Knowing is obsolete.
Teachers may no longer be needed.
Could it be that you don’t need to go to school at all?
If you’ve watched Sugata Mitra’s TED talks, you’ll have heard him deliver these and other similarly provocative statements that challenge the notion of school as most people know it. Wherever his work is mentioned, responses range from highly positive to even more highly critical to quite rude. For every teacher excited by his ideas, there are several who find them insubstantial, objectionable or downright threatening. For me, this is part of the charm!
My favourite line from his ‘School in the Cloud’ TED talk is this:
“It’s not about making learning happen, it’s about letting it happen”… THIS is the key.
Whether or not you choose to believe that schools will change (or, gasp, become obsolete); whether you believe that teachers are instructors, facilitators, guides or not required at all…
Are you ready to acknowledge that children are able to learn by themselves?
Have you taken steps to release control and encourage your students to take ownership of their learning?
Are you ‘letting learning happen’?
I’ve followed Sugata’s work since the early days and his ‘hole-in-the-wall’ experiments influenced the thinking of thousands of teachers, by highlighting the possibilities of student driven learning. In the video below, he talks about the current status of the School in the Cloud project, his wish that won the 2013 million dollar TED prize.
I’ve met Sugata in person and enjoyed his tongue in cheek sense of humour and the way he cheerfully pokes fun, so I find his closing words amusing…
“What would it be like if we had the kind of world where if you asked a child ‘Do you go to school?’ he says ‘I don’t know’?…well, think about that”.
When I once showed my elderly mother photos of learning in the school at which I work, it didn’t look at all like school to her. I sincerely hope that when my great-grandchildren go to school (if indeed school still exists), it won’t look anything like school today.
For now, I’m excited to be working with teachers and learners in these changing times, exploring inquiry learning, provoking thinking, pushing boundaries, challenging the notion of school as it used to be and ‘letting learning happen‘.
And I’m even more excited to be part of the learning in Sugata’s ‘School in the Cloud’.
I’ve been a member of the ‘granny cloud’ for a number of years, interacting with children in a range of settings in India and, along with the other ‘grannies’ (including people of both genders and all ages!) supporting Suneeta (Research Director of the School in the Cloud) who’s been instrumental in keeping this project alive, breathing life into it during even the most challenging times.
Yesterday marked the opening of the first ‘School in the Cloud’ in India, at a government girls’ school in Delhi, a stone’s throw from the site of the first hole-in-the-wall, and I was there (well, only on the screen), not just observing, but playing an active role.
As always in these sessions, the children started off a little reticent, quiet, filled with awe… but soon they were chatting and smiling and even singing for me.
It didn’t matter that there were other people in the room – Suneeta, the media, visitors, Sugata and his crew – I was unaware of them as I engaged with the kids.
It didn’t matter that screen-sharing wasn’t working properly. The cloud grannies are used to abandoning plans and improvising.
It didn’t matter that the girls are unfamiliar with Skype and didn’t know where to type their names, when I didn’t quite understand their accents. They will figure it out next time.
It’s been a while since I last interacted with kids in the SOLES and I am really happy to be back. It’s exciting to be part of Sugata’s vision of learning and I’m ready to ‘let learning happen‘…