Hole in the wall

Is it possible for children to learn independent, using a computer?

This mathetic question was asked several years ago by Prof. Sugata Mitra, Newcastle University.
He did some spectaculair experiments in India, placing computers in public aereas, outside schools and observing what happened. In one experiment the computers were on a street corner, hidden in a wall. His conclusions so far:

* children learn themselves to browse in a short time by acting independent

* children teach other peers how to handle internet problems and how to use it

* childeren learn English independent, using an American accent

* childeren learn to deal with complex problems like DNA theory.

His overall conclusion: children are able to learn independent. It does not matter where they live and from what background they are. Triggering their emotions is the central point in this success, in his opinion.

Mitra states that it is important to situate computers in public places and not just in schools. The use of computers in schools is too often associated with forced learning and teachers do not succeed in bridging the gap between the curriculum and the necessary emotional drive.

Now Mitra is interested in the question: is it possible for children to finish a school by learning independent?

His observations and results so far are a plea for more emphasis on and research after mathetic learning. In this regard there is once more a growing revitalisation of the theories of Bloom/Anderson. It looks as if there is a growing tendency towards bypassing the school as an institution and laying emphasis on other public institutions. Some are doing this for philosophic, religious or political reasons, others are more pragmatic: "you can't wait untill schools are ready for the enormous changes. They are too slow".

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