Friday, February 27, 2015

Day 26: The future of learning #28daysofwriting

Sugata Mitra - Building a School in the Cloud

In this video Sugata talks about what he thinks the future of learning is, and he shares his experiment in New Delhi with the computer in the wall.  What he finds is fascinating.

To begin with he talks about where the current system comes from, outlining how it came from Britain where 300 years ago, Britain invented a global computer made up of people.   This global computer was an administrative bureaucratic machine - and in order to run that machine they needed a bigger machine (hence the birth of the school) to create this.  Furthermore it needed to produce identical people, all within this machine.  And here we are, still doing it.

300 years ago, you needed :

  • good handwriting 
  • Ability to read
  • Able to do maths in your head 

But what is needed now?

Schools as we know them are obsolete - not broken - just obsolete, and we don't need them because they are outdated.

But what about learning in the future?

Sugata poses the question, do we actually need to go to school, when the information is actually out there already.  He asks, are we heading into a future that we know is already obsolete?

One of the keys to learning in the future is Encouragement - simply saying 'wow, look at what you are doing', where children can explore, currently, our system is built on 'punishments and examinations', and to a child's brain, these are seen as 'threats'.   Learning should be the product of self organisation - not the teacher making it happen, but rather letting it happen.  A place where the teacher steps back and lets learning happen, watching in awe and providing encouragement.

There are three things we need to make this a reality, broadband, encouragement and collaboration.

Imagine a curriculum of big questions, because this is where our education system needs to head.

He finishes with his wish for the future.  He asks that we design the future of learning, not to be spare parts to a global computer but to design it to tap into a students wonder and ability to collaborate and that if we helped him build this school, it would be the school in the cloud.  Finally, he sets you a challenge and that challenge is for all 5 continents to create self organised environments, in our homes, schools, clubs and for us all to send him the data, where he will put it together and create the school in the cloud.

It has left me thinking, and wondering.

What more can I do as the leader of a machine (school that is), which is, in this context, obsolete (which we all are)?
What more can we all do?
Are we obsolete but just too blind to see it?  (are we being chooks with our heads in the sand?)
What does it mean for policy makers and politicians?
If collaboration is a critical skill, how do we model that everyday? 

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