Reverse engineering education to move towards creative growth and success!


Education researcher Sugata Mitra won 2013's million-dollar Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) Prize with his 'Hole in the Wall' experiment.  He showed how slum children learn to work a computer. He discussed this with Pratigyan Das and explained the dynamics of this venture, the radical potential it offers  and how our educational system still persists in trying to produce clerks for an empire long gone. The gist of his answers  is given below.
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Image Source : Frontline.com



What is the 'Hole in the Wall' experiment ?
I wished to prove that kids can be taught computers very easily without any formal training.So, this this shows that the acquisition of basic computing skills by any set of children. We can see this is done through incidental learning. All that is needed is that they are given access to a suitable computing facility with entertaining and motivating content and some minimal human guidance.

Since 1982, I had been thinking about this and in 1999, my team members and I carved a hole in the wall that separated the NIIT premises from the adjoining slum in Kalkaji, Delhi. Thus, a freely accessible computer was put up for use. This was a hit as the children learnt to use the computer on their own.

How did you think of this idea?
Observation - I saw this in affluent families first and thought we could explore it with others too.

So, don't we need teachers anymore?
We do need teachers for a pattern of teaching. Teachers need to guide students on some questions that the students can research and learn from by themselves without any help.

What about their role in fostering links between children and ensuring discipline?
This may have been relevant earlier not anymore for it makes learning boring.

Can this work in India where there's no access to computers  or even electricity  for many?
Incidentallt, this was discovered in India! There is a broadband and mobiles in almost all places in India. Like cable TV, this will solve its own problems.For, entertainment can be a more powerful driver than poverty.

Doesn's everyone need to know English?
They do need to know basic English. This do no learn by picking up a smattering in months if they`re allowed to work in unsupervised groups and we stay out of their way.

What do you think of the  educational system as it is now?
This is s=still in the 19 th century for the British empire. They are meant to produce clerks. We definitely need to reinvent this.

What are the opportunities your study offers India?
This could play an important role towards levelling the playing field between all.  All continents are paying attention. Everybody wants self-organised learning  as they can see a generation doing it anyway and all the time with their mobile phones.

Conclusion

We can definitely learn to reinvent ourselves and learn more and more for the experiment above shows us that we all are born learners.

Ref : Times of India