Shah Rukh Khan: World famous education scientist Sugata Mitra believes that our kids can not only learn well, they can also teach well. Teachers may or may not be there, they will surely be able to teach each other. Today, he has traveled from UK to India just to speak with us — Sugata Mitra. The education scientist who has successfully changed the syllabus of teaching and learning across the globe.
Please welcome on stage, Mr. Sugata Mitra.
Sugata Mitra: What is the need for education? We can think about our mind like an empty suitcase that gets filled for sixteen years. It is packed well, so that we carry that suitcase in our journey of life and thus, be able to solve whatever problem we encounter. But this old model was changed by the internet. Because now, our school, our teachers, our books are in our pocket.
Eighteen years ago, I conducted a small experiment in Delhi. There was an underprivileged community in Kalkaji. There were a lot of children there. In those days, there were many children who had never seen a computer, never heard of the internet. So I thought what will happen if I give them a computer? So in a wall we made a slot, like an ATM machine and fixed a computer in it. In a few hours, I saw that the children were surfing the net. People said, "They don’t know English, so how are they surfing?" I said, "I do not have any idea." After two days, they had downloaded and installed a game and were playing!
Everyone was like, “Where did they learn that?”
I said, “I have no clue.”
About three months later, the school teacher asked me, “What have you done to these children?”
I asked “Why, what happened?”
He said, “One of them is quoting from some magazine called New Scientist".
I said, "In which language?"
He replied, “In English, sir.”
I was amazed. How was this possible? I took this method and went to England in 2007. There is a city on the banks of the Tyne river called Gateshead. At the local school in Gateshead, I did what I had done in Kalkaji. I gave the children a computer, asked them a question and left them. Then I noticed that repeatedly, however tough the question, if the kids were working together, they would come up with the answer. How did they understand? No idea. Then I asked myself about schools where there is not a single teacher. What can we do there? We thought, maybe through Skype or WhatsApp, we can send someone there. Whom shall we send? So we made a cloud. It’s called Granny cloud, meaning the grandparents cloud. People who have the time, love children and know the internet. They would go there and interact with them.
So we merged both the ideas and created a concept. In 2013, I got a prize from TED, so with that prize money, I created a concept called "School In The Cloud." It means a school in clouds. These days, schools keep the internet away from children, they pretend like it doesn’t exist. What should happen is the opposite. Internet should be in the school. Internet should be in the examination hall.
People asked, “So you want the children to cheat?”
I replied, "This is not cheating. When one has a problem in life, doesn’t one turn to the net for answers? So why not in the exams?"
So you are scared of exams, yes, I got that!
I have been saying this all over the world, nobody has done it yet, but they will do it. Now what will happen in "school in the cloud?" You will not teach. If you want to teach about volcanoes, you will go to class and say, “I had planned to teach about volcanoes today but I will not teach. I will give you twenty minutes, then you tell me.” Got it? So it’s the opposite.
I am not saying there should be no schools or teachers. What I am saying, is that through the internet you can take your work 60 percent ahead. Who will make the questions? The teacher naturally. So I am presenting you two ideas. One is a self organized education. Self organizing learning environment, or SOLE. The second idea is how this gets done. It’s not magic. There is a simple principle. Imagine 500 people leaving a cinema hall after a show. There are two exits. But people don’t push and jostle, right? A line gets formed. If I ask you who made the line? nobody did, it just got made. Right? There is a name for this in English: spontaneous order. So when spontaneous order and self-organizing system are merged, they will give us, I think, the future of education.