I was really inspired last year when I saw Sugata Mitra give a Ted talk on his vision for the future of education, so for those of you who missed it here it is again. I’ve added some photos so this new improved version looks much better than the original although the wonderful message remains no matter how you dress it up.
Time to take a break from my intense inner journeys and to go on a magical tour to the future, in this particular instance, the future of education. Like many other areas of knowledge in our society, medicine, the production of energy, education is well and truly behind what is known about the capacity of human beings. In fact Sugata Mitra says that schools as we know them are obsolete, they are no longer preparing children for the world that they will actually go out and meet.
He traces the origins of our current system, which came from the British Empire, and which aimed to create a workforce of identical drones who would be able to run the bureaucratic machine that they used to keep their empire together and running efficiently. It was also a world where people might have to be able to do their jobs, for example soldiers, under enormous threat, and so they received punishment and did examinations where they would come up with the answers under adverse conditions. But in that situation the brain shuts down the learning centres, by shifting the emphasis to encouragement, that is pleasure, much more learning can occur.
Sugata Mitra advocates children teaching each other and he has done numerous experiments that clearly show that this can produce amazing results, give the kids big questions, broadband, and a Granny figure to offer encouragement, and there seems to be no limit to what can be achieved! He postulates the challenging notion that knowing may also be obsolete, as we can often now find out things at the touch of a keypad, and find out whatever we need to know in a matter of minutes.
This is such exciting and inspiring information, no wonder the current empires represented by the big corporations such as the fossil fuel and pharmacological industries, are trying so hard to hang on to what they have. They understand that they are only just managing to keep a lid on human potential, and that sooner or later the lid is going to pop off and their stranglehold on our culture will be over. One could wish they would give in gracefully, but it doesn’t seem likely at the moment.
Perhaps one of the new generation of children who are learning at the School in the Cloud, will work out how to dismantle the whole sorry mess without creating a lot of misery and suffering for the population. When you have watched this talk by Sugata Mitra you will understand why I am so hopeful, the examples that he gives are literally mind-boggling, I cried, in a good way!
“Schools as we know them are obsolete” says Sugata Mitra, an educational researcher and the winner of the 2013 TED Prize.
His wish: Build a School in the Cloud, where children can explore and learn from one another.
This presentation turns our idea of education on its head. See his revolutionary pedagogical method in action here, where learning happens “by itself”: