TED Weekends reimagines education

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At TED2013, Sugata Mitra accepted the TED Prize for 2013 with a striking talk.  Sugata Mitra: Build a School in the Cloud Sugata Mitra: Build a School in the Cloud His wish: for children to learn about any variety of subjects through self-organized learning. While this bold project will take form with a “School in the Cloud” in India, Mitra encourages members of our community to help with a global paradigm change by creating their own self-organized learning environments and fostering a sense of wonder in children.

A special edition of TED Weekends presents essays inspired by Mitra’s talk. On Wednesday, we shared five of these great essays. Below, find three more.

Tom Healy: Seeing Fire in the Clouds

Last night, as I listened to Dr. Sugata Mitra, TED’s 2013 Wish Prize winner, discuss the experiments in education that led to the invention of the SOLE, his self-organizing learning environment, I thought about the impossible.

Dr. Mitra has talked in the past about how difficult it is to get good teachers to go, paradoxically, where they are needed the most: low-income and/or rural areas where, simply, people are too poor and the areas are too dangerous, too out of the way to attract the necessary educators. It’s not only difficult, it’s usually impossible. Dr. Mitra is fond of quoting the science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke: “If children have interest, then education happens.” There’s no fiction in that. Just truth and common sense — that Dr. Mitra has backed with serious science. Read the full essay »

John McWhorter: Back to the Future

Sugata Mitra’s inspiration offers promise in returning learning to what humans are programmed for.

And that is not what we today think of as “school.” The books-and-blackboards model of education will always be most productively engaged by students of two sorts.

One is the middle-class child from a quiet, book-lined home, in which concentration in solitude is drunk in from toddlerhood.

The other is the child of driven immigrant families, uniquely dedicated to their children’s making the most of the new circumstances. Read the full essay »

Jessie Woolley-Wilson: Student-centered, Student-driven

In order to unlock the human potential of a child, we must first unlock their learning potential. For those of us in the Next Generation Learning community who hope to create a paradigm of learning that is at once student centered and student driven, very engaging and highly effective, Sugata Mitra’s Self Organized Learning Environment (SOLE) is a provocative vision for the future. As an education innovator, optimist, and dreamer, I am captivated by the young children featured in Mitra’s “Hole in the Wall” videos who seem genuinely delighted and undaunted by the perplexing challenges they are asked to solve on their own. I admire the daring experimentation of Mitra’s model and his wish to build a school in the cloud — one that has the potential to serve millions of undeserved children around the globe.

This is a wish about access. This is a wish about high expectations. This is a wish about hope — about seeing around impediments to the infinite possibilities. Read the full essay »