April 23, 2013

Child-Driven Education

I was forwarded this TED Talk by a teacher at Sandburg Elementary, and I was floored.  I loved the experiments the speaker created to see just HOW inquiry-driven children are, all over the world.

"... I went to Turin [Italy] in May [2010]. I sent all the teachers away from my group of 10 year-old students. I speak only English, they speak only Italian, so we had no way to communicate. I started writing English questions on the blackboard. [WHY DID DINOSAURS DIE OUT?]
The children looked at it and said, "What?"  I said, "Well, do it." 
They typed it into Google, translated it into Italian, went back into Italian Google. Fifteen minutes later --next question: where is Calcutta? This one, they took only 10 minutes.
I tried a really hard one then. "Who was Pythagoras, and what did he do?" There was silence for a while, then they said, "You've spelled it wrong. It's Pitagora." And then, in 20 minutes, the right-angled triangles began to appear on the screens. This sent shivers up my spine. These are 10 year-olds."

The take-away from the talk was this:  It's okay to leave the nuts and bolts of figuring out new technology to the students.  Not only will they figure it out, they'll figure out new ways to use it.  And they may find a thing or two to show each other.

Pieces from the talk that I found to be of great value are:
*  What the speaker said was supported by scientific evidence from his published experiments in areas of the world "...where good teachers won't go."  [0:00:31]
*  When given a new piece of technology in these settings, and left alone with a problem to solve and no instructions, the students did their best to figure it out.
*  Children will learn to do what they want to learn to do.
*  Collaboration enhances deeper learning and inspires increased curiosity.
*  Education is a self-organizing system where learning is an emergent phenomenon.

Experiments like this have been repeated, as mentioned in a previous post of mine on challenging the phrase, "Digital Natives. "

Interested in more TED talks on technology in education? 


Sugata Mitra shows how kids teach themselves

Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning revolution!

Nicholas Negroponte on One Laptop per Child

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