“Schools as we know them are obsolete”, so says Professor Sugata Mitra.
Prof. Mitra has as a clear view of the education system, he says the education system is not ‘broken’ it’s ‘outdated’.
He continues, that schools are part of an education system designed by the Victorians to be a production line for recruits for The British Empire’s bureaucratic system.
The problem is that the Empire does not exist any more but we are still producing people for that system.
You will find a link below to his fascinating and inspiring Ted talk. Prof. Sugata Mitra seems to have proved that students can learn by themselves if they have access to knowledge.
He started with an experiment in India in 1999, in which he put a computer in a hole in the wall of his office, bordering a slum, to find out if poor children could learn without any help.
He issued no instructions, but they learned anyway. You will see videos of how they did it.
His next experiment was in Kallikuppum in Tamil Nadu, southern India. He wanted to find out if non-English speaking children in Tamil Nadu could learn the biotechnology of DNA replication in English from a street-side computer without a teacher.
At the same time had set up a ‘control’ school in Delhi with a trained biotechnology teacher. Within a few months the children in Kallikuppum, with minimal help from an unqualified adult had caught up!
They had learned advanced biochemistry in a language they did not understand from a computer screen under a tree without a teacher!
This seems to me extraordinary and it poses many important questions about how we teach, how students learn and what the future of education will be.
I have had the conversation about education reform, many times, live and on social media, and I have always backed off when people say, things like, you will always need teachers and schools.
Well, do we?
You know what, maybe I will not back off next time? Do we need the same type of education system as we have always had? I still believe you need someone to ask the questions, and teach the social mores we still need, but I am increasingly inclined to agree with Prof. Mitra. Maybe, knowing is obsolete, maybe we can find out what we need to know when we need to know it on demand.
Sugata Mitra says if you allow learning to happen it self-organises and learning emerges.
He has already set it up an organisation called ‘school in the cloud’ that offers support to set up SOLEs, or, self-organized learning networks. If you have not seen this viedo, you must to look at it as soon as possible.