Back-To-Back Academy Awards For Best Original Score In A Movie Beyond The Hole In The Wall: A Book That May Change Everything You Believe About Education

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Beyond The Hole In The Wall: A Book That May Change Everything You Believe About Education

This story begins at the turn of the millennium when the well-known Indian educator Sugata Mitra literally used a pickaxe and spade to make a hole in the wall separating his office from an area of ​​neighboring slums in New Delhi, and installed a network computer in the space thus created, facing the computer screen and keyboard towards the alley outside, and then covering the entire In a protective plastic material so that it can function in the rain or the sun.

Then he left it there for local children to discover and explore freely on their own, unsupervised. Using various technologies alongside simple observation from his office, Mitra compiled detailed chronicles of the children’s interaction with the computer and the Internet. Where did he get such an idea? I do not know yet. But it was a brilliant experiment.

What these kids learned from Mitra’s hole-in-the-wall experiment was that kids from one of the world’s poorest regions can, without guidance or supervision, quickly learn how a computer works—and much, much more. The children also collaborated freely with each other, easily exploring the world of high-tech online connectivity. This was the dawn of Mitra’s introduction to self-organized learning, and it would shape the next decade of his research.

Sugata Mitra has written an inspiring but short non-fiction book with Amazon’s Kindle Single program called Beyond the hole in the wall: Discover the power of self-organized learning With a foreword by Nicholas Negroponte, chair emeritus of the MIT Media Lab and founder of One Laptop Per Child.

This is an important update on Mitra’s groundbreaking work (which many will not realize provided the inspiration for the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire). What I took away from my one night reading of this work (it reads like wonderful writing Atlantic Monthly or Harper’s A passage from a few decades ago) was that self-directed learning, that is, learning that occurs without a teacher present, can make children smarter and more creative in environments that, at first glance, seem not to be conducive to any kind of learning. all. The fact is that humans often learn under very difficult conditions. We have to, otherwise we don’t survive.

Sugata Mitra is a physicist, a cognitive researcher, a talented teacher and certainly one of the most intelligent and original thinkers that the educational establishment has produced in the last half century. He now teaches at Newcastle University. At the time of the “Hole in the Wall” experiment, he headed NIIT, one of the five largest electronic training institutes in the world.

The appropriation and internalization of the personal computer and the Internet by thousands of illiterate children, all without any guidance or supervision from adults, has dealt a blow to long-held beliefs about what children can and cannot do for themselves, along with unexpected evidence of the high intelligence and ability of illiterate children to acquire skills. computer and other knowledge without the help of the teachers.

The experiment became a sensation. The President of the World Bank and other dignitaries personally went up to Delhi to see it. The media hype began to build up. The experiment was soon replicated in dozens of other urban public spaces and villages across India and in several other countries such as South Africa. All conveyed the same message: children have an amazing ability and drive to learn to use computers for learning, with or without the help of teachers.

This kind of learning has since been called by Mitra by name Minimally invasive education. The vast disparities that exist in India’s school system and the magnitude of the challenge of educating India’s millions of children take on a less threatening aspect in light of these new studies.

I highly recommend this long article (I don’t think it’s really a book) to anyone with the slightest interest in how humans learn. It was exciting to see how much cooperation, sharing, discussion, and indeed courage spontaneously arise in places where we least expect it. This can certainly be one of the most significant books on education that have appeared in the last two or three generations. It’s also an incredibly fun story to spend a night with.

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