Biological Foundations of Learning-Gray

I’m a big fan of Dr. Peter Gray’s thinking on self-directed learning and how humans really learn most effectively. A good deal of scientific study validates the notion that the principles of self-direction are how we maximize our learning and performance. But while there are plenty of reasons for self-directed learning to go prime time and there has been plenty of success, true self-directed learning remains on the fringes. Ninja sneak attack time…I’ve been studying how to infuse proven principles of self-directed learning into mainstream, traditional education.

Why Can’t We Accept and Leverage Our Human Nature?

Dr. Gray posted an article nearly two years ago that describes “….four powerful drives that exist in all normal children:  curiosity, playfulness, sociability, and planfulness.  The foundations for these drives are encoded in our DNA, shaped by natural selection, over our evolutionary history, to serve the purpose of education.  Our standard schools quite deliberately suppress these drives, especially the first three of them, in the interest of promoting conformity and keeping children fixed to the school’s curriculum.”  

These four drives are critical to human development and to lifelong learning. WHY can they not be incorporated into the methods and materials of a traditional academic curriculum?

A related question: what is the relevance of these biological foundations for “big” kids? Are they important to us too, do they represent basic human nature regardless of age? What if leaders in the workplace were mindful of these? I’m seeing a direct correlation to elements of high engagement (see Engagement and Mojo—Peas and Carrots) which have been proven to boost morale, job satisfaction, productivity, overall performance, and even social-emotional well-being, physical health and longevity. You suppose there’s something to all this?

Read Dr. Gray’s piece. It’s short, and it’s not crammed full of scholarly mumbo-jumbo. Once again, Gray has done a great job of capturing the essence of what learning, and life, could and should be. Come back here and offer your thoughts: what are the barriers to mainstreaming? And what are the resolutions that will help us work around those barriers?

 Biological Foundations for Self-Directed Education

Here are four powerful, innate drives that lead children to educate themselves.

Posted Sep 28, 2016  Peter Gray


1 thought on “Biological Foundations of Learning-Gray

  1. Pingback: All-Community Development: Vision, Delusion or Simple Pothole Repairs? | One Pond-Ripples

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