In a very interesting essay on play, evolutionary psychologist Peter Gray explains that the trend towards ever more hours in formalised learning, and ever less time for freedom to play is actually hurting our young people. It’s not, as we’d hope, a road to happier and more successful people. Quite the opposite. Based on research of animals and hunter/gatherer societies, he tells us that free format play is actually the best place for the young to learn and master skills necessary for success and happiness in the communities they grow up in.
The essay of Mr Gray did not just caught my attention beceause I’m about to become a dad, but also because I’m participating in the OpenIDEO creative confidence challenge, for which the central question is: ‘How might we inspire young people to cultivate their creative confidence?’ This challenge is now in the inspiration phase, in which participants are asked to share examples that can inspire ways to answer the challenge question. Now, whether you are going to participate in this challenge or not, I recommend you to browse the things people have shared there. There are some amazing examples of schools, projects, activities that promote creativity to young people.
As a parent-to-be I do sometimes worry that I won’t be able to give my child the needed facilities to learn and experiment; to master the skills needed to be happy and successful in life; to discover passions and talents. But empowered by the knowledge of Mr Gray, and the many wonderful things I discovered in the OpenIDEO challenge, I at least feel now that I have a chance in doing so, and create the opportunities, if they’re not yet available.
On The Neverending Miracle Facebook page, I will regularly share some of the inspirations and ideas from this challenge that catch my eye.