Dr. Peter Gray On Self-Directed Education (2018 Podcast Series)

Peter GrayDr. Peter Gray is a research professor of psychology at Boston College, and author of Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life. Peter serves on the Organizing team for the Alliance For Self-Directed-Education. He also runs a blog on Psychology Today called Freedom to Learn, where he regularly explains and promotes self-directed education from a variety of angles.


[PODCAST] #542: Foundations of Self-Directed Education

Today Peter and I discuss how he distinguishes school from education, how school is disruptive to our "educative instincts," and the biological foundations of self-directed education. In other words, children come into the world biologically designed to learn. These foundations include:
- Curiosity: the need to make meaning out of our surroundings
- Playfulness: physical, but also related to risk-taking, language games, rules, imagination, logic, building, and using the tools of culture
- Sociability: a desire to share what is being learned
- Planfulness: thinking ahead, "self-directed executive functioning"

Foundations of Self-Directed Education

[PODCAST] #543: School's Impact On Creativity and Critical Thinking

Continuing our conversation on self-directed education, Peter and I discuss creativity and critical thinking - two skills we agree are left underdeveloped (or even damaged) by public school and college. This track leads us into a more general conversation about current college problems, including the anti-intellectual and anti-critical thinking trends of the recent years.

On critical thinking, Peter has referenced studies and surveys that reveal about 50% of employers are dissatisfied with entry-level, college graduate employees (PayScale Inc.) and that college does little to improve higher level thinking (Academically Adrift: Limited Learning On College Campuses - 2011).

On creativity, Peter wrote a piece called As Children’s Freedom Has Declined, So Has Their Creativity. Peter informs us that there are actually quantitative studies, including the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, that show a marked decline in children's creative capacity since the 1980s. We discuss the causes of this decline in detail.

We finish with a friendly disagreement (then agreement) on the educational merits of video games.

Peter Gray

[PODCAST] #544: A Future of Self-Directed Education

My marathon conversation with Peter Gray concludes with an exploration of Peter's vision for the future. It's a bold vision, but he describes the observations that led him to believe it will become a reality for more and more children and families in the coming years. The future is self-directed education.

The Three Phases:
1. Discovery, learning about the world, the self and how the two fit together
2. Career Exploration, community/professional immersion, apprenticeship opportunities
3. Credentialing For Specialized Work, the Praxis idea of a better credential than the college degree

Other Questions:
-Does Peter have hope for government adoption of self-directed education? Publicly supported options?
-How does education change? Considering the massive school bureaucracy.
-Are unschoolers finding professional satisfaction?
-How do schools like Sudbury help with career exploration?
-Is Peter familiar with the mission of Praxis?

A Future of Self-Directed Education

Related Shows: Self-Directed Education

[POD511] Forced Learning Is Too Dangerous (With James Davis)
[POD513] Building Self Directed Learning Communities (With Diane Murphy)
[POD504] Unenclosed Children and Self-Directed Learning (With Kerry McDonald)
[POD378] An Introduction To Self-Directed Learning and Living For Teens (with Nick Hazelton)

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