Letting Kids Learn: Hole-in-the-Wall Experiment

Encouragement seems to be the key. If you look at Kallikuppam [India], if you look at all of the experiments that I did, it was simply saying, “Wow,” saluting learning.” ~ Sugata Mitra

No one needs to convince me that children can learn in the virtual environment. Our children have been thriving in it! We are fortunate to be able to provide an education-rich environment for our own children, outside the brick-and-mortar environment but still entrenched in public education. World wide, however, there are millions of children who don’t get that chance due to socioeconomic status.

The Victorian education model — the way of the current public school system in America — has worked for centuries for good reason. As similarly trained ‘widgets’, children with a standard education in ABC’s and 123’s can attend universities and find meaningful work anywhere in the country, in fact, anywhere in the world.

But today is very different than 300 years ago, very different indeed.

‘The Empire’ now gone with a new globally connected, 24/7 computer-driven market in its place, perhaps it’s time to rethink a future for learning that maximizes the potential of our most precious resource — our children.

Self-Organized Learning Environment = SOLE

Sugata Mitra put a computer — built in another country, written in a different language no less — into a wall in an Indian slum and let children figure out on their own how to use it. What resulted is nothing short of amazing. Because of his research, Mitra was the recipient of the 2013 TED Prize for his wish, Building a School in the Cloud.

“The teacher only raises the question and then stands back and admires the answer… Let [the student] alone. He’ll figure it out.” ~ Sugata Mitra

The question is not whether teachers are needed for children to learn, but rather Is knowledge obsolete? Answers to just about everything can now be found instantaneously on the Internet with a simple search. Only the right question need be asked and the children, with their natural curiosity for learning and a wonder for life’s inner workings, are quite able to find the answer.

Every child is intelligent. Every child can learn. All he needs is the opportunity to explore with encouragement to do what he already does best.

The following is a 20-minute TED Talk. I urge you to watch it.

Click here for the interactive transcript.

What do you think is the future of learning?

6 thoughts on “Letting Kids Learn: Hole-in-the-Wall Experiment

  1. Well said, dear friend! Your post reminds me of this quote I once heard – “don’t teach kids what to think, teach them how to think”.

    You ask a very valid question as to whether knowledge is obsolete. I can’t answer that and therein lies the truth of what you hint at!

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    1. I use that quote often, Christy. With every new thing I put in my kids” minds, I like to say, “Don’t take MY word for it. Question everything!” We are, after all, training the earth stewards of tomorrow.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your blog has made me as a reader feel like I’ve been part of your virtual classrom with your children (at least the outdoors part)! I always said after graduating from college that I would go back to school one day. Little did I know then – in the 80s and before the internet – that it would be this way!

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    1. Aw, Julie, such a sweet comment! I’m glad to have had you here since practically the beginning. And you’re watching as virtual learning with us unfolds before your eyes! I never would have believed it would work (not just for them, but for ME) until I did it. And when I discovered what Sugata Mitra had been doing, it was like aHA! Really explains it:

      Broadband + Collaboration + Encouragement = Level Playing Field for ALL Children

      All I’m providing is the broadband and lots of encouragement. The virtual public school provides the collaboration. Kids feel better about themselves, can work at a pace that is comfortable for their unique styles, and (in my house, anyway) high doses of being IN nature (part of it, that is, not dominion over it) keeps them engaged and healthy — body, mind, and spirit. It’s probably how I (and maybe even you) will go back to school as well. Brick and mortar colleges may become buildings for other uses.

      You can tell it’s hard for me not to shout it from the rooftops!! If you haven’t watched the TED Talk, it will warm your heart. Amazing stuff.

      Thank so much for being a regular contributor to this blog, Julie. It means a lot to me. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Jet. Vision without astigmatism is a whole new reality, never mind the cloudy curtain in front. As for education, something needs to give, especially in Texas, the home of No Child Left Behind, where huge numbers of kids are still dropping out.

      Liked by 1 person

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