Pasi Sahlberg — What We Learn When We Let Kids Play
Play • 55 min

Pasi Sahlberg puts forth the case as to why play is an essential part of every child’s life. We discover the benefits of children and young people when they follow their own ideas and interests, in their own way, and for their own reasons. What's the most convincing evidence in favour of play? Also, a tribute to Sir Ken Robinson.

Pasi Sahlberg is a Finnish educator and a global leader in education reform. As a policy advisor in Finland, he has studied education systems and advised education leaders around the world. Pasi was  awarded the Lego Prize in 2016 for his dedication to improve the lives of children around the world. As an author, his book “Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland”  won the 2013 Grawemeyer Award.   In 2019, he and William Doyle co-authored Let the Children Play: Why More Play Will Save Our Schools and Help Children Thrive.

He is currently a Professor of Education Policy and Deputy Director of the Gonski Institute at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

Episode Structure

  • 0:33 - At a playground in Finland, children play 
  • 1:50 - Observation: what happens when you just let kids play 
  • 4:41 - Ezra's introduction:  can we rethink how children learn 
  • 6:11 - The challenges of defining 'play' 
  • 8:57 - Structured learning vs. unstructured free play 
  • 12:30 - The importance of conversations between parents, children and educators 
  • 16:47 - How do we develop the pedagogy of play 
  • 22:15 - Understanding more about children's resilience 
  • 28:00 - Developing executive functions in early years 
  • 30:04 - Where is the most convincing evidence in favour of play? 
  • 36:35 - Realigning the understanding of  'play' 
  • 41:04 - Great ideas are being blocked due to  lack of conversations 
  • 45:13 - Outro and credits
  • 46:54 - Postscript: tribute to Sir Ken Robinson 


Article by the the American Academy of Pediatrics: The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds.

The Power of Play - 2018 Clinical Report

Book by Pasi Sahlberg and William Doyle: Let the Children Play: Why More Play Will Save Our Schools and Help Children Thrive.

Research by the LEGO Foundation on why learning through play is important.

Do Schools Kill Creativity by Sir Ken Robinson

Book Recommendations 

  1. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
  2. Moving: A Memoir of Education and Social Mobility by Andy Hargreaves


Contact :

Pasi Sahlberg: Twitter, Website
Gonski Institue of Education: Website

See for privacy information.

More episodes
Clear search
Close search
Google apps
Main menu