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Free to Learn Hardcover – 21 Mar 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (21 Mar 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465025994
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465025992
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 65,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Laurette Lynn, Unplugged Mom.com "[A] well written, well organized and beautifully stated piece of work...I emphatically recommend this book for any parent as well as any educator or anyone interested in improving education for our society." Mothering.com "[Free to Learn is] a powerful agent of transformation. I'd like to put a copy in the hands of every parent, teacher, and policy maker." Publishers Weekly "[E]nergetic...Gray powerfully argues that schools inhibit learning... [Gray's] vivid illustrations of the 'power of play' to shape an individual are bound to provoke a renewed conversation about turning the tide in an educational system that fosters conformity and inhibits creative thinking." Frank Forencich, author of Exuberant Animal and Change Your Body, Change the World "Free to Learn is a courageous and profoundly important book. Peter Gray joins the likes of Richard Louv and Alfie Kohn in speaking out for a more humane, compassionate and effective approach to education." Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of How the Mind Works "Peter Gray is one of the world's experts on the evolution of childhood play, and applies his encyclopedic knowledge of psychology, and his humane voice, to the pressing issue of educational reform. Though I am not sure I agree with all of his recommendations, he forces us all to rethink our convictions on how schools should be designed to accommodate the ways that children learn." Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids "All kids love learning. Most don't love school. That's a disconnect we've avoided discussing--until this lightning bolt of a book. If you've ever wondered why your curious kid is turning into a sullen slug at school, Peter Gray's Free to Learn has the answer. He also has the antidote." David Sloan Wilson, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Biology and Anthropology, Binghamton University, and author of Evolution for Everyone "The modern educational system is like a wish made in a folk tale gone horribly wrong. Peter Gray's Free to Learn leads us out of the maze of unforeseen consequences to a more natural way of letting children educate themselves. Gray's message might seem too good to be true, but it rests upon a strong scientific foundation. Free to Learn can have an immediate impact on the children in your life." Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, author of Einstein Never Used Flash Cards and A Mandate for Playful Learning in Preschool "A compelling and most enjoyable read. Gray illustrates how removing play from childhood, in combination with increasing the pressures of modern-day schooling, paradoxically reduces the very skills we want our children to learn. The decline of play is serious business." Stuart Brown, M.D., Founder and President, The National Institute for Play, and author of Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul "Peter Gray's Free to Learn is profoundly necessary as a fundamental illumination of the continuing tragedy and entrapment of both kids and their teachers in a generally failing and failed educational system. Gray demonstrates through science and evolutionary biology that the human species is designed to play, is built through play, and that for kids, play equals learning. Free to Learn is timely, paradigm shifting, and essential for our long term survival as adaptive humans."

About the Author

Peter Gray is a research professor in the Department of Psychology at Boston College. The author of Psychology, a highly regarded college textbook, he writes a popular blog called Freedom to Learn for Psychology Today. He lives in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.

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Format: Hardcover
According to Peter Gray. he wrote this book in response to the implications and consequences of a school-centric model for childhood development: "The school system has directly and indirectly, often unintentionally, fostered an attitude in society that children learn and progress primarily by doing tasks that are directed and evaluated by adults, and that children's own [informal, self-directed] activities are wasted time...Related to this anti-play attitude is an ever-increasing focus on children's [begin italics] performance [end italics], which can be measured, and decreasing concern for true learning, which is difficult or even impossible to measure. What matters in today's educational world is performance that can be scored and compared across students, across schools, and even across nations to see who is better [who scores higher] and who is worse [who scores lower]. Knowledge that is not part of the school curriculum, even deep knowledge, doesn't count."

Credit Gray with brilliant use of sequences to explain the development of a key concept or the steps/stages of a key process. For example, seven reasons why children don't like school; lessons to be learned from exemplary schools (e.g. Sudbury Valley School); universal types of children's play; five of the most valuable lessons to be learned from children's informal, self-directed ways of playing games such as baseball that formal, adult-directed games do not; three primary styles of parenting (i.e. trustful, directive domineering, and directive-protective; reasons for the decline in trustful parenting; and how to become a more trustful parent.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dr. K. Bain on 20 Dec 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Moving out of the mainstream requires trust. Letting children learn self-directed requires even more trust. And sometimes it can be scary to not measure and control your child's learning. That is where Peter Gray's book Free to Learn comes in. Peter Gray was a sceptic, he was a worried parent whose son embarked on a free learning journey and he is an academic who looked to research to get piece of mind. This book uses research to make the case for free learning or life learning. Peter Gray describes why this is a suitable and better way to learn and he takes away all doubts. He looks at adult free learners and how they found their place in society, he looks at how parents can support their children and how schools can open up. As a parent of two free learners this is the book I will always go back to when I have a wobble. I highly recommend this book to every parent and teacher who is interested in an alternative way to learning that uses the child's natural curiosity to learn and supports their interests and passions rather than relying on a set curriculum and standardised tests.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Guy Wilson on 6 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Disenchanted with the schooling system? Want to know how kids REALLY learn? Want to help your child to find their passion and purpose in life, retain their curiosity, gumption, wit, heart and soul? This easy-to-digest,inspirational book will give you a thorough grounding into how to give children the best possible start in life and help them to lead happy, confident lives. The first book in decades that can inspire anyone from policy-makers to parents to re-structure the system. The future of real education starts here.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Loved the depth and breadth of Gray's research sources, especially drawing on lessons from gatherer-hunters. A challenging and inspiring book for schoolers and unschoolers alike, Gray's premise is deep yet simple: can we trust our kids / ourselves to learn what we all need to learn in a playful way whilst retaining the freedom to quit.
I would question certain aspects of the books seemingly uncritical-undiscerning view on technology and broader issues of social and ecological justice, or, in other words, it could be improved with an analysis of how the role of the habitat where we learn influences the quality and healthiness of how and what we learn.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm totally absorbed by this excellently written book, despite having read other books on a similar theme. The portrait of the hunter-gatherer cultures, set against the massive cultural shifts that the rise of agriculture imposed, is fascinating, and really helps to put into perspective our generally warped modern day attitudes to education. This is a very important book, not only if you are into education, but if you wish to understand where we are going as a species, and what we could do about it: starting with releasing our children from the straitjacket they call school.
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By Missy on 25 July 2014
Format: Hardcover
I thought Free to Learn might simply be a rant about all the problems with traditional schooling, but it was so much more.
Gray certainly does explain in depth the problem with our current model of schooling which is all about the forced confinement of children. However, he also explains beautifully why and how play is so vital to children's development, and the damage we do by so greatly restricting such an important part of childrens' development. Definitely worth a read and I hope it will open a lot of eyes.
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