The Rebirth of Learning Starts With Mindset

The Rebirth of Learning Starts With Mindset

ted prize 2013: a wish to inspire the world

The Huffington Post

By Julia Li

Click here
to read an original op-ed from the TED speaker who inspired this post
and watch the TEDTalk below.

Professor Sugata Mitra didn’t invent student-driven learning. But he
is championing field research and a compelling case that there has
never been a time in history when the SOLE (self-organized learning
environment) model is so vital to children’s learning. Self-organized
learning complements traditional education systems. In fact,
self-guided learning is already gaining traction in pockets around the
world, including in Armenia where teenagers are leading their own
structured learning projects and field studies thanks to
Internet-connected after-school programs, and a slightly younger
generation of mentors playing the role of Professor Mitra’s “granny
network.” The program in Armenia and other places around the world
prioritizes curiosity and skills acquisition, not assessment.

I deeply admire Dr. Sugata’s work, his structured approach to SOLE,
and his willingness to turn research into results with the support of
TED. We have enough academic dissertations about the future of
learning when action is what is most needed. Hopefully now
child-driven, self-guided learning will gain serious attention from
the general public and resources to begin the learning system
revolution in earnest — one that will prepare a new generation of
minds to collaborate, problem-solve and succeed in the fast moving New
Machine age.

China’s leader Chairman Mao once said “a single spark can combust
into a mighty flame
(æ=98=9Fæ=98=9Fä¹=8Bç=81«ï¼=8Cå=8F¯ä»¥ç=87=8Eå=8E=9F).” Sugata’s talk
lit a flame at TED ’13, perhaps creating a wild fire that leads to the
reinvention of the world’s education system. With the right attention
from government policy makers, business leaders, and most importantly,
parents, the dawn of student-driven learning may be upon us.

You see, the flaw in our education system is not only limited to
learning among children, but in fact, extends to across age groups,
from young professionals to retirees. The fundamental questions we
must ask ourselves are these: When is the student a better teacher,
and the teacher a better student? What is important to learn and why?
How do we learn and who should take responsibility for setting up
these systems?

For example, we assume adults should educate children, but perhaps
it’s time to give children some authority, and even official
recognition to teach adults, particularly in areas of the Internet,
science, arts and other subjects.

And retirees could be brought into a new kind of education system to
mentor children to teach themselves, modeling optimism, endurance, and
patience. From a technology standpoint, I see a future where new
learning formats leverage gaming and cloud-based competition to help
children create their own experiential learning journeys, connected to
their peers around the world.

Professor Mitra’s SOLE model is not the ultimate solution to our
children’s learning needs, but it sets a clear direction for us to
rethink our education system and redefine the concept of education
itself. n Chinese, education is æ=95=99è=82² which directly
translated means “Teach and Foster”; however, learning is å-¦ä¹ which
directly translated is “learn and repeat practicing.” I appreciate
the ancient wisdom here.

Our school systems have been focused on teaching knowledge and
skills, but not on fostering important behavioral qualities that allow
learning such as attitude, mindset, receptivity to new ideas and
persistence. Who should be responsible for this part of education?
Ideally this should be the parent’s responsibility. The question is:
Who is giving parents that knowledge?

The SOLE model might not be the best way to equip our children with
mindset qualities that allow “repeat practicing” which requires
patience and focus. This is particularly important today with kids’
attention spans becoming shorter (due to a variety of factors in our
modern, highly stimulated society).

If we see a learned person as the result of our education system,
children become the “customer” and teachers become the “providers” of
this business we call education. Logically, the process is then
structured to maximize the ability of the customer to acquire new
skills, which naturally would then embrace self-organized learning
concepts. We need tomorrow’s education system to become an ecosystem
where the role of student and teacher is continually redefined
depending on the situation and learning need. This too is a mindset
change. Are we ready?

With the 2013 TED Prize going toward igniting a student-directed
learning movement, I believe impact extends from existing school
systems, especially in poor regions where access to high-quality
learning is in short supply, to online learning environments where the
cloud is the classroom. We should consider SOLE an addition to
existing education, at least in the short term, as we reinvent the
best learning experiences and observe results.

For SOLE to work, an unprecedented level of collaboration is required
from educational content publishers, technology companies, teachers,
parents, governments, and business. We need to ready ourselves for the
baton to be passed from Professor Mitra to leaders in learning
everywhere who have the influence and experience to architect
education for the New Machine age. The question is who will lead this
revolution? Perhaps our children will!

TED and The Huffington Post invite you to take the SOLE Challenge, a
unique contest in which we’re asking teachers and parents to create
child-centered learning labs in their homes and schools. Write an 800
to 1,000 word blog post on your experiences and send it to
[email protected] Three winning submissions will get to
attend TED Youth 2013.

Ideas are not set in stone. When exposed to thoughtful people, they
morph and adapt into their most potent form. TEDWeekends will
highlight some of today’s most intriguing ideas and allow them to
develop in real time through your voice! Tweet #TEDWeekends to share
your perspective or email [email protected]ï¬ to learn
about future weekend’s ideas to contribute as a writer.

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