September 23, 2014

More evidence school test tyrants are hurting our kids

NPR - When it comes to brain development, time in the classroom may be less important than time on the playground.

"The experience of play changes the connections of the neurons at the front end of your brain," says Sergio Pellis, a researcher at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada. "And without play experience, those neurons aren't changed," he says.

Our friends at MindShift have been looking at the role of play in learning. Play is as much a part of childhood as school and an organic way of learning. Check out these articles that dig into play:

Many children in public school are getting less and less time outside, despite the documented benefits of free play.

It is those changes in the prefrontal cortex during childhood that help wire up the brain's executive control center, which has a critical role in regulating emotions, making plans and solving problems, Pellis says. So play, he adds, is what prepares a young brain for life, love and even schoolwork.

But to produce this sort of brain development, children need to engage in plenty of so-called free play, Pellis says. No coaches, no umpires, no rule books.

"Whether it's rough-and-tumble play or two kids deciding to build a sand castle together, the kids themselves have to negotiate, well, what are we going to do in this game? What are the rules we are going to follow?" Pellis says. The brain builds new circuits in the prefrontal cortex to help it navigate these complex social interactions, he says.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Play is as much a part of childhood as school and an organic way of learning."

Public school has only became a part of childhood since the 17th century. Compulsory public school only became compulsory after WW2. For most of human history, school didn't exist, and children learned through play, apprenticeship, interaction with and observation of adults. School is an artificial way of learning, because much of what is being learned is being learned at a remove, from books and lectures, even when real life experience is available. Today, school is only a part of childhood by compulsion, the economic needs of business to have docile but literate workers, and because it offers of free childcare. It only takes a child about 100 hours to learn to read and write, once they are ready, so why do children and teens need to be in school 30 hours a week for 12-13 years. Most of what children learn in school isn't what adults hope they will learn. What I learned in school boils down to, children do not deserve respect. Which is a terrible lesson to be taught, but the whole machinery of schooling sends us unavoidably in that direction. Compelling a child to sit at a desk all day, when they learn better by playing, is hampering their brain development and showing fundamental disrespect.

Play on the other hand is seen in all intelligent animals, and is how evolution designed intelligent creatures to learn.