peter gray – free to learn
she said.. Peter Gray..
[alliance for self-directed education]
The Alliance for Self-Directed Education is a non-partisan voice working to make Self-Directed Education an accessible, normal option for every young person.
launching may 2017
from chicago ideas site:
Peter Gray’s research shows that the inherent playfulness, curiosity and willfulness of children has been honed by natural selection to permit each individual to educate themselves. So why are we educating our younger generation in a way that so explicitly takes away these faculties and replaces them with standardized testing? Explore the power of play and reimagine an effective 21st century education in this powerful and informative talk.
children are biologically designed to educate themselves.. through play and exploration.. we don’t need to educate them.. we need to provide the conditions to allow them to educate themselves…we take those abilities away when we put them in school..we really can do away with schools as we know themthis – supported by a great deal of empirical researchwe surveyed 10 different anthropologists who had studied 7 different hunter gatherer culture on 3 different continents.. how much time are children free to play.. answer from all of them was …
all the time..and in the process they became educatedthey play at the very activities that are hardest to learn,.. and most important for success in their culture..so the question is.. could this work in our culture..not so easy for our kids to be exposed to all we need in our culture, ie: read, write..i would agree.. except sudbury.. operating as a participatory democracy … no curriculum.. no tasks… no grades.. no substitutes for grades.. key to learning is age mixing… younger kids observe what older ones are doing and want to try it.. older kids are learning to care/lead/nurture.. and are also inspired by energy of younger kidsbest evidence that this school works.. comes from studying graduates.. many were pursuing careers of passions/interests they had developed in childhood playmore than 3 dozen of these schools exist..12 min – 6 things needed for children to self-direct learning1. understand learning is up to them2. unlimited opportunity to play3. opportunity to play w/tools of culture4. access to adults who are helpers not judges5. age mixing6. immersion in a stable, moral, demo communitynone of these exist in standard schools todaypeople will look back on us and ask… why on earth did they ever believe coercion was necessary for learning…
Play, by my definition, is, first and foremost, activity that is self-chosenand self-directed. It is activity that you are always free to quit. Activities that are chosen by teachers and directed or evaluated by teachers are not play.Given appropriate environmental conditions, children can and will educate themselves very well through their own, self-directed play (real play) and exploration. We don’t need top-down, coercive schools. This has been proven, repeatedly, through the experiences of democratic schools, where children are truly in charge of their own activities and learning, and of homeschooling families who have adopted the approach commonly called “unschooling,” where there is no imposed curriculum and children learn through their self-chosen, self-directed activities. What children need, to become well educated, is not coercion or imposed curricula or imposed exercises that mascarade as play, but opportunity. Such opportunity includes exposure to the skills and ideas that are important to their society and lots of opportunity to play with those skills and ideas, in their own ways, on their own time course. As I have described in previous posts (and more fully in my recent book), we can provide those opportunities to all, at less trouble and cost than we currently spend on coercive schools.
The Decline of Play and Rise of Mental Disorders
My only objection concerning this award—and it is a big one—lies in the Nobel Committee’s statement, “Children must go to school….” Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world that declared that every child has the right to educational choice?…Millions of children throughout the world are suffering in schools. Some—an increasing number actually—are committing suicide because of what is being done to them in school. But they have no choice. School is compulsory.One of the most offensive examples is in the wording of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of a Child, where Principle 7 includes the words “every child is entitled to receive an education, which shall be free and compulsory.” (Again, the Italics are mine.) ..Such Orwellian doublespeak—the child’s right to be forced to spend day after day, for years, in a place that may seem to the child like prison—exemplifies perfectly our world’s lack of respect for children.
School is a place where children are compelled to be, and where their freedom is greatly restricted — far more restricted than most adults would tolerate in their workplaces.
In recent decades, we have been compelling our children to spend ever more time in this kind of setting, and there is strong evidence (summarized in my recent book) that this is causing serious psychological damage to many of them.
Mitra’s experiments illustrate how three core aspects of human nature — curiosity, playfulness and sociability — can combine beautifully to serve the purpose of education. Curiosity drew the children to the computer and motivated them to explore it; playfulness motivated them to practice many computer skills; and sociability allowed each child’s learning to spread like wildfire to dozens of other children.
Sudbury Valley has been in existence now for 45 years and has hundreds of graduates, who are doing just fine in the real world.
Many years ago, my colleague David Chanoff and I conducted a follow-up study of the school’s graduates. We found that those who had pursued higher education (about 75 percent) reported no particular difficulty getting into the schools of their choice and doing well there once admitted.
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huge – huge – resource – site launched (with Luba) same day as above article:
Peter’s second post since launch of site:
and his third great post since launching alternates to school – the play deficit:
number four? (need to restructure this for easier access… )
S Korea – #1 worry – suicide, ..a word in china now – good at tests but bad at everything elsewhat we need to do is allow learning, not make learningsudbury – opportunity for kids to keep on playing on through teen years – free to make own choice, they are getting interested in things.. so then they want to learn to read, write, about it
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:
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:
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.
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.Note: suffocation.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.
The event features four speakers: me, speaking about homeschooling and unschooling; Cevin Soling, a filmmaker (The War on Kids) speaking about why schools cannot be reformed; Peter Bergson, founder of Open Connections in PA, speaking about community support for learning; and Peter Gray, author ofFree to Learn (Basic Books, 2013), speaking about the importance of play.
3 min – play is the natural way that people learn
5:50 – children play more because they have more to learn
6:45 – children are biologically charged – to look around – Karl Groos
10 min – hunter gatherer study – parameters they create – but understood that you don’t tell people what to do (sounds like Amy teaching us to not say should), no impulse to influence/coerce
hollywood peek into bushman – the god’s must be crazy
17 min – whining
18 min – every answer to how much time do kids get to play – all the time
19 – complete trust – no concept that kids need to be taught/monitored
20 – asked how kids learn – they look around
26 – hunter gatherers see age 4 as the age kids no longer need to be watched over
28 – speaking on sudbury – all needed for learning – is opportunity
30 – study of sudbury students – after sudbury – didn’t seem to be any path in life that had been cut out
31 – age mixing crucial to learning –
32 – age segregation is entirely an artifact of our public school system
33 – six optimal contexts for self-directed learning (via hunter gatherers and sudbury – key – because most other studies study people engrained in public school mentality):
1. social expectation/reality the education is children’s responsibility –
kids sense it is no one else’s job but their own – children have this extraordinary capacity when it’s clear that it is their responsibility – and they do it through play
2. unlimited freedom – (not partial, not recess, not google 20%) – to play and explore
3. opportunity to play with the tools of the culture – not to be taught about them et al, but to play with them
4. access to a variety of caring adults who are helpers not judges – would be mal-adaptive if kids were just stuck on parents – you go to who can fill your need – but it’s your choice, not someone else’s choice
5. free age mixing – less competitive, etc
6. immersion in a stable/moral/democratic community – (much unlike most public schools)
44 min – how much children learn through play – the whole gamut
45 min – judged state of mind – if you already know something.. but destroys learning – allowing the looseness of the mind, the playful state of mind is where thinking occurs, school situation is anxiety provoking
47 – play and social development – key freedom in play – is freedom to quit – something that people who design play – often don’t understand – if you’re not free to quit – bullying is possible, if you are free to quit – bullying is not possible
50 – danger – is learning how to deal with fear and anger – otherwise end up with panic attacks et al
52 – since 1950’s – time to play has decreased, while disorders et al have increased, we have been doing a play deprivation experiment with out children the last 50 years
56 – kids seen in the streets or woods
1:00 – never a time/place where kids were thought so incapable – ie: the teenage brain – it becomes our neural justification – Mike Lanza – playborhood
1:02:11 – but i think even more than that – our job is to stay away
Peter will be speaking here June 10-14, 2013:
tipping point ..
Why are Children Playing?
Published on Dec 26, 2013
Peter Gray, Ph.D., research professor at Boston College about the importance of play for education. – Eudec 2013 interview.
The most important skills that children everywhere must learn in order to live happy, productive, moral lives are skills that cannot be taught in school. Such skills cannot be taught at all. They are learned and practised by children in play. These include the abilities to think creatively, to get along with other people and cooperate effectively, and to control their own impulses and emotions.
Play, by definition, is voluntary, which means that players are always free to quit. If you can’t quit, it’s not play. All players know that, and so they know that to keep the game going, they must keep the other players happy. The power to quit is what makes play the most democratic of all activities.
Some people object, on moral grounds, to experiments in which young animals are deprived of play. What a cruel thing to do. But consider this: over the past 50 to 60 years, we have been continuously decreasing the opportunities for our own children to play.
fitting to Peter’s research et al:
meeting Peter f to f at alpine valley school:
notes via tweets..
hunter gatherers don’t believe in telling children what to do.. so what children do.. play
how much time are hunter gatherer children free to play – all the time.
what do hunter gatherer kids play at? – skills they will end up needing – hunting/gathering/storytelling/arguing
hunter gatherer way of learning also works in our culture as evidenced by @sudburyvalleyschool ‘s
what would happen if we allowed children to continue same intense curiosity throughout their lives
@SVS_School alumni feel they are more in control of their life, know how to figure things out-
if the world is surrounded by written word – you learn to read. helps when pressure to read is gone.
the kind of math all of us use in life.. you pick up playing.. in life.
if you learn how to learn – you can get yourself prepped for act/sat – cake –
# of cases where what kids were playing at (at @SVS_School ) is what they then later did as career
playing at future career – allows kids to become expert (during the thousands of hours we call school)
we can’t say education is the child’s responsibility and then tell them what to do..
when you know you’re in charge of your own life – you take charge. trust begets trustworthiness
need unlimited time/freedom to play – time to get bored and let boredom move your soul
need complete freedom with real tools – when you get freedom with a tool.. that is what allows it to become an extension of your own body –
access to variety of nonjudgemental (no agenda ness) adults –
empathy/kindness is learned in play – otherwise others will quit. learn how to get along, deal w/anger –
major rule of play – ability to quit. if you can’t quit.. it’s not play.
5-8 fold rise in major depression /anxiety disorders in children last 60 yrs –
four fold rise in suicide rate for children under age 15 over last 60 yrs, decreased empathy –
can’t play w/o taking into account your playmate – otherwise they’ll quit.
in social play – great deal of time spent in negotiation
learn to deal with fear in play
panic attacks – disorders – on rise – perhaps because of less time to play
trust children – so that natural ways to learn will once again be effective
the power of play lies in its triviality –
play is something you are doing just for the sake of doing it – no evaluating/approval
when you believe you are being evaluated – inhibits creativity – you stick to what you know
if the only place they feel freedom is the virtual world.. that’s where they’ll play.. –
telling kids to go play outside today.. w/very few kids outside. kids are drawn to others.
city as school ness – setting a city free to play – huge – unschooling (if it is) difficult – because of this.. deep down.. many parents would opt to play as well.. city as that rich resource – like a wealthy unschooling family – redefine nclb.. ness
let’s find/figure out ways to awaken outsideness. ie: bring back neighborhood ness ie: @playborhood –
you can’t play a computer game w/o being attentive. way different that watching tv. –
seems only thing computer games don’t increase is muscle mass..
age mixing draws people out of themselves and into life..
Peter reviews danah boyd‘s – it’s complicated:
aero talk may 2013:
1:36 q&a about kids/tv/outdoors – the need for everyone to get to play.. because even if you truly are letting your kid have freedom to play.. many others aren’t.. so there is no one to play with.. study – 80% chose playing outside w/friends over computer…
Peter speaks at Alpine Valley School – jan 2014:
survey of grown unschoolers:
Here’s _The Play of Man_ available to download and read. https://t.co/HhlZrTGwHZ #isf14
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/budtheteacher/status/518106824638095360
interviewer – from angle of empowering the dyslexic learner – re- exploring intrinsic motivation
on How Doing Better in School Makes Doing Better in Life Harder
human beings come into the world pre-disposed to educate themselves..
education really means cultural transmission
this passing on ness happened – not because adults were intent on passing it on, but because children were intent on acquiring it
in school – in order for us to educate them – we take away all those natural ways, ie: curiosity.. play..
12 min – his son – adults all united telling him he had to obey. we realized we had to be on his side. ..we realized those schools weren’t different enough. sudbury was.
17 min – i wondered if he stayed in this school, if he would be cutting his options.. so i started researching former students of sudbury. about 70 of them. this study absolutely convinced me that the school (sudbury) works toward any path. not a single one of these graduates that regretted going to the school (from the 90% that agreed to do the study – so 65ish) – felt they were more in control of their learning.. maintained a love for learning… knows how to make decisions.. how to think things through.. instead of growing up thinking your life is controlled by others..
28 min – we have this notion that intrinsic motivation dies down – that at some point we need someone to kick our butt to get us to do something. that has not been the experience that i’ve seen. we know every 2, 3, 4 yr olds that have never been to school, think of all they’ve learned with no one teaching them. by the age of 4.. learned a pretty good notion of what they’ll ever know. all that without school. imagine that drive continuing on.
30 min – when kids are learning on their own, with their own motivation, they learn so much more efficiently and quickly. they may not learn on schedule of the school. whenever they learn they learn pretty quickly. they learn when they’re ready. there’s no critical period for learning to read. there may be a critical period for learning to speak your native language.
learning (to read) when they have a reason to.
32 min – some of us who have gone to school have lost touch with our intrinsic motives – we’ve gotten used to pleasing people – we suppress these aspects of ourselves and then it may be hard to rediscover ourselves again later on
34 min – 2 ways to recapture yourself – 1) on how you spend your free time – what do you imagine yourself doing – by doing something (like biking/walking) that frees your mind to really think about it 2) on adult play – child play as the major part of their life. when you are an adult you are not playing a large part of the time because you have to be responsible… so some things you have to do. we’re lucky as adults if those things we have to do we can do in a playful way ie: sense of choice,.. how we do it.. focus on activity rather than just the end
42 min – is it more important to do all you can do in what others define as status.. or is it more important to do al you can do at what you love. we’re so conditioned of going step by step and somebody determining the next step for us. what’s equivalent to getting the a.
44 min – (asking about period of detox) – those who have done the best in school have the hardest time turning it around.
46 min – sudbury and unschooling (grads) i’ve researched – tend to go into careers i would categorize as play – creativity embedded.. they tend not to go into middle management careers.. assembly line type jobs.. so when you ask them about their career – they’ll say i’m just doing what i used to play at. the luxury to play when they were little.
53 min – east cambridge project – redesign of public space – adventure playground – facilitated by a lifeguard like
Peter succinct again on the importance/naturalness of play.
Play, by definition, is always voluntary, and that means that players are always free to quit. If you can’t quit, it’s not play. All normal children have a strong biological drive to play with other children. That’s part of human child nature—an extraordinarily important part of it. In such play, every child knows that the others can quit at any time and will quit if they are not happy. Therefore, to keep the fun going, each child is motivated to keep the other children happy. To do that, children must listen to one another, read into what they are saying, and, in general, get into one another’s mind so as to know what the other wants and doesn’t want. If a child fails at that and consistently bullies others or doesn’t take their views into account, the others will quit, leaving the offending child alone. This is powerful punishment that leads the offender to try harder next time to see from others’ points of view. Thus, in their social play, children continuously practice and build upon their abilities to empathize, negotiate, and cooperate.
feb 4 2015 – global school play day:
may 2015 – early academic training produces long term harm:
The children from the play-based preschools were now performing better, getting significantly higher school grades, than were those from the academic preschools,..
how crazy are we that we still decide how we treat human beings… children.. by their grades/test-scores.
An Experiment in Which Chidren from Poverty Were Followed up to Age 23 (1967)
by age 23, 39% of those in the Direct Instruction group had felony arrest records compared to an average of 13.5% in the other two groups; and 19% of the Direct Instruction group had been cited for assault with a dangerous weapon compared with 0% in the other two groups.
Those in classrooms that emphasized academic performance may have developed lifelong patterns aimed at achievement, and getting ahead, which—especially in the context of poverty—could lead to friction with others and even to crime (as a misguided means of getting ahead).
how do we bury/hide/privilege ourselves so much in research.. and then not act on it. enough of us know better.. no? so why aren’t we changing more. is it really that the system depends on us frozen..? or that we just feel frozen.. unable to be heard..? or.. does it really have a ton to do with sync..? and perhaps maybe… maybe now we can.
hoping/going for that.
on sports 2009:
Real life is an informal sport, not a formal one. The rules are endlessly modifiable and you must do your share to create them. There are in the end no winners or losers–we all wind up in the same place. Getting along with others is far more important than beating them. What matters in the end is how you play the game, how much fun you have along the way, and how much joy you give to others. Live life like a sandlot ball game. And, please, let your child go out to play–with other kids, while you stay home or do something else that you would like to do. In play, no matter how loving your relationship, your child is better off without you. Click below for more on what children learn in sandlot games.
THE BIOLOGICAL DISTINCTION BETWEEN PLAY AND CONTEST. In nonhuman animals, play and contests are sharply distinct. Play is cooperative, egalitarian, and fun; and contests are antagonistic, serious, and aimed at establishing dominance. Hunter-gatherer humans accentuated play and avoided contests in order to maintain the high degree of cooperation and sharing that was essential to their way of life. In our society, with our competitive games, we often confound play and contest. What might be the consequeces of this for children’s development?
The joy of school letting out is not just superficial and fleeting. Data from one children’s mental health center indicate that children are far more likely to experience psychological breakdowns during the school year than during the summer. School is bad for children’s mental health as well as their physical health.
posted by Peter on fb sept 2015 – from 2009 (hunter gatherer parenting)
Have you ever noticed how we, as a society, use agricultural metaphors to talk about parenting and education? We speak of RAISING children, just as we speak of raising tomatoes or chickens. We speak of TRAINING children, just as we speak of training horses. Our manner of talking and thinking about parenting suggests that we own our children, much as we might own domesticated plants and livestock, and that we control how they grow and behave. Hunter-gatherers did not have agricultural metaphors, and their approach to parenting was very different, and much more trusting and playful, than ours. I think we have much to learn from them.
perhaps too – much to learn about property itself.. in regard to ie: agriculture..
In past essays I have talked about hunter-gatherers’ playful approaches to (a) government, (b) religion, and (c) productive work. Now, in this essay, I describe their playful approach to parenting.
ie: (partial of his bullets)
- “Hunter-gatherers do not give orders to their children; for example, no adult announces bedtime.
- “The idea that this is ‘my child’ or ‘your child’ does not exist [among the Yequana, of South America]. Deciding what another person should do, no matter what his age, is outside the Yequana vocabulary of behaviors. There is great interest in what everyone does, but no impulse to influence–let alone coerce–anyone.
- “Aborigine children are indulged to an extreme degree, and sometimes continue to suckle until they are four or five years old. Physical punishment for a child is almost unheard of.”
- “Infants and young children [among Inuit hunter-gatherers of the Hudson Bay area] are allowed to explore their environments to the limits of their physical capabilities and with minimal interference from adults.
- “Ju/’hoansi children [of Africa] very rarely cried, probably because they had little to cry about.
on this causing spoiled children.. h/g love/protect/trust…
Anthropologists commonly use the termindulgence to characterize the hunter-gatherer style of parenting, but I think the more fundamental concept here is trust. Parents indulge children’s desires because they trust children’s instincts and judgments. They believe that children know best what they need and when they need it, so there are no or few battles of will between adults and children.
part of why we think we see spoiled people and that this doesn’t work is that we believe in partial trust. but partial or regulated or specified or judgmental trust is no trust.. so we.. haven’t yet seen what people are really like…
People who are trusted from the very beginning usually become trustworthy. People treated in this way do not grow up to see life as a matter of trying to overpower, outsmart, or in other ways manipulate others.
That is the attitude that I have been describing throughout this series as the playful approach to life–the approach that brings out the best aspects of our humanity.
Play, as I have said repeatedly in this series, requires individual freedom. Play is no longer play when one person attempts to dominate another and dictate what they do.
posted by Peter on fb sept 2015 from 2009
The usual debate between traditionalists and progressivists in education has to do with means of control. Both sides agree that the educator’s job is to ensure that children learn a certain curriculum, but they differ on the means of achieving that goal. Traditionalists believe in the direct approach: You tell students what they need to learn; you use direct and open power-assertive means, with lots of drill, to try to make them learn it; you test them on it; and then you go through the whole process again if they didn’t learn it the first time. Progressivists believe in the indirect approach: You know what it is that the children should learn and you feel it is your responsibility to get them to learn it, but, to the degree possible, you try to do it through means that do not involve any obvious power assertion. You try to do it by calling forth children’s natural learning activities, including play and exploration, and by subtly guiding those activities so that the children will “discover,” on their own, the right answers and not the wrong ones. That, of course, is the method of Rousseau. In this debate I find it hard to prefer one view over the other; I agree with neither.
Rousseau’s fundamental error, and that of essentially all modern educators, is the belief that the secret to education lies in the capacities of the teacher. It does not; it lies in the capacities of the children. Children educate themselves.
spinach or rock ness
2/ i don’t see sudbury ness at getting at us. better. closer. but… ie: that last sentence..
children educate themselves..
perhaps this only happens in a true hunter gatherer and/or natural environment. sudbury is not that. ie: heavy on kid population; meetings to decide rules; people still talking about successes/comparisons with other kids in schools. did hunter gatherers do these things..? sudbury et al seems a subtle guide as well.. perhaps not to a right/wrong answer.. but to an assumed (ie: democratic ness) lifestyle.
Unlike Rousseau’s fantasy, Sudbury Valley is not a pipe dream. It has been operating successfully for over 40 years, at a cost per student far less than that of the local public schools and at far less trouble, and more joy, for all involved. It has hundreds of graduates, succeeding in all walks of life. It’s high time that the education professors of the world took a serious look at it.
what if many of the – graduates, succeeding in all walk s of life – is subtly still perpetuating a way of life that is not us. ie: believe in a graduation, getting a job, earning money… live in a world with refugees, slaves, prisoners, ..
i keep wondering if all the successful people, ie: doctors, lawyers, et al.. would be ok if their – occupation – became irrelevant.
[reminder – this is my self-talk. wondering quietly aloud.]
Is Real Educational Reform Possible? If So, How?
There is no way that gradual change in our current schooling system can result in the kind of educational reform that I am calling real reform. The small steps in what would seem to be the right direction, urged on by the progressive educators, fail within this system. They fail because they don’t work when taken one by one or just a little at a time. A little “freedom” in a system where success is measured by tests doesn’t work, because free children don’t choose to learn the test answers. “Play” in a setting where children are segregated by age and are constrained in what they can play at is not a particularly effective learning tool.
spot on.. and why i question ie: sudbury working… it’s not hunter gatherer enough.. it too is.. just a little (a lot more but still just a little) at a time.. mentioning segregation of children by age.. as downfall.. so.. perhaps segregating into school of any sort… ie: away from most adults.. away from streets and everyday life ness..
loc 1235 – Peter Gray.. published essay: why zimbardo’s prison experiment isn’t in my textbook……… this is a study of prisoners and guards, so their job clearly is to act like prisoners and guards – or, more accurately, to act out their stereotyped views of what prisoners and guards do.
Much research has shown that participants in psychological experiments are highly motivated to do what they believe the researchers want them to do.
first found here (above) while reading Jon Ronson‘s so you’ve been publicly shamed
essay from Peter here:
fb share via Peter..jan 2016 (post from then as well):
“CHILDREN, WOULD YOU PLEASE pick up your pencils and do Problems 1 through 8 in your workbooks?” The grammar is that of a polite question, as if the teacher were asking a favor and the children had a choice. But every child knows that this is not a question; it’s an order. So, why not state it as one? Why the hypocritical pretense that the children are complying from their own free will rather than because they are being ordered around and have no choice? Click below to read on:
Peter share on fb:
WE ALREADY HAVE the capacity to provide the basic needs of everyone on the planet with relatively little human labor. Most work that people do today is unnecessary. If we could solve the economic problem of how to distribute resources through means not involving long hours of useless work, what would life be like? Here’s my view on it, as I expressed it in an interview on the David Pakman show:
natural for human beings to want to do interesting things.. and if we had the time to do it..
work is a new invention..
hunter gatherers.. the original affluent society.. not because they had much.. but that they didn’t need much..
not much work needs to be done these days.. in this ironic situation.. easier than ever before to provide for all our needs.. and yet all working way more than we need to be.. if we could solve that problem.. we would all be much happier..
7 min – on people being lazy – look at little kids.. free to do what they want.. are they just lazy.. that capacity isn’t unique to little kids…
9 min – where a significant number of adults.. have the leisure to play
we’ve been suppressing that nature for 2000-3000 yrs..
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..
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..
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..
Peter shares on fb:
MY MOST RECENT post at Psychology Today:
There’s something about approaching age 73 that leads me to think it’s OK, just this once, to get a bit autobiographical and act as if an account of some of my life experiences might be useful to others. Please forgive me. And yes, I know, 73 isn’t really that old. But humor me; let me pretend I’m one of the wise elders of the tribe. … The secret to health, fitness, and I might add happiness, for me, lies largely in my never-ending drive to save money..
It’s hard for me to imagine how anyone could enjoy lifting weights or running around a track or swimming back and forth in a chlorine-filled pool. No wonder they call it a workout. My exercise has always been play.
Peter in schools of trust doc … starting at 9 min
10 min – why are children playing.. because they are instinctively driven to play
the way i define play is that it has to be controlled by the people who are playing
11 min – all of higher order thinking involves imaginations