winter. Based in California, she is an accredited Waldorf teacher, seminar leader and author of a variety of books.

Her most recent publication is a real treat for educators and parents alike, even more so if they enjoy the English language, as this little book deserves to be read in the original. It is full of wit, so vivid and brilliant – simply a joy for anyone to read.

What is it about?

The author noticed that in our culture parents often find it easier to train their dog than to raise their own child or children. Thus, these styles, training and raising, are inauspiciously intermingled.

Dorit knows what she is talking about, though. A junior and senior high school teacher, as well as teacher of adults, she is also a passionate dog owner. While this makes for hilarious comparisons, it also gives a rather more serious portrayal of what education is supposed to be, making the book an ideal read for parents-to-be. Dorit manages to portray the essentials of education without the use of jargon. This is no mean feat; she derives everything from common sense.

Her use of language is adorable. We, on this side of the Atlantic, use English mainly for the purpose of communication. Through this small volume however, Dorit introduces us to the rich imagery of American English, slightly ironic, and humorous.

She also includes a critical discussion of modern trends. Her imagery is to the point: ‘For most of us in the so-called First World, the trajectory from the first car ride home after birth until graduation after college includes massive subjection to physical densification. A conglomerate of industries has hoodwinked us into believing that muscle density is an index for health.’

Dorit’s comparison of everything from the acquisition of good manners, both at home and at school, to playing the violin is as enjoyable and full of humour as it is plausible, even for readers who have outgrown that particular stage of their life

 I was grateful for her references to the biography of the pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton. He was the first to discover how sensitive and responsive infants are. Right up into the 1960s, child psychologists generally assumed that small children were largely unresponsive. Brazelton managed to prove convincingly that this unresponsiveness stemmed from a kind of cataleptic state due to the fact that the children were observed under laboratory conditions, away from their mothers. A remarkable piece of scientific history.

This book is a treat for anyone with an interest in early education and language.

I can heartily recommend it!

Christof Wiechert