“What do machines really do? They increase the number of things we can do without thinking. Things we do without thinking - there's the real danger.”
Frank Herbert

God Emperor of Dune

Letting it Happen


I’ve had this video open in a browser window for a few weeks – this morning I finally watched it. In it is a description of a wonderful experiment where a computer was made available in a remote area to children who were computer-illiterate – and who, on their own, managed to learn how to use it.

The presenter, Sugata Mitra, sums up his presentation with four points:

  1. Remoteness effects the quality of education (less quality in remote areas).
  2. Educationl Technology should be introduced into remote areas first.
  3. Values are acquired (doctrine and dogma are imposed).
  4. Learning is a self-organizing system.

My Take on Education

A couple of months ago I happened to be in one of the cities in our vicinity and I happened to walk by a school where I over-heard a teacher lecturing to a class of children. This is in a fairly well-to-do country in a modern and developed city. She had a nasal voice and spiritless/dead presenceĀ – a shudder passed through me when I heard her (and it’s been many years since I’ve been in school). I promised myself then that my children would not spend time in such a school or in the presence of such people.

The best educational alternative I know of and working to create is:

  1. Living in a remote area (away from urban centers) where a “self-sustaining” life means that what you do is closely related to how you live. You create the physical circumstances in which you live.
  2. Allowing the natural challenges that arise in a self-sustaining environment to naturally motivate learning.
  3. Making tools and knowledge available to facilitate home-schooling.
  4. Hopefully living in a community in which there are diverse needs and diverse learning options (beyond a single house-hold) so that individual children can pursue and specialize in what interests them most.

Sugata Mitra’s presentation is a wonderful reminder of the inherent qualities we all carry around with us. These qualities are often trampled by education systems that were designed to create unimaginative workers. Sugata Mitra’s experiment in introducing technology comes with an interesting side-effect – it takes the “trampling system and it’s agents” out of the equation – which explains the resurfacing of natural human qualities. There still needs to be a View for learning – and that is not something that technology can supply. I believe that remote areas can be a natural resource for inspired learning – they are imbued with a natural life View.

This entry was posted in AltEco, Enjoy, Expanding, inside, outside. You are welcome to add your comment

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