Human Ingenuity and the Future of Education

If you haven’t yet had the chance to listen to education scientist Sugata Mitra talk about his “Hole in the Wall” experiments, you’re in for a treat. If you have, you’ll no doubt find this presentation filmed at TedGlobal 2010 to be chock-full of implications.

How information is stored has a tremendous shaping influence on human culture. In the early days, information was stored in the brains of men and women and passed on from generation to generation through oral tradition. The idea of writing came along, allowing humans to store information in external hard drives – first on stones, then on bark and eventually on paper. Oral tradition became less important as the written record gained sway.

Then came the digital revolution. The information age ushered in unprecedented access to information worldwide. With a little bit of bandwidth and no government censorship everyone in the world can peer through the looking glass into the entire body of knowledge that man has accumulated throughout recorded history (and then some!).

No longer is it necessary to have a head full of information to be at the top of the information food chain. Now it seems that the ability to access that information is more important than possessing the information.

Only time will tell whether this new access levels the playing field or not, but I must applaud Dr. Mitra on his willingness to challenge widely held assumptions in an attempt to improve the quality of education worldwide, especially in the corners of the earth that have been written off by the rest of the world.

Kudos, Dr, Mitra!

15 thoughts on “Human Ingenuity and the Future of Education

  1. Lady Leo

    I love the poetry and artistry you share on this blog, but today’s post was the first to bring me to tears.
    The possibility in people is the miracle. Life has the ability to organize itself to bring forth unbelievable blessings. It is possible for life to create what it was supposed to but we must become assistants and not hijackers.


  2. Brad

    It is interesting to see how children take initiative and what they will learn when given an opportunity, free of adult expectations. I’m a firm believer in guidance however Mr. Mitra’s work has me thinking that we could benefit from supporting the “creative” side of learning a whole lot more.
    And then if we take into consideration a point made in yesterday’s post “……they shine when you remind them that they matter”, we might just really tap into the creative unlimited potential of each other – WOW, now that’s exciting stuff worth getting your day started !!


    1. Expectations stick to us like fly paper and they are easily mistaken for parts of our personality or just “who we are” or “how life is.” Regular review of our expectations and a willingness to reconsider them in the heat of the moment is a valuable and unfortunately rare skill!


      1. Joshua

        With you on that one, and constant revision of those things we tend to strap to ourselves and in turn our children should be the norm, not the rare exception!!!
        Thanks for this today, once again inspired in a new direction, Onward and Upward!!!!!


  3. Colin

    There are some amazing things in that video! I have read that as generations go forward, the ability to access information goes up, but the ability to act on that information is decreasing. Learning to work in groups from the get-go might be the solution to this problem. Dr. Mitra’s method would also solve the issue of teaching for different learning styles, as the child would interact with the group in their own natural way. This is very exciting stuff!


  4. cinson01

    Extremely interesting. What comes to mind is that there is a difference between education and ‘schooling’, and there is a real magical process that happens when kids are ignited to learn from the inside out. Also, Professor Mitra’s experiment has me pondering the Internet’s ability to level the playing field so to speak in remote or poor areas of the world. A lot of great stuff to consider here – thanks for the post!


    1. They are capable of so much more than we think, yet we tend to force them into limited or limiting roles based on our own preconceived notions of what they should be doing or how they should be acting. Dr. Mitra is lifting an important veil that has impeded progress in education and learning for far too long!


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