One of my most favorite topics to follow in the research literature is the biological foundations of education. I love reading about researches going out and studying other cultures, all for the sake of making our own culture more aware. I like to challenge myself and use what is most insightful in my own homeschooling and when I work with kids and families. It’s how I get the most benefit for my effort, at lest that’s my hope. Ironically though, it seems the less I do, the better the educational outcome I sometimes get.
My most recent book love, entitled Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life by author Peter Gray, has enlightened me further to this irony. Through systematic research of his own and sighting of evidence based studies of others studying education, he makes a strong case for letting children learn from play, instead of the more structured, goal oriented, time limiting and peer comparing model kids are often exposed to in the United States. He does this while writing in an easy to read style, while engaging the reader from his own experience of educating his son.
The book starts out with a great hook. Gray recounts a story of his son Scott, telling him along with seven other adults including his principal, his two classroom teachers, the schools guidance counselor, a child psychologist, and his mother to “Go To Hell”. A shocking opener for a book, but Gray quickly adds that he began to see from this point on that he needed to be on Scott’s side, not against him. A brave twist right from the start. I kept reading……..and didn’t stop.
As a home schooler and therapist, I see that a model of freedom in learning could be useful in a variety of different areas of children’s lives. At home, on the playground, in schools, and in our understanding of how we raise our children. In his book, Gray demonstrates through analysis of an alternative school how children can benefit from greater freedom in learning. Through a research article published in the American Journal of Education, he found the graduates were very successful in their chosen career and with a very high percentage report enjoying their experiences as children and in their current field of work.
After reading the book, I took a look at how I was homeschooling and found I and my entire family could benefit from making some adjustments. As having gone through the traditional system of education myself and having myself worked in schools in my career,this book twisted my view a bit on education. In a good way. It really got me thinking of a new frontier that is beckoning in education and in parenting. Simply put, this book is not only for those that home-school, but for anyone who is a parent.
Have I sparked your interest?
Let’s ask ourselves a few questions?
Do we ever feel over scheduled with family activities?
Do we wish we could support our children and not enforce?
Have we ever wondered what benefits there are to play related to learning?
Are their benefits to kids given more freedom in learning?
What happens if we take the testing and comparing our of education?
How do kids learn cooperation and problem solving?
What environments support nurturing as opposed to bullying?
Over the next few weeks, I want to invite you to get your hands on this book. Find it at your local library or at the links above and at the end of the post. I will be blogging on each chapter starting the first week of April, while also beginning to put some of the concepts into practice. The comment section under each blog entry will be open for a week of discussion. It will be exciting to get everyone’s feedback and insights.
I should note, as with everything at Swami Mommi, what is right for some is not right for all. If you like this book, great. If you don’t, that’s OK too. After reading, I hope you will take the time to sit, be quiet and listen. You are your own Swami. You can only care for yourself and family as your own Mommi.
I just ask that the comment section be kept kind. New frontiers can get kind of wild, so let’s make an effort to keep ours honest and peaceful.
Click the link below to buy the book. It is one to hold on to for years to come.
Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life