Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life
Here’s an excellent case against our current educational system; it is essential reading for anyone concerned with the way children learn. It is engrossing and importunate, with vigorous and well-supported, fact-based writing that will leave you convinced and convicted. Author Peter Gray reminds us that children are naturally curious, creative, and social, born with an innate drive to explore and desire to learn. The way they learn is through play. But, he compellingly explains, our current educational system destroys play, frequently removing it entirely from children’s days. Free to Learn is a brilliant manifesto, really, pleading with adults to treat children with respect and dignity by allowing them the freedom to direct their own educations.
Children (and adults) learn best when they are self-directed, and, most importantly, playful. Activities should be chosen by the child, with the option to quit at any time—already the contrast with our traditional schools is stark. Gray’s evidence is irrefutable, and the implications of current practice are dismaying. Currently, alternative options are few, but Gray is optimistic that, as more parents reject the current, prison-like system, children will be given back their natural right to be free to learn through play. I hope they will.