Sugata Mitra's TED talk about child-driven education is a video worth taking the time to watch. In his talk he highlights some of the experiments that he has conducted over the past ten years. His research analyzes how students are able to learn technology on their own with very little guidance from adults. When I say little guidance, I mean zero guidance for the most part. Some of you may be familiar with his "hole in the wall" experiments which placed computers in brick walls in public places in India. The students in these Minimally Invasive Education experiments produced amazing results on their own. I have paraphrased a couple of quotes from the video that reinforce his message.
- Children will learn to do what they want to learn to do.
- A teacher that can be replaced by a machine should be.
- If children have interest, then education happens.
So what can we learn from an experiment in a country half way around the world that is very different than our own?
- Students learn amazing things if we can peak their curiosity! (inquiry based learning)
- Frequently we "teach" too much. We let students off the hook by lecturing and giving them too much guidance. (Check out this video of Dan Meyer's TED talk about math)
- Teachers need to realize their role needs to change (No, I'm not calling for eliminating teachers!).
- Students are great teachers for one another.
- Students respond well to learning "challenges".
Educators in technology rich environments must embrace these changes in our paradigm of what schools are. Making the shift to these five examples from Mitra's work would be a change for most schools, and I challenge you to make that transformation!