For the Love of Learning – Natural Learning- Why Play Matters – Epi#20

For the Love of Learning Episode #20

Show Title:

Natural Learning – Why Play Time Matters

Original Air Date:

Monday June 15, 2015  8:00 pm – 10:00 pm EST
Tuesday June 16, 2015 1:00 am – 3:00 am BST

Special Guests:

Dr. Peter Gray
Laura Grace Weldon
Marc Armitage


In the wild, young animals play to practice and develop skills that will aid them their entire lives. Human children gain many of the same benefits from playing. When children play, they exercise their imagination, problem-solving skills, and many other important mental faculties.  Through play, children learn about themselves, their environment, people and the world around them.

Positive play experiences develop positive emotional well-being. When children feel secure, safe, successful and capable, they acquire important components of positive emotional health and contribute to the overall learning in a child’s life.

From Peter Gray, “Children are designed, by nature, to spend huge amounts of time playing freely. That’s how they develop social, emotional, and physical skills, and it’s how they become creators and innovators. It’s how they learn to take charge of their own lives.”

In this episode, we will explore the importance of play, how it relates to learning and how we can best support learners through play.

Bios of Tonight’s Guests:

Dr. Peter Gray

petergrayPeter Gray, research professor of psychology at Boston College, 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. His own play includes not only his writing and research, but also long distance bicycling, kayaking, backwoods skiing, and vegetable gardening. 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.

Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life, is now available in paperback and for the kindle.

See also his Psychology Today blog and and join him on Facebook

Laura Grace Weldon

lauraLaura Grace Weldon is the author of a handbook of natural learning titled Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything and a collection of poetry titled Tending. She lives on Bit of Earth Farm where she works as an editor and indulges in random acts of playfuness.
Read Laura’s blog /

Join the Free Range Learning community on Facebook.

Check out the Free Range Learning book

Contact Laura for coaching 

Check out life on the farm

Marc Armitage

Marc-Armitage-2-copy-2“Contrary to popular opinion the thing that children and young people do more than any other thing when adults are not watching … is play.” – Marc Armitage

Marc Armitage is an independent playworking consultant specialising in the role of children’s play in learning and children’s social worlds. As an expert in his field Marc regularly travels around the world lecturing, researching and consulting on the importance of the role of playing in learning.

Marc specialises in exploring what children and young people do when they are not usually in the presence of adults. In order to understand children’s play and how this knowledge can impact on our practice in playwork, early childhood education and schools we need to know and understand what children ‘do’ not what we think they do but what they actually do in those places and those times in which they have control over their own choices.

“As adults we make a lot of assumptions about children: about what they can do, what they can’t do and about where they spend their free time and what they do there. Very often those assumptions are wrong. It is common to hear adults say that children of today simply do not know how to play anymore – it isn’t true; people also say the traditional games they remember playing as a child are just not around anymore – this isn’t true; and people say children much prefer screen time to playing out – I’m here to tell you that this isn’t true either.”

If we want to understand children and their wider social lives we need to know and understand what they actually ‘do’. This can only be done by actively observing them, especially during those times and those places in which there are usually no adults present such as the journey to and from school; recess time; outside play time in preschool/childcare/kindergarten, the time after school; time at home away from parents; etc.


Malarkey … bringing PLAY and PLAYwork back to the fore.




Lainie Liberti

As always, you can find out more about your host, Lainie Liberti at her website and the alternative education & world schooling project she runs with her teenage son at: You can also connect with her on twitter @ilainie & facebook.

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