Wednesday, October 6, 2010

TED Video

This video was really interesting.  Overall, though, I had mixed feelings about the implications of Mitra's work.  On the one hand I was amazed and inspired by the power of technology to reach children who otherwise would have no meaningful education.  I believe that children have a natural curiosity that can be harnessed and directed toward educational goals, even in the absence of traditional classrooms and teachers.

I think it was interesting how he set up people to play "the role of the grandmother," encouraging these children from across the world.  This attests to the fact that often children just need someone to believe in them.  I think so much of the teacher's job is simply being there for and believing in the students.  I also agree with Mitra's assertion that if a teacher can be replaced by a computer, they should.

However, I also firmly believe that a great teacher cannot be replaced by a computer.  So many of the teachers who inspired me encouraged and mentored me in ways that are hard to put into words.  It wasn't what they taught me, but their enthusiasm, kindness and mentoring.  They were empathic and encouraging.  Seeing their excitement and interest in a subject area inspired me.  How could this be provided by a computer? 

While this technology and the findings of his study, if true, could bring education to millions of children who would otherwise receive none, I fear that this could potentially be used as a way to still deny many children the right to the best education.  Will this technology result in the privileged children of the world receiving the best education (with the best technology and the best human teachers) while the underclasses of the world are provided a "good enough" one-size-fits all education through computer technology?  Ideas can be great but often the results are disastrous and damaging (for instance, No Child Left Behind).

Maybe I am just being too paranoid, too idealistic, too old fashioned, or a mixture of all three.  I guess it boils down to the fact that while Mitra's talk inspired me at times, at others the whole idea kind of creeped me out. 

1 comment:

  1. I love your honesty in this post ("creeps me out" ;-) ). Thanks for sharing that. I guess what I walked away with after viewing the video was this sense that 1) I don't need to micromanage my students and be the sage on the stage; 2) my students can teach me if I let them; 3) I can tune in to a child's interests and passions, and let them roll! I share your view that sometimes all students need is someone who cares about them and encourages them.