free to learn

children come in peter.png

so much of Peter‘s mindset – play – et al..

play-deprived-petergray play deprived law

free to learn – his book – read/embraced some time ago..

adding page this day..

dec 2016 – on “Free to Learn” – Education Futures Reads

children come into the world biologically designed to educate themselves.. curiosity/playfulness..

7 min – over period.. 50s to now.. lose of freedom to play.. continuous increase in mental disorders…  in childhood..

the kinds of mental disorders we’re seeing in childhood today are exactly what you would expect to see if children were being play deprived..

mental health

i don’t think indoctrination today is deliberate.. i think it’s more.. you student dependent on us.. if you do what we tell you.. things good for you…system was developed for indoctrination and obedience training (very few teachers are doing this).. but the fact of the matter.. the only way you can not pass.. is by not doing what told to do.. you rebel.. you are in continuous trouble… not capable of figuring out how to live own life..

suggesting we look into self-directed education.. could be unschooling could be school..

16 min – self-directed education is simply a continuation of what all kids do before they start school.. what if we allowed them to just continue learning in that way..

18 min – as long as you are growing up in a setting where you can see what others do in that setting.. you don’t need verbal lessons.. what you need.. is .. you need models of it

21 min – kids are not going outdoors to play.. not so much because addicted to computers.. but because they’re not allowed to go outdoors and play.. or if are.. go outdoors and no other kids to play with..  not allowed adventure in real world.. so have adventure in virtual world.. thank god for computer.. because only place today where kids are allowed to play..

22 min – how are we going to provide a world once again where children find it attractive to play outdoors... because other kids out there.. play when adults are around telling them what to do..  we have to figure out how to allow that to happen..

a nother way

24 min – primary limiting belief.. that children are incompetent.. that they develop better when carefully guided/taught/protected by adults… we just don’t trust children..

this distrust has been growing with time..

children are designed to play.. and they learn something from that play

ed timeline ness

26 min – goal – public/state/govt support for settings for self directed learning.. i don’t think will occur by virtue of current public school changing.. entire system is set up with certain assumptions in mind: teachers responsible for childrens’ learning; measure learning by testing; way eval teachers is children improve on tests… have to change basic way they operate.. probably want to get rid of word teachers… have to get rid of schools of ed.. teaching teachers how to teach

28 min – it will happen.. already increasing number of family’s taking kids out of schools.. in us.. 4%… i think.. over time.. more and more fam’s will become aware of other fam’s doing this.. tipping point.. everybody knows somebody doing this.. so can see.. kids are doing well….

29 min – the way social change typically occurs.. certain # of brave people.. do it.. even with criticizing..  then a few more see brave pioneers are ok.. then a few more.. and then a rush… if it’s the right thing to do.. and this is .. so we’ll see it.. then … provide govt support.. which by the way.. a whole lot cheaper..

31 min – school w/in school… applaud.. i think valuable.. better experience.. on other hand.. long and failed history to this… way back to 1930s even… flourishing of such in late 60s early 70s.. but most fizzled out.. because didn’t go far enough.. ie: still have to take the tests…

33 min – when kids are free.. don’t learn answers to tests… learn other stuff..

also.. jealousy.. parents of other kids.. complaining not fair.. so admin.. clamps down

37 min – on trustful parenting..  superstars of trustful parenting are hunter gatherers..  found.. children by age of 4 are allowed to run with other children away from adults… places where might be deadly animals..  belief is.. children have common sense.. hanging around with older kids.. i’ve seen footage of 2 yr olds playing with fire.. et al..  i asked why: 1\ what right would i have telling them not to  2\ yeah.. might get hurt.. but not seriously.. that’s how they learn..  the poison darts kept way up high in tree..

40 min – these are not negligent parents.. just have diff view of what children’s capacities are.. and what is a serious risk and what isn’t.. better to let kids play.. and learn..

41 min – in our culture.. everything is a huge risk.. so we deprive kids of all activities that aren’t highly supervised.. need another way of risk assessment..

actual chances are small.. it’s real.. but tiny.. and look at.. ie: roof could fall at home.. risk of driving in car.. everything entails risk..

42 min- what’s the risk of depriving  your child of having adventures.. and feeling like they’re capable of doing things..

when we deprive children of those opps.. when grow up and face w real emergency/problem.. they panic.. haven’t developed capacity to handle fearful situations thru natural.. relatively safe play growing up..

49 min – age mixing play a huge role in all types of therapy for teenagers.. ie: best therapy for cynical teenager – 4 yr old..

and wouldn’t create many/most problems in first place.. maté trump law

again .. all ages.. ie: 60 yr old

in the city.. as the day..

52 min – on sports: play has been replaced by sports.. ie: 5 yr old being put in sports w a coach..  first experience not just playing with ie: ball.. it’s in context of some adult led org’d activity..

53 min – describing baseball when he was growing up.. design it so that we’d keep everyone playing.. goal: to have fun.. be sure everybody has fun.. if kids on other team not having fun.. will quit and go home and game is over…. what a great lesson.. i have to keep everyone happy

the coach in little league.. would chew me out if i didn’t ie: pitch hard to little kid

55 min – so learning to listen.. learning to have empathy.. always active.. unlike adult directed.. where sitting on bench a lot.. in game kids are making up.. learning a lot of important life lessons.. beyond ie: baseball rules… knowing how to please playmates vs how to bunt a ball…  little league.. adult guided play..  might learn about baseball.. but not learning about lessons of life..


let’s do this firstfree art-ists.

for (blank)’s sake


gray bio design law

gray play law

gray play deprived law

gray research law


notes from reading book.. copied from Peter’s page

free to learn
book links to amazon – release date mar 5 2013
Amazon description from same link:
Our children spend their days being passively instructed, and made to sit still and take tests—often against their will. We call this imprisonment schooling, yet wonder why kids become bored and misbehave. Even outside of school children today seldom play and explore without adult supervision, and are afforded few opportunities to control their own lives. The result: anxious, unfocused children who see schooling—and life—as a series of hoops to struggle through.In Free to Learn, developmental psychologist Peter Gray argues that our children, if free to pursue their own interests through play, will not only learn all they need to know, but will do so with energy and passion. Children come into this world burning to learn, equipped with the curiosity, playfulness, and sociability to direct their own education. Yet we have squelched such instincts in a school model originally developed to indoctrinate, not to promote intellectual growth.alternative, democratically administered schools show. When children are in charge of their own education, they learn better—and at lower cost than the traditional model of coercive schooling.
A brave, counterintuitive proposal for freeing our children from the shackles of the curiosity-killing institution we call school, Free to Learn suggests that it’s time to stop asking what’s wrong with our children, and start asking what’s wrong with the system. It shows how we can act—both as parents and as members of society—to improve children’s lives and promote their happiness and learning.


curiosity (notice/be), playability (dream), sociability (connect/do)

Increasingly, researchers, parents, and society at large have come to view all of childhood through the lens of schooling. Everyone categorizes children according to their grade in school. Most research studies of children are conducted in schools and focus on school issues and concerns. The result is a school-centric view of child development that distorts human nature.


prologue for free to learn:

prologue free to learn

The words were spoken by my nine-year-old son, Scott, in the principal’s office of the public elementary school. They were addressed not only to me but to all seven of us big, smart adults who were lined up against him—the principal, Scott’s two classroom teachers, the school’s guidance counselor, a child psychologist who worked for the school system, his mother (my late wife), and me. We were there to present a united front, to tell Scott in no uncertain terms that he must attend school and must do there whatever he was told by his teachers to do. We each sternly said our piece, and then Scott, looking squarely at us all, said the words that stopped me in my tracks.

I immediately began to cry. I knew at that instant that I had to be on Scott’s side, not against him. I looked through my tears to my wife and saw that she, too, was crying, and through her tears I could  see that she was thinking and feeling exactly as I was. We both knew then that we had to do what Scott had long wanted us to do—remove him not just from that school but from anything that was anything like that school. To him, school was prison, and he had done nothing to deserve imprisonment.


Posts from this Book – on kindle:

peter gray on kindle

Children come into the world burning to learn and genetically programmed with extraordinary capacities for learning. .. Within their first four years or so they absorb an unfathomable amount of information and skills without any instruction. They learn to walk, run, jump, and climb. 

Nature does not turn off this enormous desire and capacity to learn when children turn five or six. We turn it off with our coercive system of schooling. 

if we had the will, we could free children from coercive schooling and provide learning centers that would maximize their ability to educate themselves without depriving them of the rightful joys of childhood.

The things that children learn through their own initiatives, in free play, cannot be taught in other ways.

All of this work tells a remarkably consistent and surprising story, a story that defies modern, mainstream beliefs about education. Children are biologically predisposed to take charge of their own education.

There is no need for forced lessons, lectures, assignments, tests, grades, segregation by age into classrooms, or any of the other trappings of our standard, compulsory system of schooling. All of these, in fact, interfere with children’s natural ways of learning.

An even more sobering index of decline in young people’s mental health is found in suicide rates. Since 1950, the US suicide rate for children under age fifteen has quadrupled, and that for people age fifteen to twenty-four has more than doubled.

Every time we reduce children’s opportunities for free play by increasing their time at school or at other adult-directed activities, we reduce further their opportunities to learn to control their own lives, to learn that they are not simply victims of circumstances and powerful others.

We have created a world in which children must suppress their natural instincts to take charge of their own education and, instead, mindlessly follow paths to nowhere laid out for them by adults.

The reality, as I will show later, is that alternative ways have been tested and have succeeded. Children’s instincts for self-directed learning can work today as well as they ever did. When provided with freedom and opportunity, children can and do educate themselves marvelously for our modern world.

Children did not adapt well to forced schooling, and in many cases they rebelled. This was no surprise to the adults. By this point in history, the idea that children’s own preferences had any value had been pretty well forgotten. Brute force, long used to keep children on task in fields and factories, was transported into the classroom to make children learn.

Francke believed that the most effective way to break children’s will was through constant monitoring and supervision in school. 

In the early nineteenth century, roughly three-quarters of the population in the United States, including slaves, were literate, and percentages in most of Europe were comparable.

The primary educational concern of leaders in government and industry was not to make people literate, but to gain control over what people read, what they thought, and how they behaved.

The peasants were becoming increasingly difficult to control, uprisings were common, and talk of revolution filled the air. German educational leaders promoted compulsory state-run schooling primarily as a means to turn the peasants into loyal, well-behaved German citizens.

Other countries followed suit. Schooling came to be seen as a state function that was essential for national security, not unlike the army. The state’s power to forcibly conscript children into schools was understood as comparable to the state’s power to conscript young men into the army. In France, Napoleon came to view schooling as a first step in military training.

We still have, especially in primary schools, mostly female teachers and male principals, and the principal is still charged with making sure that teachers follow the prescribed curriculum and that students obey the teacher. The school became, in some ways, a polygamous version of the hierarchical early twentieth-century family, with the man in a position of authority, the women working directly with children, and the children at the bottom. The task of the student, then as now, was to be punctual and obedient, to pay attention, to complete assignments on schedule, and to memorize and feed back.

Today most people think of childhood and schooling as indelibly entwined. We identify children by their grade in school. We automatically think of learning as work, which children must be forced to do in special workplaces, schools, modeled after factories. All this seems completely normal to us, because we see it everywhere. We rarely stop to think about how new and unnatural all this is in the larger context of human evolution and how it emerged from a bleak period in our history that was marked by child labor and beliefs in children’s innate sinfulness.

Children don’t like school because to them school is—dare I say it—prison. Children don’t like school because, like all human beings, they crave freedom, and in school they are not free.

Everyone who has ever been to school knows that school is prison, but almost nobody beyond school age says it. It’s not polite. We all tiptoe around this truth because admitting it would make us seem cruel and would point a finger at well-intentioned people doing what they believe to be essential.

A prison, according to the common, general definition, is any place of involuntary confinement and restriction of liberty. In school, as in adult prisons, the inmates are told exactly what they must do and are punished for failure to comply. Actually, students in school must spend more time doing exactly what they are told to do than is true of adults in penal institutions. Another difference, of course, is that we put adults in prison because they have committed a crime, while we put children in school because of their age.

Another term that I think deserves to be said aloud is forced education. Like the term prison, this term sounds harsh. But again, if we have compulsory education, we have forced education. The term compulsory, if it has any meaning at all, means that the person has no choice about it.

According to our democratic system of values, it should be immoral to incarcerate children because of their age unless we have proven that children—all children within the specified age range—are a danger to themselves or others without such incarceration. No such proof exists, and as I will show, there is much evidence to the contrary.

A fundamental psychological principle (discussed in Chapter 7) is that anxiety inhibits learning. Learning occurs best in a playful state of mind, and anxiety inhibits playfulness.

Note: Neocortex shuts down in the presence of fear.. leaving it up to the reptilian

Today we rarely use the cane, though corporal punishment is still legal in twenty US states, and the dunce cap has vanished. But shaming has not.

Note: shame as coercive tool
Our system of grading and ranking to motivate students seems almost perfectly designed to promote cynicism and cheating.
Students understand that the rules distinguishing cheating from not cheating in school are like the rules of a game. But it’s a game they did not choose to play.
In times past, the most frequent cheaters were the “poor students,” who cheated out of desperation. Today, however, the highest incidences of reported cheating are among the “best students,” the ones aiming for the top colleges and graduate schools, the ones who experience the greatest pressures toexcel.
they are perpetually like students, constantly more interested in impressing others than in real achievement. These are the ones who continue to cheat—in science, business, law, politics, or whatever career they pursue. For them, the habit of cheating that was cultivated in school remains for a lifetime.
regardless of the lectures that students might hear in school about the value of helping others, school works against such behavior. By design, it teaches selfishness. The forced competitiveness, the constant grading and ranking of students, contain the implicit lesson that each student’s job is to look out for himself or herself and to do better than others. Indeed, too much help given by one student to another is cheating. Helping others may even hurt the helper, by raising the grading curve and lowering the helper’s position on it.

The law requires that you attend school, regardless of how you are treated. You are not among the minority whose parents have the means and will to send them to a private alternative school or to convince the school board that they can educate them adequately at home. You have no choice. What do you do? If you are like most of the hundreds of thousands of picked-on kids who suffer like this every school day, you somehow suck it up.

Bullying occurs in all institutions where people who have no political power and are ruled in top-down fashion are required by law or economic necessity to remain in that setting.
But despite all the lip service that educators devote to it, most students learn to avoid thinking critically about their schoolwork. They learn that their job in school is to get high marks on tests and that critical thinking interferes. To get a good grade, you need to figure out what the teacher wants you to say and then say it. I’ve heard that sentiment expressed countless times by college students as well as by high school students, in discussions held outside the classroom.
In a system in which we teachers do the grading, few students are going to criticize or even question the ideas we offer, and if we try to induce criticism by grading for it, we generate false criticism.
It may even be fair to say that teachers in our school system are no freer to teach as they wish than are students to learn as they wish.
People naturally want to make sense of their world. That, to Greenberg, is the essence of human curiosity.
If all public schools in the United States followed the Sudbury model, hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money would be saved each year.
Mitra’s experiments illustrate how three core aspects of our human nature—curiosity, playfulness, and sociability—can combine beautifully to serve the purpose of education.
In Mitra’s demonstrations in India, curiosity led children to approach and manipulate the computer, playfulness led them to become skilled at using it, and sociability caused the new knowledge and skills to spread like wildfire from child to child.
If you want to see the raw emotions of curiosity and discovery writ large on the face of a scientist who doesn’t hide emotions, watch any normal nine-month-old baby exploring a new object.
Children in school are more or less continuously evaluated, and the concern for evaluation and pleasing the teacher (or, for some, rebellion against pleasing the teacher) often overrides and subverts the possibility of developing genuine interests.
Curiosity, playfulness, and meaningful conversation are all thwarted in school, because they require freedom.
When research subjects believe their performance is being observed and evaluated, those who are already skilled become better and those who are not so skilled become worse.

Evaluation has this pernicious effect because it produces a mind-set that is opposite from the playful state of mind, which is the ideal state for learning new skills, solving new problems, and engaging in all sorts of creative activities.

Note: spaces of permission with nothing to prove..
the freedom to quit is such a crucial aspect of the definition of play. Without that freedom, rules of play would be intolerable.
Geniuses often seem to be those who somehow retain, into adulthood, the imaginative capacities of small children.
The mind at play is alert, but not stressed.
The Power of Play Lies in Its Triviality
Perhaps play would be more respected if we called it something like “self-motivated practice of life skills,” but that would remove the lightheartedness from it and thereby reduce its effectiveness. So, we are stuck with the paradox. We must accept play’s triviality in order to realize its profundity.
In the informal game, keeping your playmates happy is far more important than winning, and that’s true in life as well.
To be a good player of informal sports you can’t blindly follow rules.
Adult direction leads to the assumption that rules are determined by an outside authority and thus not to be questioned. When children play just among themselves, however, they come to realize that rules are merely conventions, established to make the game more fun and more fair, and can be changed to meet changing conditions. For life in a democracy, few lessons are more valuable.
As they move up the ladder from children’s leagues to high school to college to professional, an ever smaller number make the teams. The rest become spectators for the rest of their lives, growing fat in the stands and on the couch—unless they learn to play informally.
Real life is an informal game. The rules are endlessly modifiable and you must do your part to create them. In the end, there are no winners or losers; we all wind up in the same place.
the decline of children’s free play since about 1955 has been accompanied by a continuous rise in anxiety, depression, and feelings of helplessness in young people. Related to these findings, there has also been an increase in narcissism and decline in empathy.
Play is nature’s way of teaching children how to solve their own problems, control their impulses, modulate their emotions, see from others’ perspectives, negotiate differences, and get along with others as equals. There is no substitute for play as a means of learning these skills. They can’t be taught in school. For life in the real world, these lessons of personal responsibility, self-control, and sociability are far more important than any lessons that can be taught inschool.
In the age-segregated environment that we create with conventional schools, contrived means of bringing older children and younger ones into contact may be essential if we want to build up children’s capacity for empathy and compassion.
Freedom is so strong a drive that it can never be fully beaten out of a person, regardless of age.
parents worry about their children’s abilities to make a living more than they did in times past, and this contributes to their increased tendency to view childhood as a time of résumé building rather than a time of play. Somehow, parents believe, if they can get their children into the right adult-directed extracurricular or volunteer activities, get them to achieve high scores on tests, and get them into the most prestigious schools, they can protect their children’s futures. They are wrong, of course, but the perception persists.
My daughter started school so excited and within two or three days was crying and asking to go back to preschool. That eventually passed, but the child that has emerged when she gets home is so different.
We have allowed the schooling system to blind us to the natural ways of children.
You can be happy or unhappy in any profession, but you can’t be happy, at least not for long stretches, if you feel that your life is not yours.
The number of US children of school age (five to seventeen) who are homeschooled grew from about 850,000 in 1999 to an estimated two million or slightly more in 2011, or from about 1.7 percent to nearly 4 percent of the school-age population.
With experience, homeschooling parents become increasingly trustful of their children’s abilities to direct their own education, and some of them becomeunschoolers.
Unschooling is the category of home-based education most compatible with trustful parenting. The term was coined in the 1970s by the educational theorist and former teacher John Holt, in his magazine Growing Without Schooling. Defined most simply, unschooling is not schooling. Unschooling parents do not send their children to school, and at home they do not do the kinds of things that are done at school. They do not establish a curriculum, do not require particular assignments for the purpose of education, and do not test their children to measure progress. Instead, they allow their kids freedom…
In response to our question about the main advantages of unschooling for their family, the majority talked about the positive effects it had on their children’s happiness, assertiveness, or self-confidence; the positive effects it had on their children’s curiosity and learning; and the positive effects it had on family closeness and family life in general.
All in all, unschooling “ungraduates” seem to have no particular difficulty getting into colleges and doing well there if they choose that route, and no particular difficulty getting good jobs with or without college.
The more oppressive the school system becomes, the more it is driving people away,
At some point in the not-too-distant future, I predict, we’ll reach a tipping point. Everyone will know at least one Kate Fridkis, who grew up not doing anything like standard schooling and who is doing just fine in life. People will begin to say things like, “Look at Kate, and Bob, and Mary Jane; none of them went to school and they’re happy, productive, responsible citizens. Why should I send my kids to school if they are unhappy there?
People will begin to demand changes in the laws that make schooling compulsory or that define what schooling has to be, and this will enable more to leave the compulsory system without having to do the legal loop-de-loops that are now required and that keep many from even trying.
History tells us that when people see freedom as a viable option, they choose it. When adults see that coercive schooling isn’t necessary for success in the culture, they will find it hard not to choose freedom for their kids, and the kids themselves will demand it.
Think of what could be done with even a fraction of the roughly $600 billion of taxpayer money that is currently spent on coercive K–12 schools every year in the United States!
Per student, Sudbury schools cost only about half of what we now spend per student on coercive public schools, so this plan would result in great savings to taxpayers. Another possibility would be a system of community centers, open to everyone free of charge.
via carol black rt

“Gray writes how for nearly all of human existence and in many cultures today, children learn without formal education or even from adults at all. Moreover, they learn more complex and challenging…

Original Tweet:

sla to progressive learning to self directed..

Gray suggests that future generations will look back at our current system as barbaric. The more such language sounds overblown, the more value Free to Learn offers..t

maybe joshua would like this: why change outside