One of the oddest and most harmful aspects our treatment of children today is our penchant for segregating them into groups by age. We do that not only in schools, but increasingly in out-of-school settings as well. In doing so, we deprive children of a valuable component of their natural means of self-education. Until the modern era of age-graded schooling, children almost always played and explored in age-mixed groups. In this talk, Prof. Gray will present research evidence that older and younger children are naturally drawn to one another and have more to learn from one another than from age-mates. He will explain how younger children acquire advanced physical, social, and intellectual skills through their interactions with older ones, and how older ones enlarge their capacities for leading and nurturing, and retain more of their natural creativity, through interacting with younger ones.
Professor Peter Gray
Research Professor of Psychology, Boston College
Peter Gray is a research professor of psychology at Boston College who has conducted and published research in neuroendocrinology, developmental psychology, anthropology, and education. He is author of an internationally acclaimed introductory psychology textbook (Psychology, Worth Publishers, now in its 7th edition), which views all of psychology from an evolutionary perspective. His recent research focuses on the role of play in human evolution and how children educate themselves, through play and exploration, when they are free to do so. He has expanded on these ideas in his book, Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life (Basic Books). He also authors a regular blog called Freedom to Learn, for Psychology Today magazine. Before joining the faculty at Boston College, he earned his undergraduate degree at Columbia College and Ph.D. in biological sciences at the Rockefeller University, and taught at Hunter College and City College in New York.
Why We Should Stop Segregating Children by Age?