Playing to Learn

Haim Watzman

Peter Gray came to my youngest daughter’s school last night to talk about why I should just relax and let my daughter play her way through her adolescence.

About fifteen months ago, Misgav, now 15, asked to transfer to the Sudbury School in Jerusalem. The school, located a short walk from our home, operates on the model of the Sudbury Valley School in Massachusetts. That means, in short, that the kids run the school. There are no course requirements, the kids only study if and what they want to. Staff exists to facilitate what the kids want, not determine what they should learn. Play is considered no less, perhaps more valuable, than formal classes. The school enrolls children from the ages of 4 through 18 and any activity or lesson is likely to include children of a wide variety of ages.

Gray became acquainted with Sudbury when, more than 30 years ago, he decided to send his son Scott there. Scott is now a staff member at the original Sudbury school and also spoke to us last night. A psychologist at Boston College, Peter conducted research about the school and became one of its major advocates, as can be seen on his blog.

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