Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life

If you subscribe to the belief (or are intrigued by the notion) that the school system enslaves children and interferes with natural and play-based learning, you will enjoy this well-researched unschooling manifesto. Here's a taste:

"We have pushed children into an abnormal environment, where they are expected to spend ever greater portions of their day under adult direction, sitting at desks, listening to and reading about things that don't interest them, and answering questions that are not their own and are not, to them, real questions."

In Free to Learn, Peter Gray carefully outlines what he considers the "seven sins of our system of forced education", discusses education of children in hunter-gatherer cultures, outlines the history of schooling, offers insights from democratic schools and research on self-directed learning, and explores the value of trustful parenting.

Gray argues that our school systems turn children into mindless followers:

"We have lost sight of the natural way to raise children ... of children's competence. We have created a world in which children must suppress their natural instincts to take charge of their own education and, instead, mindlessly follow paths to nowhere laid out for them by adults."

Even if you do not share the author's strong views on self-directed learning and the importance of play, his work will likely spark deep reflection on how systems impact our children and youth.


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