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The Future Of Education: Students Have To Take Control Of Their Own Education

29/11/2016 12:18

Helsinki-born HundrED is a global, non-profit project building a vision of education for the next 100 years. The first 75 experiments are being trialled in schools across Finland, with a further 100 case studies on ambitious educational projects and innovations being collected from around the world. Joining these innovations are 100 interviews with global thought leaders, aiming to discover the ways in which education needs to change to prepare children for a rapidly changing world...

In an interview with HundrED, Sugata Mitra, professor of educational technology at Newcastle University, discusses the skills today's students need, and the role that teaching plays...

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We are in the grip of two things: one is history, and the other is exponential change. We are not quite used to dealing with things changing exponentially. Because of this, schools aren't teaching the skills students need today. Therefore, students have to take control of their own education. I often give an example of transportation - everyone who buys a car would, in theory, like a chauffeur, but in practice they can't. You have to drive yourself.

Data seems to show that if children work in groups, are unsupervised and have access to the internet, they are able to learn almost anything by themselves.

In Self Organised Learning Environments (SOLEs) the teacher becomes a friend. It's as though a group of you are going somewhere unknown and you have a trustworthy friend, who also doesn't know where you are going, but who could be useful. A comforting person to have around.

I think the purpose of schooling is to enable people to live happy, healthy and productive lives. Now, any government will agree with that, of course, but is the schooling system really designed for that? I think not. I think a lot of the schooling system is devised to produce a workforce that will serve a ruling class.

Governments need to rethink what should be done in schooling so that children will be happy, will be healthy and will be productive. As soon as that happens, a lot of things will drop out of the curriculum. For example, the ability to multiply three digit numbers by two digit numbers on pencil and paper is no longer something that will make your child very productive.

There are many aspects of traditional teaching that should still be used however. For example, the ability to raise an interesting issue or question, which perhaps learners would not have raised by themselves.

As a teacher you can say something like: 'guess what, I was wondering why eggs are egg shaped.' Usually nine year olds would react by saying: 'yeah, well they are egg shaped because...' and they'll say something absurd, so then you ask: 'are you sure?' And they'll say no, which means you can prompt: 'do you think you could use the internet and figure it out?'

Suddenly you've sparked research into three dimensional geometry.

To read Sugata Mitra's full interview, visit https://hundred.org

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