The title question ‘why do children need education’ has been answered in many ways, many times over. There is no doubt in my mind that in today’s world, more than ever before, education can make life a lot easier and more successful for anyone.
However, I personally feel that we should give our children a lot more credit than we usually do – and let them be a lot more often than we normally do. We are all born with an inner guidance that provides us with the best direction to follow at any time. If only we didn’t forget how to listen to it…
Sugata Mitra, education scientist and speaker from the video below points out how the trouble comes from places where children have no formal education. He has also been experimenting with solutions for these remote areas of the world where teachers are most needed – and wouldn’t go.
Years ago he started with a simple experiment which proved that kids are more than capable of self-educating themselves via Internet access. His discoveries, and results children achieved while learning on their own, keep changing the way we think about teaching.
In 1999, Sugata 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.
In the following years they replicated the experiment in other parts of India, urban and rural, with similar results, challenging some of the key assumptions of formal education. 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.”