Monday, 30 April 2012

A cloud of grannies

Quoting Arthur C. Clarke, "If children are interested then education will happen",  Professor Sugata Mitra has repeatedly shown that this happens.  He is Professor of Educational Technology at Newcastle University, and has demonstrated that children will learn with minimal help using computers.

Have you seen "Slumdog Millionaire" or read the book?  That was inspired by Sugata Mitra's first experiment in this direction, when he installed Hole in the Wall computers in Delhi.  There, without any instruction, children learned to use computers.  You could call this minimally invasive education.

To take this a stage further, mediators can guide the children using the grandmother method.  What is the grandmother method?   Standing behind them and admiring  them all the time, little more than that.  So now they have 200 volunteers admiring students around the world (India, Africa, Columbia) using Skype, a webcam, and a microphone.

There are many places where for various reasons teachers don't want to go and they aren't all in developing countries.  They are often the places where teachers are needed most.  It could be that minimally invasive education could be part of the answer.

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
~William Butler Yeats
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