Sugata Mitra: Outdoctrination (Hole in the Wall) [en]

As always, these are just my notes and I may have misunderstood stuff. And as always too, check out Bruno’s writeup.

Build an argument for family eduction. 4 ideas.

Sugata Mitra

Remoteness of quality of education

  • as you go further from the centre, you can… ?
  • socially/economically remote from the rest of the society

Guess: schools in remote areas don’t have good enough teachers, and if they do, they can’t retain them.

Test taken by students, plotted against remoteness from Delhi. More remote = worse, but did not correlate with infrastructure (?).

Pilots for educational technology are usually the best schools => usually perceived as over-hyped and under-performant. ET should reach underpriviledged schools first, and not the other way around. Improvements at the bottom of the scale are proportionally higher at the bottom of the scale.

So… alternative primary education where there are no schools, not good enough, no teachers, teachers not good enough (“can be replaced by a machine”!!)

Children and self-organisation

The Hole in the Wall experiment. 1999-2004 (HIWEL project)

The Kalkaji Experiment. Hole in the wall of the office and pretty powerful computer with touchpad and internet connection, altavista etc in it. Within eight hours, one of the kids was teaching a younger one how to browse.

Second: Shivpuri. Children in groups can self-instruct themselves to use a computer and the internet.

Madantusi experiment, 2000-2001 (village near Lucknow). No internet, just CDs. 3 months later: “we need a faster processer and better mouse.” They were using 200 english words they had “learnt” from the computer.

=> language is not a barrier, it could even teach them some of the language.

Many other experiments in other places. steph-note: lots of footage shown

6-13-year-olds can self-instruct, irrespective of background, in groups

300 children become computer literate in 3 months (windows, browsing, chatting, e-mail, painting, games, educational material, music downloads, playing video), with one computer. Usually, one at the computer, 2-3 around advising, often wrongly… but they learn.

Letting it happen. Hole in the Wall site.

Children and Values

Example of confusion: sometimes it is necessary to tell lies: 50% yes, 50% no.

Natural self-organising systems: galaxies, molecules, cells, etc. traffic jams, stock markets, society…

  • remoteness affects the quality of education
  • educational technology should be introduced into remote areas first
  • values are acquired, doctrine and dogma are imposed
  • learning is a self-organising system

A digital, automatic, fault-tolerant, minimally invasive, connected, and self-organised educational technology. To address remoteness, values, and violence.

4 thoughts on “Sugata Mitra: Outdoctrination (Hole in the Wall) [en]

  1. Stephanie, I find your enthusiasm almost infectious, but I have just read an article in The Nation highlighting the powerful lobby composed of corporations and venture capitalists keen to make a fast buck from online courses – a lobby pressurising politicians to make online courses obligatory in public schools and arguing that more schools should be closed down in favour of online courses run by the likes of K12 Inc. Apparently the majority of studies done to date suggest that people doing online courses in the US tend to do worse than students studying in those terribly boring old-fashioned schools. Isn’t there a danger here that in our enthusiasm for a more child-centred education we unwittingly end up lending our support to a movement driven more by people who don’t actually give a damn about either children or education or the future of our culture?

  2. Got a link to said article? I have the feeling you’re polarizing the debate a little. “Do worse” — what does that mean? “The majority of studies” — sources? Of course there are risks of going overboard (see “Generation Me” for the dangers of the “self-esteem” centered tendency in education these last decades). But current education also needs to be reformed, and people who try and think things from the ground up contribute to that. Should school be the only place of education? You amalgamate online courses and self-learning — not the same thing.

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