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The Importance of Play: What exactly is play and why is it such a powerful...

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Groton-Dunstable Middle School Performing Arts Center

344-346 Main Steet

Groton, MA 01450

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Join us for this FREE event at the Groton-Dunstable Middle School Performing Art Center.

(Teachers and Administrators - A Certificate of Attendance signed by Dr. Gray will be available after the presentation)


Speaker Dr. Peter Gray will discuss:

The Importance of Play: What exactly is play, and why is it such a powerful vehicle for learning?

Why Free Play is Essential to Children’s Healthy Social, Emotional, and Intellectual Development.

In the United States and in other Western nations there has been a well-documented, dramatic decline, over the last several decades, in children’s freedom to play with other children, in their own chosen ways, without adult direction. Over this same period there has been a dramatic increase in childhood depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders, and a decline in creativity and empathy. In this talk I will present the logic and evidence behind my claim that the decline in free play is a, if not the, major cause of these deleterious effects on children’s emotional, social, and intellectual wellbeing, and I will describe some ways to remedy this social tragedy.

What Exactly is Play, and Why Is It Such a Powerful Vehicle for Learning?

“Play” is a word that we use commonly to refer to children’s preferred activities and to some adult activities. But what, really, is play? In this talk I will define play as activity that is (1) self-chosen and self-directed; (2) motivated by means more than ends; (3) guided by mental rules; (4) includes a strong element of imagination; and (5) is conducted in an alert, active, but relatively non-stressed frame of mind. I will describe these characteristics and show how each of them contributes to play’s educational and developmental value. I will explain why play came about, in natural selection, to promote children’s healthy physical, intellectual, social, moral, and emotional growth and will describe the psychological detriments that have accompanied the decline of play in recent decades.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER:

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. He earned his undergraduate degree at Columbia College and Ph.D. in biological sciences, many years ago, at the Rockefeller University. His own current play includes kayaking, long distance bicycling, cross-country skiing, and vegetable gardening.

Babysitting for this event will be provided at the Peter Twomey Youth Center.

Sign Up for Babysitting Here.



Event Sponsors:

The Florence-Roche Boutwell Parent Teacher Association, Defending the Early Years: A Project of the Progressive Education Network & Kate Cunningham Design.

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Groton-Dunstable Middle School Performing Arts Center

344-346 Main Steet

Groton, MA 01450

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