Monday, March 25, 2013

Sugata Mitra - a school in the cloud

Boom! It's a very entertaining and thought provoking TED talk - again! If this research and work is right, then the teaching role needs examining. Be the supportive "Grandma" who simply encourages students with their learning. Give them decent enough questions to investigate and let the students do the work. There is so much said in this talk - it's hard to know where to begin. "Don't make learning happen, allow it to happen". A simple statement with plenty of punch. We scaffold, we support, we explain, we model, we re-explain, we model again, we pull our hair out and then we keep going anyway - 'cos whether they want it or not, these students ARE going to learn this. "I've put way too much into this lesson for it not to be a success". Sound familiar? So - how can teachers allow learning to happen? Kath Murdoch had a similar message a couple of years ago when she presented at Inspired Learning in Palmerston North. She talked about the type of classroom where curiosity and real inquiry can occur. It's up to teacher to cultivate the right environment - risk taking, curiosity, wonderment and awe - all need to be alive and well. What I did like about the download from the TED talk was that it provides the "template" to work from. It has suggested time frames, sample questions and so on. So, for a Novice teacher who is having their first "go" at SOLE, you couldn't really go wrong. So, how is it different to "passion projects"? To me, the obvious difference is that in SOLE the suggestion is to have students working in groups of 4 and to having a "manager". This is were the "self organising" aspect of SOLE kicks in. And I really like this part - not a Leader, don't make that mistake, but a helper/manager. The message that I got from this TED talk was that students can learn without the traditional teacher being nearby. In fact, a supportive "grandma type" thousands of kilometers away will do just fine! We'll be watching the TED talk tomorrow and I'll be leaving it with staff to ponder for a while. It is recommended that this is suitable for 8-12 year olds. I'll be following up with my senior team to see if they would be prepared to follow the suggested plan and to implement it, perhaps once a week. I think it would be beneficial for students questioning skills, information finding and presenting skills.

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