“It’s not about making learning happen, it’s about letting it happen”… This is the crux of Sugata Mitra’s message, whether he is talking about minimally invasive education, self organised learning environments or the School in the Cloud.
It’s very different from traditional approaches to education, but not so far removed from the student centred, inquiry driven learning that takes place at my school.
My colleague Jocelyn, with the task of teaching her spelling group Latin and Greek derivations, decides to let go even more than usual and use the SOLE approach.
She begins with Sugata’s ‘Child Driven Education’ TED talk as an introduction to provoke their thinking. All she does is show the video and ask her eleven/twelve-year-old learners to make observations and connections…
- You don’t need a teacher to teach you If you want to learn.
- It’s like a process – we learn from each other just like the kids in India at the hole in the wall.
- If we do our own exploration, we will learn more skills.
- If we find out and understand for ourselves where spelling comes from, we are more likely to learn it and remember.
- We can choose what we want to learn and we learn more when we are passionate about it.
- When you set your mind to something you can do it.
- Sometimes we just need someone to look over and tell us we are good.
- You need curiosity to learn.
- Kids learn by themselves. If they have an interest they will learn.
- Learn how kids want to learn and they will learn.
In the next lesson, Joc introduces the ‘big question’ – How have other languages influenced English words? She explains that in self organised learning environments, learners are free to choose their own groups and to move freely between groups. They will need to present their learning to others in an engaging way at the end.
And then… she lets the learning happen!
Marty forms a group of six and suggests they go through each step of the information process -define, locate, select, organise, present. By the end of the lesson, they have broken the big questions down into three inquiry questions and begun to explore. They will consider many ways to present but only choose later, so that they will be able to see the mode of presentation that suits best.
Raf’s group realises they need some background knowledge as they only know a little about Greek and Latin roots. They immediately start researching and are very excited to find out that the English language has developed over time from so many different sources. They are intrigued to discover the extent to which wars have influenced the language.
Each of the groups decides how they want to approach the learning and every group is different.
Every one of our learning principles underpins this inquiry -
- We learn in different ways, depending on abilities, preferences and interests.
- Learning takes place through inquiry: questioning, exploring, experimenting and problem solving.
- Learning occurs by acquiring skills and knowledge, constructing meaning and transfer to other contexts.
- Learning is active and social and best takes place through collaboration and interaction.
- Learning needs to be challenging, meaningful, purposeful and engaging.
- Learning includes meta-cognition and reflection, and requires learners to take ownership of their learning.
The learners are highly engaged and motivated. The teacher sits back and observes the learning unfold…