Dr. Peter Gray

Dr. Peter Gray

Dr. 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 the author of an internationally acclaimed introductory psychology textbook (Psychology, Worth Publishers, now in its 8th 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. He is a founding member and president of the nonprofit Alliance for Self-Directed Education (ASDE), which is aimed at creating a world in which children’s natural ways of learning are facilitated rather than suppressed. He is also a founding board director of the nonprofit Let Grow, the mission of which is to renew children’s freedom to play and explore outdoors, independently of adults. He earned his undergraduate degree at Columbia College and Ph.D. in biological sciences at the Rockefeller University many years ago. His own current play includes kayaking, long-distance bicycling, backwoods skiing, and vegetable gardening.

Mother Nature’s Pedagogy: How Children’s Natural Curiosity, Playfulness and Sociability Serve Their Education
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
12:30-1:45pm EST

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 his own studies of democratic schoolers and unschoolers, Dr. Peter Gray will explain how children’s instincts to explore, play, bond with others, and take charge of their own lives provide the natural foundation for education. He will also describe the conditions in which these educative instincts operate best.