My Wish: Award Winning TED Talk

Have you seen this video?


Sugata Mitra begins with the statement that schools are obsolete. They are not needed for a child to learn. They were designed by the British empire, and were a good solution to create identical people who could read, write well (handwriting) and do basic calculations in their heads. We don’t need this for the masses anymore because we have computers who do these things for us now.

Screen Captures

In 1999, Mitra was teaching computer programming to college students. He wondered why so many rich people with “gifted” children. He decided to do an experiment with the children living in the slums near his office. He called it the “Hole in the wall” experiment. He gave these children access to a computer in English, didn’t tell them how to use it, and when he came back 8 hours later, he found the children browsing the internet and teaching each other how. These experiments continued until he realized that children will teach themselves when given the opportunity and access.

His conclusion: “In 9 months, a group of children left alone with a computer in any language will reach the same standard of a secretary in the west.”

Mitra upped the challenge and gave a remote group of children who did not speak English a computer loaded with information on biotechnology of DNA replication in English. He left them alone with the computer for two months. When he returned, he found that they had looked at the computer every day and could receive a 30% on a test on the information. Two months later with just the encouragement of a 22 year old friend who simply stood back and stood behind them in awe and wonder. The scores then jumped to 50% in another 2 months, which caught these children up to Mitra’s control school in New Delhi, a rich school with a trained biotechnology school.


What the world needs now is those who know how to find answers, read discerningly and think critically. When our brains feel threatened, they shut down. Tests and exams are interpreted as threats and work against learning.  Learning is the product of educational self-organization. Learning will emerge.  The teacher sets the process in motion and then sits back in awe and watches learning happen. Mitra proposes that we need to shift the balance back from threat to pleasure.

We need a curriculum of big questions.

Access + Interest + Encouragement = Learning

The SOLE challenge can be found HERE.

What do you think?



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