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Free to Learn

Narrated by: Dan Woren
Length: 9 hrs and 57 mins
5 out of 5 stars (15 ratings)

Non-member price: $39.71

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Publisher's Summary

Our children spend their days being passively instructed and made to sit still and take tests, —often against their will. We call this imprisonment schooling yet wonder why kids become bored and misbehave. Even outside of school children today seldom play and explore without adult supervision and are afforded few opportunities to control their own lives. The result: anxious, unfocused children who see schooling —and life— as a series of hoops to struggle through.

In Free to Learn, developmental psychologist Peter Gray argues that our children, if free to pursue their own interests through play, will not only learn all they need to know but will do so with energy and passion. Children come into this world burning to learn, equipped with the curiosity, playfulness, and sociability to direct their own education. Yet we have squelched such instincts in a school model originally developed to indoctrinate, not to promote intellectual growth.

To foster children who will thrive in today's constantly changing world, we must entrust them to steer their own learning and development. Drawing on evidence from anthropology, psychology, and history, Gray demonstrates that free play is the primary means by which children learn to control their lives, solve problems, get along with peers, and become emotionally resilient. This capacity to learn through play evolved long ago, in hunter-gatherer bands where children acquired the skills of the culture through their own initiatives. And these instincts still operate remarkably well today, as studies at alternative, democratically administered schools show. When children are in charge of their own education, they learn better —and at lower cost than the traditional model of coercive schooling.

A brave, counterintuitive proposal for freeing our children from the shackles of the curiosity-killing institution we call school, Free to Learn suggests that it's time to stop asking what's wrong with our children and start asking what's wrong with the system. It shows how we can act —both as parents and as members of society —to improve children's lives and promote their happiness and learning.

©2013 Peter Gray (P)2018 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"“All kids love learning. Most don't love school. That's a disconnect we've avoided discussing—until this lightning bolt of a book. If you've ever wondered why your curious kid is turning into a sullen slug at school, Peter Gray's Free to Learn has the answer. He also has the antidote." (Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids)

"“[A] well written, well organized and beautifully stated piece of work…. I emphatically recommend this book for any parent as well as any educator or anyone interested in improving education for our society." (Laurette Lynn, UnpluggedMom.com)

"“[E]nergetic… Gray powerfully argues that schools inhibit learning…. [Gray's] vivid illustrations of the ‘power of play to shape an individual are bound to provoke a renewed conversation about turning the tide in an educational system that fosters conformity and inhibits creative thinking." (Publishers Weekly)   

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A complete rethink of current education

Many people in society are worried about rising rates of mental illness and the fact that many children get high grades but then in the real world they don't understand what was taught to them. Free to Play offers a profound rethinking of the schooling system based on modern science but also a look back at hunter gather tribes.

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some fantastic information.

as an unschooler I found a lot of the topics very interesting and have definitely related to the way it was discussed full stop when we first left school or my son was in grade 2

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  • Firecracker
  • 12-09-2018

This is a great book!

Great book!
A lot of information including the history of schools!
Explains the natural ways kids learn. I am so grateful for unschool. All children deserve to be happy with no anxiety.

Kids are being medicated with a sedative just to be able to go to school (this isn't in the book)! This is unacceptable. Some children have Pathological Demand Avoidance and unschool is the way they thrive. There are many other children that could thrive from this as well! It promotes free thinking. We need more free thinkers for outside the box thinking. The medical field in particular REALLY needs this!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Alan Timothy Lester
  • 18-09-2018

Tremendous

life changing information for parents. It's on my list of the 10 most amazing books I've read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • jesi28
  • 25-04-2019

School teacher thoughts

As a public school teacher, now considering unschooling my child, I found this very helpful. It had tons of evidence based stories and research. I’m going to recommend teachers read it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • luke ohalloran
  • 26-10-2019

Communist hypocrite

This guy is very biased and anti-God. He says he’s a Darwinian in the beginning, but then becomes very unbalanced. He doesn’t know his history. The Catholic Church is responsible for many issues-Martin Luther and the reformation set men free to think, believe, learn, worship and live as they saw fit. It created personal responsibility and created a platform for capitalism-which lifted the world out of poverty. Look at the statistics people-compare the poverty level of 150 years ago to modern times. You ought to be thankful you live now. I digress, he acts like “the church” and capitalism ruined the world. I’m all for more freedom with my kids-that’s why my wife and I homeschool and allow them to pursue their interests. His approach is very unbalanced and he obviously has a big problem with a God he doesn’t believe lol. Very contradictory. He acts like the puritans were awful for introducing personal responsibility. And yet wants us to let our children do whatever they want and teach themselves... very frustrating book. He mixes politics (he’s communist/socialist) and anti-religion with how to raise our children.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jandeck
  • 18-10-2019

World changing ideas!

I love this. As an unschooling family, this book has helped give me the confidence to be proud of my choice and not shy away from the decision to tell others. Excellent science based data with storytelling to keep it fresh and entertaining. Read it.

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  • Candice
  • 24-09-2019

Absolute must for parents!

Really opened my eyes to how children develop and deepened my respect for those parents who homeschool and unschool! I will be re-listening to this many times and recommending it to all who are of open mind to alternatives for their children! Thank you!

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  • Luke & Megan
  • 04-09-2019

Great book on the importance of play!

Very eye opening about all the benefits of play. Children learn so much by this activity even though parents may think that they are just wasting their time and need to be learning something else.

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  • Kevin Rojas
  • 30-06-2019

Very interesting and informative.

An amazing book, informs the need for free play and its role for individual development.

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  • Christen
  • 16-03-2019

Finally on Audible

I have had this book on my “to read” list since I was pregnant with my now 6 year old. I’m so glad it’s finally on Audible, it’s as good as I’ve heard and am sharing it far and wide. We need a revolution in our education system and I’m proud to be an unschooling Mama to my two sons.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-03-2019

Wow! Revelations abound. A must-read!

Every parent, teacher, in fact EVERYONE on earth should read/listen to this! Peter Gray should be on everyone's bookshelf. This book changed my life!

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  • Anita Pickavance
  • 24-10-2019

Trust

Has changed my view on education & allowing my son to learn. How to be a trusting parent.

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  • Love.peace
  • 13-10-2019

Amazing

A must read for all. We must start respecting our children. They are the future.

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  • Cheila
  • 24-07-2019

Mind blowing

I already knew there's plenty of problems with the regular school system, but this book really convinced me that homeschooling is the best. If I can find a community of like-minded people with children in the new few years I would love to join this wonderful movement!

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  • woowoo
  • 14-06-2019

Factual, informative, life changing

As a mindful parent considering homeschooling this gave me the confidence that it's right choice.