Crushing on Sugata Mitra

I love this guy.  If he would hire me to experiment with learning around the world, I’d quit my job and join his entourage.  I just finished watching the first 5 minutes of his TED talk called “Can kids teach themselves” and I realized that I had seen the end of the video before, not the beginning.  In the beginning 5 minutes, he presents his data for teaching and learning in remoteness and the quality in education.  Fascinating!

I live about 90 minutes out of Toronto and teach 45 minutes out of Toronto.  Mitra describes this as socially and economically remote….while that’s somewhat shocking, it has enough truth in it that I can’t disagree.  Ignorance of race and culture is often disturbingly evident in my school and community.  Mitra argues that most of the teachers he spoke to in rural areas are not happy with their location.  He goes on to say that his hypothesis became how technology in education should not be focused in urban areas, but in rural areas where unhappy teachers can be supplemented by the individualization and immediacy of technology.  What I see is that places implementing BYOD or 1:1 philosophies are urban cultures.  Mitra argues that the greatest impact that educational technology can have is in the remote community where students have the most to gain.  We seem to be doing this backwards and Mitra argues that if we already live in a part of the world where teaching is great, students are doing fine, then we don’t need the alternative to education that technology provides.

This idea that I need to teach the struggling learners in my school about technology before anyone else is rocking my world.  Of course the easiest path to have success is to teach the students who are already affluent and engaged….but I want to have impact.

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