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Sound and Fury

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Sometimes I get involved in things and then spend days wondering if I’m crazy, or stupid or disengaged. This weekend has been one of those times.

It started off with a few Facebook posts which were reactions to a talk Sugata Mitra had just given about his “hole-in-the-wall” experiments. I don’t really want to go into all the ifs, ands and buts, but the thrust of the arguments seemed to have two strings:

The first was that Mr Mitra was talking about schools that were empty of teachers and maybe that was a good thing and the second was that his audience – teachers – were applauding this idea.

Being somewhat garrulous and passionate – a lethal combination – I leapt into the fray and wondered why the Facebook posts were offended, disappointed, concerned by Mr Mitra’s comments (he has a right to say whatever he likes) when it was the applause of the teachers that should be the focus. Why were teachers agreeing with this man that schools without teachers are a “good thing”?

Then I revisited the lecture and listened to it again – very carefully and paused it when I needed to think and rewound it if I thought I hadn’t heard clearly. These are my conclusions to what he said:

– teaching and learning are different things – we as teachers KNOW THIS.
– ask the right questions – we as teachers KNOW THIS.
– absent yourself from the learning space – we as teachers KNOW THIS.
– learning in a community is better than learning in isolation – we as teachers KNOW THIS.
– learn by doing – we as teachers KNOW THIS.
– schooling as we know it has to change to meet the demands of the 21st century – we as teacher KNOW THIS.
– good teachers make themselves progressively unnecessary – we as teachers KNOW THIS.

Why then has this talk provoked such deep concern, unease and worry?

I don’t know.


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