Let the Children Play

Pasi Sahlberg, William Doyle

Let the Children Play

Pasi Sahlberg, William Doyle






15 Aug 2019




$50.95 AUD

$58.99 NZD

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Play is how children explore, discover, fail, succeed, socialize, and flourish. It is a fundamental element of the human condition. It's the key to giving schoolchildren skills they need to succeed--skills like creativity, innovation, teamwork, focus, resilience, expressiveness, empathy, concentration, and executive function. Expert organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Centers for Disease Control agree that play and physical activity are critical foundations of childhood, academics, and future skills--yet politicians are destroying play in childhood education and replacing it with standardization, stress, and forcible physical restraint, which are damaging to learning and corrosive to society.

But this is not the case for hundreds of thousands of lucky children who are enjoying the power of play in schools in China, Texas, Oklahoma, Long Island, Scotland, and in the entire nation of Finland. In Let the Children Play, Pasi Sahlberg, Finnish educator and scholar, and Fulbright Scholar William Doyle make the case for helping schools and children thrive by unleashing the power of play and giving more physical and intellectual play to all schoolchildren.

In the course of writing this book, Sahlberg and Doyle traveled worldwide, reviewed over 700 research studies, and conducted interviews with over 50 of the world's leading authorities on education. Most intriguingly, Let the Children Play provides a glimpse into the play-based experiments ongoing now all over the world, from rural China, Singapore, and Scotland to North Texas and Oklahoma, as well as the promising results of these bold new approaches. Readers will find the book to be both a call for change and a guide for making that change happen in their own communities.


Foreword by Sir Ken Robinson Chapter 1: The Coming Golden Age of Childhood Chapter 2: A Tale of Two Fathers Chapter 3: The Learning Power of Play Chapter 4: The GERM that Kills Play Chapter 5: An American Tragedy: The Death of Recess Chapter 6: The Global War on Play Chapter 7: The Great Play Experiments Chapter 8: Play in the Schools of Tomorrow Chapter 9: The Global Play Summit Appendices 1. The Declaration of Play - Call to Halt the War on Childhood 2. The Play Stages of a Child's School Life 3. 7 Steps to Help Children and Schools Thrive 4. Play Recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics Resources Source Notes Index


Pasi Sahlberg , Finland

William Doyle , USA

Pasi Sahlberg is Professor of Education Policy at Gonski Institute for Education, University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. He is a Finnish educator who has studied education systems around the world. His work on learning through play has brought him the 2013 Grawemeyer Award, the 2014 Robert Owen Award, and the 2016 Lego Prize. His interests include teaching and learning in school, teacher education, and equity and quality of education. Former Senior Specialist at World Bank, Director General of the Ministry of Education in Finland, and Visiting Professor at Harvard University, he now lives with his family in Sydney. William Doyle is a New York Times bestselling author and TV producer for networks including HBO, The History Channel, and PBS. Since 2015 he has served as Fulbright Scholar, Scholar in Residence and Lecturer on Media and Education at University of Eastern Finland, a Rockefeller Foundation Resident Fellow, and advisor to the Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland.


"The definitive account of how educational policy-makers, presumably well-intentioned, have gone completely astray, in the United States and elsewhere, along with a vivid and convincing account of how to restore play to its proper place in the lives of children." -- Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education

"Inspirational, well written, and superbly documented, this book is a gift to the next generation. Adding play back into children's hurried and stressed lives might just be the elixir that will help them thrive in a workforce of thinkers, innovators, and collaborators. Thank you Doyle and Sahlberg for giving us a road map so that we can put our educational systems back on course." -- Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Lefkowitz Faculty Fellow in Psychology at Temple University

"Sahlberg and Doyle whack us in the head with the reality that 21st Century skills require old-fashioned learning as children. Play is the analog of life - observing the world, identifying challenges, taking risks, failing, problem-solving again and again, struggling to find consensus with others, absorbing defeats with grace and celebrating victories with exuberance. What builds successful adults is the ability to rise undaunted to opportunities, build relationships, feed curiosity and seize the joy that is at the heart of learning and of living!" -- Michael Rich, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and author of Ask the Mediatrician

"Let the Children Play should be in the hands of every single teacher, parent and policy maker who touch the lives of the children they serve. Sahlberg and Doyle clearly articulate and demand that we wake up and finally acknowledge that children have the fundamental right to play in school. This is a compelling vision of the power of play and what we can do to ensure it comes off the 'endangered species' list and back into every school around the world." -- Michael J. Hynes, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools for the Patchogue-Medford School District in New York

"Let the Children Play is a passionate, eloquent and substantiated argument for a radical change of priorities in how many parents, educators and policymakers provide for the education, health and well being of children." -- from the Foreword by Sir Ken Robinson

"We have undervalued the role of play in school to our own detriment as educators, and that of our students. In a culture where standardized testing has crowded out inquisitiveness and play, our students don't get an opportunity to tinker and experiment without high stakes judgments. Without play, teachers don't get to learn from watching their students be unbound by their inner creative selves. When children play, we observe the possibility of their imagination, and retool our structured classroom learning to create activities that model the authentic play and joy of students. It's a missed opportunity to learn from a feedback loop on what comes naturally to children. Play can liberate the power of inquiry in classrooms, that ironically can produce better test scores. Kudos for being so bold with this book!" -- Eric Contreras, Principal, Stuyvesant High School, New York City

"Play develops our imagination and capacity to collaborate and is what makes us human. Sahlberg and Doyle have written a brilliant and compelling manifesto for bringing play back into the lives of children. Let the revolution begin!" -- Tony Wagner, best-selling author of The Global Achievement Gap and Creating Innovators.

"Insightful... An excellent offering for parent activists, education students, and school administrators."--Library Journal

"The book convincingly shows the reader that all children deserve to grow physically, emotionally, academically and socially--the benefits of real play nurture the soul as well as the development of the whole child. What's more important than that?" --School Administrator Magazine

"The book makes a case not only for the value of free play but the necessity of it: It is where children in fact develop the social and emotional abilities that they need... A clarion call back to the world of childhood joy and exploration."