Here are the notes from the lessons. Please revise these, and be prepared for your controlled assessment next week.death-penalty-notes
Kid 1: Who’s the naughtiest kid you’ve ever taught?
Me: Let’s see… a couple of years ago a kid wrote a story called ’10 ways to kill Mr Babs.’
Kid 2: Did he get in trouble?
Me: How do you know it wasn’t a girl?
Kid 2: Was it?
Kid 1: So what did you do?
Me: I explained that he lacked the necessary trimness and education to murder me in all the ways he had described.
Kid 2: So you called him fat and thick.
Me:…..not in those words.
Kid 2: But you said…
Me: implied, suggested, hinted, never said…
Kid 2: But you meant to call him fat and thick. That’s harsh sir.
Kid 1: Yeah. Teachers are supposed to encourage kids to try their best and achieve their goals.
Kid 2: Not very encouraging, were you sir?
Me: Hold on. Are you guys saying that I should’ve encouraged this kid to achieve his dream of killing me?
Kid 1: Implied…
Kid 2: Suggested…
Kid 1: Hinted….
Me: Touche girls. Touche. I approve of this level of classroom banter. The force is strong in you.
Kid 2: Star Wars reference.
Kid 1: Sir, you are a proper nerd.
The image featured is of Professor Sugatra Mitra, and his ideas might change the structure and nature of education forever.
Sounds a little over the top, doesn’t it? How can one man’s ideas and research into how kids learn possibly change the glacial flow of mass pedagogy over the past one hundred years?
It is true that, despite the leaps and bounds in communication technology and our collective understanding of the way in which the human mind processes and utilises information, the basic premise of pedagogy has not changed.
- The teacher has knowledge, information and skills.
- The teacher transmits that knowledge, information or skill to the pupil.
- If the teacher is good, the pupil learns. If the teacher is bad, the pupil does not learn.
Mitra’s initial research showed that, in the absence of a teacher or any other authority figure, children from an incredibly deprived background could teacher themselves the basics of a difficult topic like molecular biology. In the process of trying to understand molecular biology, the children taught themselves English (which for many was a third language), how to use email for communication and how to search for information on the internet.
Without any help, these children were able to educate themselves enough to pass a test at the same level as other children who attended a local school.
Why is this important?
The role of teachers as merely transmitters of knowledge and bureaucrats needs to be changed. In the U.K, the majority of educational policy over the past twenty years has been based on the flawed premise that a teacher’s ‘performance’ in the classroom has the biggest impact on the educational outcomes for the children.
Actually, once all the factors such as class, gender, expectations, health and family (statistics pending) are taken into account, the effect of any individual teacher on the overall educational outcomes for a given child is not as powerful as one might think.
The beauty of S.O.L.E is this: no longer are children limited by their circumstances; be it dire rural poverty or the crushing neglect of inner-city areas. If we take on Mitra’s challenge, and formulate a new way to educate pupils, one that allows them the freedom to explore a topic, while teaching themselves the necessary skills, we may be on the verge of creating an educational system that does not rely on the acting skills of any given teacher, but on the self-organised and intrinsic motivation of the pupils.