Freitag, 7. Februar 2014

Sugata Mitra and the wonders of learning

I know, that my blog might have been given reason to lose faith in humanity. I often find myself ashamed about my species, when I think about the way we treat each other and the world we live with. But there are reasons to strongly believe in humanity, even if today we seem to have lost our collective minds (sorry to say so).

For me, our amazing ability to learn and adapt is what fills me with hope when thinking about our future. Learning, for us humans, is more than an ability. We actually need to learn. When young, we need to learn the same way we need water, air or food.

In our western societies we tend to confuse learning with "being teached", but as it turns out, the most efficient way for learning is to teach yourself and just being assisted in doing so. This is old knowledge. Why do we keep trying to teach and fail to let children teach themselfs? Why, for many children are schools a terrifying experince?

Many social scientists have come up with the suggestion that schools are not about learning or teaching, but about controlling the populace and reproducing an ideology. Important social theorists like Antonio Gramsci, Pierre Bourdieu, Noam Chomsky or Michel Foucault, to name but a few, have formulated the suggestion, that schools are institutions that reproduce social stratification.

So since the 1960s, when crtiticism of schools became widespread, there have been Projects like the Sudbury Valley School, that question the way that we seem to believe schools have to function. When I came across this school I was astonished and you will probably be too, if you follow the link.

Basically the Sudbury Valley School gives the children the power about when, what, why and most importantly "if" they learn. The success of the Sudbury School speaks for itself. But critics might say, that sudbury is just another eltitist institution. Sudbury is a private school. Parents must have the money to send their offspring there. So maybe the success of sudbury might only be achieved by filtering a certain group of children, that are encouraged to learn by their (educated, middle class) parents anyway?

Sugata Mitra, an indian teacher, shows that all our believes about school and teaching are misconceptions. He started a project called "hole in the wall" in a very poor neighborhood in india. Basically he put up a computer (that could not be stolen) for everybody to use. The results were mindblowing.

But I dont want to tell his amazing and wonderful story but let him speak himself. Please do yourself a favour and watch, you will be amazed, I promise:

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