I heard Peter Gray speak at the Texas Unschoolers’ Conference last spring. I’d heard him speak before, but this time seemed different. He’s a very casual speaker, sitting on the table and sharing what he knows about children, learning, parents, and research. Lots of research!
Dr. Gray is a research professor at Boston College, is author of Free to Learn and has a blog at Psychology Today. He has conducted and published research in comparative, evolutionary, developmental, and educational psychology. His current research and writing focus primarily on children’s natural ways of learning and the life-long value of play. And he’s come up with some very interesting conclusions.
One simple idea in particular stood out to me, and I’m sure you’ll be interested to hear this!
Over generations and through numerous cultures, play is the “practice” for adulthood. Children play at all kinds of things they’re not doing yet, but they’re watching older kids or adults do. In other cultures, kids play with fire and knives, starting small and moving up as they become more proficient. They play chase and hide-and-seek, as a way to hone hunting skills that were important in the past. (And in some cultures, still today.) Many of us remember playing school – as a practice for when someday we’d go to school.
And here we are in this modern society where CLEARLY videos, TV, electronics, the media of all kinds are here to stay and the wave of the future. No one needs encyclopedia sets anymore, we have Google or Siri. Yet parents are weird about censoring their computer time. It makes no sense. Everything they need is there. They’re prepping for their future!
“Children aren’t growing up for your world; they’re growing up for their world. And they know that…
Computers are the primary tool for our culture.” ~Peter Gray