Sunday, August 31, 2008

Learning Without Teachers

What will happen if you place a single computer workstation with free access to the World Wide Web in a wall so that 'unschooled' children can access it?

In the "Hole-in-the-Wall" project, Sugata Mitra discovered that kids in Delhi, India could and would teach themselves how to use such a tool. No instructions, no teachers, no supervision. The experiment has since been repeated many times and now Sugata Mitra's LIFT talk is available via TED...

In some ways, this self-teaching reminds me of Greg Mortenson stumbling upon students carrying on with their lessons absent of teachers in remote Pakistan. Greg's chronicle of his mission to build schools for these students is chronicled in "Three Cups of Tea".

This peer-teaching and self-learning isn't what you might expect to find when teachers leave their North American classrooms... I wonder why that is?


doug rogers said...

I noticed the self-satisfied suburbs in the Delhi question.

Why might this not work? Urban centres already have all they want. No hunger except entertainment.

As he points out where success is already high there will be little effect on learning.

loonyhiker said...

I think people are born with curiosity and the desire to learn new things. Even without instruction, people will want to find out how and why something is there or how it works. Teachers are just an added bonus to facilitate learning.

Rodd Lucier said...

I think you each hit on a key component.. the 'hunger to learn'. Preparing learning activities that are appetizing, and nutritious is no easy feat. It requires the deft hand of a chef-like teacher to ensure the ingredients are mixed in the proper proportions to meet the needs of the students.

Here's hoping your charges are not picky eaters!