Free to learn?

by Lilia Efimova on 8 November 2013

Published from drafts on 16/12/2015

Yesterday I went for a talk by Peter GreyFree to learn: Children educate themselves though free play and exploration.

The talk focused on describing self-directed learning in two environments, hanter-gatherer cultures and the Sudbury Valley School, and then drawing parallels between those two to propose characteristics of the optimal context for self-education:

  1. The social expectation (and reality) that education is children’s responsibility
  2. Unlimited freedom to play, explore, and pursue own interests
  3. Opportunity to play with the tools of the culture
  4. Access to a variety of caring adults, who are helpers, not judges
  5. Free age mixing among children and adolescents
  6. Immersion in a stable, moral, democratic community

I’ve followed Peter’s writing for a while, so many ideas where not particularly new for me, but it’s always nice to hear a story instead of reading blogposts :) What was striking for me was Peter’s enthusiasm for free learning and his strong believe that we as a society will move in that direction sooner or later. He also talked about the adoption of free learning practices. I couldn’t avoid getting into thinking about applying Roger’s work on diffusion of innovation here and getting pessimistic.

Update from 16/12/2015: guess I wanted to get further into looking for the challenges in relation to specific characteristics of innovation below. The text is from old version of Wikipedia article cited in my earlier post Safe-fail probes and diffusion of innovations.

The relative advantage is how improved an innovation is over the previous generation. Compatibility is the second characteristic, the level of compatibility that an innovation has to be assimilated into an individual’s life. The complexity of an innovation is a significant factor in whether it is adopted by an individual. If the innovation is too difficult to use an individual will not likely adopt it. The fourth characteristic, trialability, determines how easily an innovation may be experimented with as it is being adopted. If a user has a hard time using and trying an innovation this individual will be less likely to adopt it. The final characteristic,observability, is the extent that an innovation is visible to others.

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