Self Directed # 6 | Peter Gray

Dr Peter Gray - YouTube full

Recorded January 10th, 2023.

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Here you can read more about Dr. Peter Gray

About this Episode  

Peter Gray is such a clear voice regarding understanding the power of unschooling and playing as a tool for learning. As a long-time researcher of learning, Peter knows what he talks about. His blog, Freedom to Learn, is an excellent resource for all parents, and his articles are among the ones I see myself sharing repeatedly. We have for a long time wanted to talk with Peter and are happy to here share with you our dialogue with him. 

About Dr. Peter Gray  

Dr. Peter Gray is a highly regarded researcher, psychologist, and advocate for the unschooling movement. He is best known for his book "Free to Learn," which explores the benefits of self-directed learning and the drawbacks of traditional schooling.

As a professor of psychology at Boston College, Dr. Gray has spent his career studying how children learn and develop. He is particularly interested in the role of play in children's education and has written extensively on the subject.

In addition to his academic work, Dr. Gray is a vocal advocate for unschooling, an educational approach emphasizing learner autonomy and self-directed learning. He believes that children learn best when allowed to pursue their interests and passions rather than being forced to conform to a standardized curriculum.

Through his research and advocacy, Dr. Gray has become a leading voice in the unschooling movement, inspiring parents and educators alike to rethink traditional approaches to education and embrace more child-centered, individualized learning experiences.

6 awesome quotes from Peter Gray's book: "Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life"

“Everyone who has ever been to school knows that school is prison, but almost nobody beyond school age says it is. It's not polite. We all tiptoe around the 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 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.”

“The biggest, most enduring lesson of school is that learning is work, to be avoided when possible.”

“Sadly, in many cases, the assumption that children are incompetent, irresponsible, and in need of constant direction and supervision becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The children themselves become convinced of their incompetence and irresponsibility and may act accordingly. The surest way to foster any trait in a person is to treat that person as if he or she already has it.”

“We have forgotten that children are designed by nature to learn through self-directed play and exploration, and so, more and more, we deprive them of freedom to learn, subjecting them instead to the tedious and painfully slow learning methods devised by those who run the schools.”

“It is nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wreck and ruin without fail. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.”

“The belief that young people are incapable of making reasonable decisions is a cornerstone of our system of compulsory, closely monitored education.”

Clips from this episode

All the research Dr. Peter Gray has done shows the same thing. If you can remove the fear of learning to read and remove outside pressure of that there should be a “correct age” to learn to read - then all children will learn to read. Peter even researched multiple cases o children who had been diagnosed with dyslexia. After moving over to unschooling or a democratic school, the children learned to read - when they choose to, without fear, without pressure.

Read Peters research here

With love


Jesper Conrad 

Self Directed # 5 | Black Dad
Self Directed # 7 | Juliet Silveira


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