On Wednesday morning at John B. Russwurm Elementary School in Harlem, students pointed excitedly at cat photos on the Internet. No, they weren’t goofing off. They were participating in a “self organized learning environment,” or SOLE, a teaching method where kids are given an open-ended, curiosity-stroking question and asked to research it in small groups. […]Continue reading
Why you should listen
Educational researcher Dr. Sugata Mitra’s “Hole in the Wall” experiments have shown that, in the absence of supervision or formal teaching, children can teach themselves and each other, if they’re motivated by curiosity and peer interest. In 1999, Mitra and his colleagues dug a hole in a wall bordering an urban slum in New Delhi, installed an Internet-connected PC, and left it there (with a hidden camera filming the area). What they saw was kids from the slum playing around with the computer and in the process learning how to use it and how to go online, and then teaching each other.
The "Hole in the Wall" project demonstrates that, even in the absence of any direct input from a teacher, an environment that stimulates curiosity can cause learning through self-instruction and peer-shared knowledge. Mitra, who's now a professor of educational technology at Newcastle University (UK), calls it "minimally invasive education."
At TED2013, Sugata Mitra made a bold TED Prize wish: Help me build a place where children can explore and learn on their own -- and teach one another -- using resouces from the worldwide cloud.
What others say
“Education-as-usual assumes that kids are empty vessels who need to be sat down in a room and filled with curricular content. Dr. Mitra's experiments prove that wrong.” — Linux Journal
Sugata Mitra’s TED talks
More news and ideas from Sugata Mitra
You’ve probably heard of Area 51. But how about Area Zero? Area Zero is the flagship center of Sugata Mitra’s School in the Cloud, the idea that won him the 2013 TED Prize. It’s the final of Mitra’s labs dedicated to self-organized learning, and it opened this morning in Gocharan in West Bengal, India. A […]Continue reading
Picture a classroom teacher without a lesson plan — a teacher who instead asks students an open-ended question to explore: Can animals think? Did dinosaurs exist? What is a soul? With the opening of Newcastle University’s SOLE Central on Monday, this vision is coming to life, in a research center where the concept can be tweaked […]Continue reading