Sugata Mitra: The child-driven education

This is the third recent post on the direction of education in schools.

In the first post I used the work of Sir Ken Robinson who gave us an outline of the history of public education and some of the challenges we now face. I also used the work of Chris Betcher, a teacher in Sydney who challenged us with Davinci sitting in our classrooms.

In the secnd post I used the work of Tony Wagner from the US who gave us 21st Century skills challenges which he says gives us a moral purpose to radically change what we do as teachers in schools.

In this post Sugata Mitra talks about the role of a teacher as a supporter [“grandmother like” is one of his expressions] as we set up – then let go of the task for the child to do the work – the learning – using technology. One of his quotes is why do we need to stuff knowledge into children’s heads when they can just Google it.

In a way I understand what he is trying to say but I think you need some knowledge in order to understand the general framework so that students can connect to the dots and solve some problems. The questions I suppose he poses is how is this knowledge acquisition going to occur and how do generate student interest in learning within an approved curriculum to follow.

How I feel about all this now as I’m in the middle of setting up age normed classes once again which is what Sir Ken argued sets up a wrong paradigm and asking teachers plan a curriculum around set expectations that might not always value Wagner’s survival skills or Sugata’s message about child driven education? 

Are there any entry points to this seeminly radical ways of seeing things a little differently? I want to have a series of conversations about the pedagaogy and practice we expect of  teachers and students in these new spaces – to simply replicate age normed classes and expectations seems a waste. But how to engage parents – what’s their fears as we stray from the “path” or for that matter teacher fear of being judged as a perhaps a poor teacher if we don’t do most of the work for them. Perhaps describing our desired states and fears about change asked together might prompt supported inventiveness around what we do.

Interested to hear other questions.

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