What happens when a single person decides to swim against the tide, refuses to be tied down by conventional methods or to go along with the herd, just because ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it’.
Well, here’s a superb story from Wired Magazine about a teacher in Mexico who was so inspired by the work of Sugata Mitra (Delhi hole in the wall computers experiments and TED fame), Juarez Correa;
What really struck me when reading this story was the way in which this young man didn’t decide to be held back by the conditions he was teaching in, his lack of training or the low starting base of his students. He started from where he was and believed in the potential of his students – and the results speak for themselves.
The reality is that most tests and exams are really not difficult. What makes them appear so is that the mind-numbing learning methods mean that vast numbers of students lose all the enthusiasm to learn what’s needed and also that because they lack depth of understanding it becomes like asking people to learn meaningless, endless strings of nonsense symbols and gibberish. Without context, without motivation and curiosity all learning is hard. With these things it’s so much easier.
If students are asked to discuss their feelings about the emotions of Shakespeare characters, their motives, how they would react in similar circumstances, they can only do so if they have the facts and the storyline under their belt. Of course, if they are later asked questions about the facts, they will come easily and readily to them.
What remains scary is how all this is considered radical and new. It’s also scary and more than a little damning that millions of teachers blessed with far more training, better classrooms, students who are better fed, over-tutored and having far less life challenges continue to perpetuate the same old 200 year ancient nonsense because change looks like too much hard work.
What Sugata Mitra is doing is great, what Juarez Correa is doing is great, but all educators damn themselves until this trickle becomes a giant wave – a million Juarez Correas changing the lives of our children, willing to put aside their egos and belief in themselves as spouting torrents of knowledge.
Here’s a further link from Wired for those who want to explore and get involved further;
And here’s Sugata Mitra’s 2013 TED acceptance speech: