Wednesday, February 27, 2013

child centered learning...

Sugatra Mitra was awarded the 2013 TED prize for his work in education. In his talk, Mitra points out that schooling as it exists now was created 300 years ago in the British Empire.
“The Victorians created a global computer made up of people. It’s called the bureaucratic administrative machine,” says Mitra, in the bold opening of his talk. “In order to keep that running, you need lots and lots of people. They must be identical to each other … So they created a system, called school, to make parts [for this human computer]. They must have good handwriting, they must be able to read, and they must be able to add, subtract and do division.”
But can the computer be enough? If the computer empowers you in the use of other tools, we are on the right track. If those other tools are forgotten, we are off track by miles.

What Mitra has discovered is what some few educators have long known since Comenius. Learning is a force within the human genome. It is the natural state of the child and left to their own devices, children will learn, and yet we put them in schools, where educators in a harsh environment demanding accountability, testing and standards, and lacking in creative resources and opportunities remove the life from learning.

The following is from
In the world of education reform, Mitra's work falls squarely on the side of the conversation--along with longtime TED Talk all-star Sir Ken Robinson--that says what schools need most is to enable new kinds of creativity and learner-centeredness, without trying to micromanage the outcomes. The move to create "maker spaces" in U.S. schools equipped with 3-D printers and the like is another example of this line of thinking, which stands in stark contrast to innovators like Sal Khan of Khan Academy, who focuses on enabling students to learn traditional subjects like math more quickly and efficiently, with outcomes measurable on standardized tests.
Remember when schools had wood shops and the necessity of learning by doing was known  and widely accepted by American educators?

Today in the Clear Spring School wood shop, first, second and third grade students finished their Spanish Galleon models, and the 7th, 8th and 9th grade students finished their bench for the office and assembled the 5 board benches for their back porch.

Make, fix and create...


  1. That huge "human computer" couldn't function without the people who actually made things. But the work of those folks wasn't much admired or valued.


  2. It is like corporate life today. the ceos and cfos get the big bucks while the ones who do most of the work get pennies on the dollar. or look at the real death panels... hospital ceos get multi million dollar salaries while many choose to forgo health care because they can't afford it.