Peter Gray is Coming to Austin

2013 February 14
by Elliot

Unleash the Play Instinct: Dr. Peter Gray Visits Austin

AUSTIN—On Tuesday, March 5, from 7 to 8:30pm, Boston College professor and evolutionary developmental psychologist Peter Gray will present compelling evidence for the vital necessity of free play.

Children are born with a natural curiosity, playfulness, and sociability. These instinctive drives enable children to educate themselves by exploring the world. It’s puzzling, then, that our schools feature forced lessons and standardized tests. “How,” asks Gray, “did we come to the conclusion that the best way to educate students is to force them into settings where they are bored, unhappy, and anxious?” Not surprisingly, he has found a direct correlation between the decline of play and the rise in emotional and social disorders among our youth.

In his upcoming book, Free To Learn , Gray offers a proposal to make school more conducive to children’s biologically shaped style of learning. Returning to our hunter-gatherer roots, Gray shows that children learn best in an environment that allows free age-mixing; provides the time and space for children to play and explore freely; and offers access to a free exchange of ideas.

This kind of educational setting exists at places like Austin’s Clearview Sudbury School. Sudbury schools hold to the hunter-gatherers’ core social values of autonomy, sharing, and equality, and are built on the philosophy that each person is directly responsible for his or her own education.

Peter Gray will also be speaking at SXSWedu, and he maintains a popular blog at Psychology Today.

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