Sunday, December 13, 2015

Emotions, friends and play are all crucial parts of our journey towards adulthood - psychologist Paul Howard-Jones

Emotions, friends and play are all crucial 
parts of our journey towards adulthood, 

says psychologist Paul Howard-Jones 

When filming the Channel 4 series 
The Secret Life of 4, 5 and 6 year olds 
I'd never imagined what following a young child through their day would feel like. 
It was wonderful to have the chance to listen to each child and follow the stories of their day. 
I thought I'd get absorbed by the science, 
but I kept getting pulled into the drama and 
being surprised by what we were observing. 
In the Science Room we were supposed to be witnessing events objectively, 
but things often got a bit emotional. 

Here are some things we witnessed: 
Listening to every conversation and watching kids at eye level helps you share their highs and lows - 
and all the drama and emotions flow very rapidly. 
You really feel the outrage, dejection, and often confusion, when they get isolated or rejected, 
and their joy when they turn things around. 
The range of emotions in a single day is staggering. 

I was surprised to see the degree of challenge children seek in their play - 
getting more and more friends involved with their fantasy and borrowing ideas from the adult world. 
They're often working at their limits and they love it. 
This combination of learning and fun is such a wonderful thing to observe - 
if s left me feeling we have to get the fun back into learning for older children, too, 
which is where my research is heading now. 
Having taken part in this documentary series, I am now leading Sci-napse, 
a project which aims to deliver secondary school science education through games because I feel, 
more than ever, that learning really can be fun.

Paul Howard-Jones is a psychologist specialising in education and neuroscience. 
The Secret Life of Children at Christmas 
will be on Channel 4 at 8pm on 17 December 2015