I can remember picking O up after school one afternoon and in the car on the way home she proudly told me that she could count in 3's. O then repeated the three times table and she was completely right. When I asked who had taught her to count in 3's, O replied quite matter of factly "oh, I taught myself, I just figured it out." O was 4 years of age!
A few nights ago Daddy superhero and I were watching a TED talk by Sugata Mitra on the School in the Cloud. School in the Cloud is a project that Sugata has set up primarily in India but it is gradually spreading to become a worldwide project. The idea behind the project is that children can explore and learn from each other using resources and mentors from the Cloud.
Sugata has founded SOLE as a result of the Hole in the Wall experiment. SOLE is a global experiment that aims to turn the world of education on its head through Self Organised Learning Environments (SOLEs.)
A SOLE can exist anywhere in the world where there is a computer, an internet connecton and most importantly, students who are willing to learn. At the beginning of a SOLE session, an educator poses a Big Question to the students.
How can teachers prepare students for the future without knowing what the future will be like?The Big Question is what fires up the students curiousity and imagination and leads them to wanting to discover the answer. Big Questions are questions that don't necessarily have a right or wrong answer. They are often open ended and may be difficult to answer, they may even be unnanswerable. The aim of the Big Question is to encourage deep and long conversations between the students. To encourage them to work collaboratively, to research, use reason and think critically.
Big Questions aren't just about finding the right answers, but also about students discovering the methods and skills that are needed to find the answers.
Within a SOLE, students are given the freedom to learn collaboratively with each other using the internet. During the session students can move around, change groups, share information and spy on other groups to gain new information that they can report back to their group. At the completion of the SOLE session students have the opportunity to share with their peers what they learnt during the session.
It sounds like an absolute brilliant concept - what a wonderful way to discover new information and learn.
O watched part of the TED talk and was fascinated by the concept that children who had never seen a computer before could teach themselves how to use the internet. That these children in remote parts of India could gain knowledge, that if had they no access to the internet they probably would never had learnt.
O and L are always asking deep and meaningful questions, so I thought that I would ask one back to get O's brain ticking over. I decided to start with a "simple" Big Question."
What does तुम चालाक हो mean? And what language is it?
Well, sort of simple!
And this is how O went. O became very excited when she read the original question and then wanted to go further with her research. She navigated through the pages on Google that she wanted to read and copied the information that she thought was relevant!
O wanted to keep going with the questions "ask me a harder one Mummy!"
The tricky part is going to be convincing O that she needs to spend most of the school holidays playing!
I wonder how many of her friends that she will recruit into our Superhero School In The Cloud in the meantime!