Sugata Mitra – children can learn surprisingly well without a teacher. TESS 17/09/2010

http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6058263

The research is reported here as starting off in a fairly experimental way – with Mitra pushing through a hole in his office wall, which bordered a New Delhi slum; inserting a PC into the hole and observing the remarkable speed at which the children learned how to operate it. The experiment was tested and repeated in different contexts and countries always with the same result – children with access to a computer will always teach themselves how to use it, regardless of intelligence and with no other correlation to any other factor. Little detail of the methods implemented in the research are given.

This is interesting in many respects:
• Self – organised groups demostrate effective mechanisms for learning
• It is supportive of a social – constructivist view of learning
• The role of the teacher needs to change to be more accepting of this more SC approach
• We need to use technology effectively in education to allow more learner autonomy as demonstrated by these children
• The developing world will lead the way in this approach due do teacher scarcity and poverty. The developed world needs to take notice.
• Does this suggest a 21st century approach to learning? If so, more needs to be done to support teachers in adapting to it and moving away from current practice which in general makes a fairly good job of educating children for the last century!

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About catrionao

I'm a PhD student at Stirling University, studying a school based practice of teacher professional learning. I also do online facilitation for various organisations such as SELMAS and the Strategic Leadership Development Programme.
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4 Responses to Sugata Mitra – children can learn surprisingly well without a teacher. TESS 17/09/2010

  1. Yes, it was astonishing! The key point seemed to be that the children learned TOGETHER. As they explored they learned from each other, gradually building their combined knowledge as a group, from which individuals learned. It was also remarkable that though only one at a time could physically access the computer, all were engaged and offering advice, and could see the effects of action taken by the ‘operator’. I doubt if the same success – or enthusiasm for learning – would have been achieved if each child had been issued with a computer and had been working alone. Food for thought here about how we organise access to technology?

  2. p.s. If anyone missed the video, of Sugata Mirea, here it is:

  3. catrionao says:

    great point Hilary – I’ve just spent the evening in our ICT centre – very non interactive set up with one terminal for each user, not atypical either. Rethinking on lots of levels I think!

  4. Pingback: The future of teacher education « Cat's eyes

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