Over ten years of research shows how kids teach themselves complex subjects with NO adult or teacher supervision or guidance. How does this affect home schooling families or anyone else who wants their children learning at home?
On this TED Talk video, Sugatra Mitra discusses some of the highlights from his worldwide learning experiments.
He's observed poor village children in remote areas of India and Africa, most who have never touched a computer, and children from affluent communities in England and Italy. The conclusions are the same...
Young children are capable of directing their own education, with no guidance or supervision from adults or teachers.
These children learned, on their own, very complex subjects in biology, mathematics, and even philosophy. Oftentimes in less than an hour!
In some of the experiments they place a computer with Internet connection in a wall of a poor village. The poor village kids start to play with the computer and experiment out of curiosity. And then they begin to learn very amazing things all on their own, and at a very fast rate!
These experiments add more proof that you won't mess up your kids by home schooling, because learning is our natural instinct. There's no reasonable disadvantage to learning at home.
In some notable observations, poor village kids, who've never touched a computer, quickly learned to manipulate electronic devices to create music and even improve their language skills.
The only concern I have about these amazing results is that all "knowledge" is not equal.
The children in these worldwide experiments used the Internet to get information on their own. This is wonderful for things like mathematics, many sciences, engineering, possibly learning how to do practical things like fix a flat tire.
No doubt the Internet -- a free and non-centrally-controlled or censored Internet -- is an powerful tool for spreading knowledge and communicating. Much like the printing press was (and still is).
But children (and adults) need to learn to think critically, how to analyze their sources, and quickly discover biases.
This is especially true for subjects like literature, philosophy, history, and topics that affect our daily lives like economics, finances, and geopolitics.
I couldn't tell from the video if Mitra's experiments address these issues.
Indeed, the self-taught method and Classical education, which many home school families use, carries an important advantage here.
Parents have direct input, as they should, especially while their children are very young. And Classical education places a lot of emphasis on critical thinking and analysis.
Other than that, it is amazing to see how kids learn to use a computer and the Internet to discover and learn many amazing and complex things, without the heavy hand of any adult.
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