September 15, 2008

On Education

When I think about my life I wonder at times where it is all leading. I am a student of sociology and also have classes on politics and law. I have a knack for learning languages though it is mostly to be able to communicate, not for the sake of learning. There is a feeling of responsibility for the world in me that will ultimately lead me into a position where I can excercise it for the advancement of my fellow beings on this planet.
Now this is all nice and it sounds like the tree-hugger in me. But what does it mean and how is all this self-definition useful if there is no clear mission to go with it?
Well, a mission is beginning to show on the horizon. When I was watching this video on, it became clear to me once again how powerful education, especially primary education, really is. What children learn during their early years has such an enormous impact on how they interact with the world that it seems to me one of the most powerful tools if you ever want to change the world. Many people know that and many also practice it unconsciously, though some do it with only their own interests at heart. Primary education should be universal as the UN development goals have stated. There must be a way for all children to bring their inner curiosity, openness and tolerance into society. I could live with this being my mission in the world!

I leave you with this talk by Sugata Mitra, an education researcher from India who describes his fascinating experiment. Life is ingenious, when its creativity is allowed to unfold itself.

In 1999, Sugata Mitra and his colleagues dug a hole in a wall bordering an urban slum in New Delhi, installed an Internet-connected PC, and left it there (with a hidden camera filming the area). What they saw was kids from the slum playing around with the computer and in the process learning how to use it and how to go online, and then teaching each other.

In the following years they replicated the experiment in other parts of India, urban and rural, with similar results, challenging some of the key assumptions of formal education. The "Hole in the Wall" project demonstrates that, even in the absence of any direct input from a teacher, an environment that stimulates curiosity can cause learning through self-instruction and peer-shared knowledge. Mitra, who's now a professor of educational technology at Newcastle University (UK), calls it "minimally invasive education."


Anonymous said...

sounds good!
es soll mal jemand gesagt haben: "wer die welt retten will, muss sich um die kinder kuemmern, nicht um die alten Saecke!" is was dran, finde ich und darf es sagen, weil ich zu den letzteren gehoere.
Go on, man!

Anonymous said...

..sounds good! but maybe the better sound the one from the new BMW X6 (..."Where great ideas live on"!)!

Take the red pill, Robert! ;-)