tablets in Ethiopia: learning vs teaching

Mary Lou Jepsen, Alan Kay and Nicholas Negropo...
Mary Lou Jepsen, Alan Kay and Nicholas Negroponte unveil the $100 Laptop. 
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This research has been widely shared but it is worth reading these two articles originally published in the MIT Technology Review as well as the full-length video of Nicholas Negroponte and others. I have also included a link to the recent EmTech 2012 Conference video with some transcribed snippets of Negroponte presenting at the recent EmTech 2012 Conference.  (Additional conference videos at site. )

Nicholas Negroponte believes that kids can learn without being taught, something he learned while conducting global research using tablet computers in Ethiopia. I guess they don't read back issues of Growing Without Schooling at MIT: unschooling families have experienced this and much more across a wider span of years.

Even so, it is wonderful to hear this realization breaking ground somewhere since public schools seem entrenched in the factory model and aspire to uniformity of mental skills and knowledge, a form of brainwashing and an administrative overgrowth made possible by removing the regulatory influence of families in the public school system. When the users of a system have no power, it is not democratic and it is not efficient. We confuse education with schooling and we no longer think that people can learn, when people naturally learn as they live. These articles offer evidence of how children can learn far more than we imagine, something many  unschoolers have experienced firsthand.

EmTech Preview: Another Way to Think about Learning | MIT Technology Review:  "OLPC [One Laptop Per Child] represents about $1 billion in sales and deployment worldwide since 2005—it’s bigger than most people think. What have we learned? We learned that kids learn a great deal by themselves. The question is, how much?" ...

"To answer that question, we have now turned our attention to the 100 million kids worldwide who do not go to first grade. Most of them do not go because there is no school, there are no literate adults in their village, and there is little promise of that changing soon. My colleagues and I have started an experiment in two such villages, asking a simple question: can children learn how to read on their own?"

"I believe that we get into trouble when knowing becomes a surrogate for learning. We know that a vast recall of facts about something is in no way a measure of understanding them. At best, it is necessary but not sufficient. And yet we subject our kids to memorizing. We seem to believe that rote learning is akin to physical exercise, good for their minds. And, quite conveniently, we can test whether the facts stuck, like spaghetti to a wall. In some cases knowledge is so drilled in that you know and hate a subject at the same time."
...
Will this lead to deep reading? The votes are still out. But if a child can learn to read, he or she can read to learn. If these kids are reading at, say, a third-grade level in 18 months, that would be transformational. [NOTE: Again, they don't read about the ongoing control group unschoolers are raising.]

Given Tablets but No Teachers, Ethiopian Children Teach Themselves | MIT Technology Review: "Earlier this year, OLPC workers dropped off closed boxes containing the tablets, taped shut, with no instruction. “I thought the kids would play with the boxes. Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, found the on-off switch … powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child, per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs in the village, and within five months, they had hacked Android,” Negroponte said. “Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera, and they figured out the camera, and had hacked Android.”"

Emerging Technologies Conference at MIT:
Video metadata: Emerging technologies are democratizing education and rapidly expanding the availability and affordability of education around the globe. Participants: Jason Pontin (MIT Technology Review), Nicholas Negroponte (One Laptop Per Child), Idit Harel Caperton (World Wide Workshop), Brian Waniewski (Istitute of Play), Anant Agarwal (edX)

Nicholas Negroponte (selected snippets, my transcription)
" My views are very different than most ... particularly here at MIT ... I don't think our role is teaching at all ... what we came here to do is to move the boundaries of knowledge ... I am that somewhat different view of MITs role ...

it's the very early stages [of learning] ... why do I think its all going in the wrong direction ... the difference between education and learning ...  education is like banking ... learning isn't necessarily going to be institutionalized ... there's not a person in this role that would ... [favor] age segregation .... the difference between knowing and understanding ... we test people on what they know .... you might test very well but you don't understand a thing ....  we put all of the value on knowing ... [so we can test] ... one laptop for child led us to what we do today ... sadly our partner was always the government and the government wanted us to use schools ... [shows pictures of kids in rows all doing the same thing vs pictures of kids gathered informally around the teacher or each other, collaborating] ... what do we learn from it? .... kids were teaching their parents how to read and write ... that turned around the equation where the child is the recipient ... versus the child as teacher .... and you have today 100 million kids who do not go to 1st grade ... maybe we can think about .... what if we go to these parts of the world where there are no schools .... we can try an experiment where the kids teach themselves .... two villages that ... had never seen a word ... all ... were illiterate .. we brought as many tablets as there were children and on the tablet were hundreds of applications .... all English ... left the boxes in the village closed, no instruction, no human being ... within 5 days they using 47 apps per child per day ... within two weeks they were singing ABC songs ... and within two months they had hacked Android ... [the laptops record every gesture etc done on the tablet; these SIM cards are removed once a week: this is available and open data] this village is transformed .... talk about collaboration [picture] .... they were all using different apps ... in a school setting, an adult was saying "now we do this" and "now we do that" ....  this was far richer, far more collaborative ... will they learn how to read? [Negroponte thinks that cusp happens in the third grade: MIT really should learn about unschooling and kids learning to read at different ages] ....  if they can, it not only has impact on the 100 million kids who don't go to school but it might tell them something about what we're doing in this country ....
...
what you're trying to do is develop the passion for learning ... school .. gets rid of that passion ... in developing countries its so rote ... by the third grade their heads are down and by the third grade ... in those three years the joy of learning was whipped out of those kids sometimes literally ... the focus, the attention, the passion is just incredible ...

the meteoric rise of modern instructionism is alarming ....
you want the kids to learn how to learn ....
for the first 5 or 6 years of school you really want them to learn about learning itself ....
Enhanced by Zemanta
Post a Comment