Children come into the world exquisitely designed by natural selection to learn about the physical, social, and cultural world around them. In this talk ─ based on cross-cultural research, laboratory studies, and Prof. Gray’s research at alternative educational settings in the United States ─ he will describe how children’s instincts to explore, play, bond with others, and take charge of their own lives provide the natural foundation for education. Prof. Gray will also describe the conditions in which these educative instincts seem to operate best. How can we design educational settings that work with, rather than against, children’s natural ways of learning
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.
Mother Nature’s Pedagogy: How Children’s Natural Curiosity, Playfulness, and Sociability Serve Their Education