Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Hole in the Wall

People often ask how unschooling works, and the main questions are generally centred around two things - how can children socialise if they're not in school, and how can they learn if they're not being taught.

The socialising question is one for another post, but anyone who knows my child, or even reads my blog would see that it's really a non-issue. Humans are social creatures, and children are born socialising. I don't see any reason to stifle that natural impulse by putting them in school ;)

As to learning, it's really about the same answer. Humans are born with a deep thirst for knowledge, and a profound ability for learning. The best thing we can do is to get out of the way. Children learn such a phenomenal amount of stuff - without being taught - before they ever get near a school.

One resource that I always want to point people to is Sugata Mitra's talk about the Hole-In-The-Wall project on the TED site. It's a fascinating video - a little long, and the best bits start maybe 7 minutes in, but the synopsis is that Mitra set up Internet computers in remote villages in India, where the children had virtually no schooling and no instruction in English, and left it alone. In very short time, the children not only taught themselves to use a computer and browse the Internet, they taught themselves English.

When Mitra came back to one village to check on the project, the first thing these children, who had previously had no exposure to English, said to him was, "we need a faster processor and a better mouse".

"We found that six to thirteen year olds can self instruct in a connected environment, irrespective of anything that we could measure."

"It was a demonstration of what a group of children can do without adult intervention."

"Primary education can happen on it's own."

"Learning is a self-organising system."

Essentially I believe that this kind of learning can happen all the time, with all children. My aim is to raise my child with love and respect, supporting her to follow her own learning. But mostly we're just having a lot of fun :)

1 comment:

  1. And how can they learn when we are not hitting them...?

    I wonder what else some back water village kids learned about the world through the internet...?



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