John passed an invitation on to attend psychologist Peter Gray's talk about his book, Free to Learn, and the importance of free play. The talk takes place on January 16th at Alpine Valley School in Wheat Ridge, a Sudbury school. In this approach, children are given the freedom to use their time as they wish, mix freely with children of different ages, and be members of a school that is run democratically. At Sudbury schools, students explore the world freely at their own pace and in their own unique ways. Students set their own educational paths, making their education meaningful and relevant.
This model has always intrigued me and what turned into a question for Hope turned into a fifteen minute long conversation with John and Hope about where Horizons fits between the spectrum of the demands of adopting standards like Common Core and an approach like Alpine Valley School. It's always important to revisit the opportunities of self-directed and independent learning our students have.
Peter Gray's states that "central thesis is that children come into the world exquisitely designed, and strongly motivated, to educate themselves. They don’t need to be forced to learn; in fact, coercion undermines their natural desire to learn. What they do need is opportunity. My argument to society at large is that we need to stop thinking about educating children and start thinking about how to provide the conditions that maximize each child’s ability to educate himself or herself. That is what children are biologically designed to do, but to do it well they need conditions that are very, very different from the coercive, deprived conditions of our standard schools."