Kids in India and Ethopia can do it, shouldn’t we be able to do it better?

November 25, 2012 — Leave a comment

I really enjoyed the blog post made by George Couros titled “You Should Read.” He has curated excellent pieces worthy of our attention. Especially, his link to the New York Times article. I was interested to discover that “children and teenagers ages 8 to 18 has grown so fast that they on average spend twice as much time with screens each year as they spend in school” so says  Vicky Rideout. What does this mean for learning and attention? What does this mean for education and what the classroom might look like?

I have often said that it is hard to compete with video games and the like for children’s attention.  I totally agree with the teachers interviewed that it is very challenging to capture and maintain children’s attention. I personally feel like an each and everyday. I have even developed a zany fashion sense to capture kids’ imaginations as a children’s entertainer might also do.  It is amazing to see people considering that the wide spread of distraction among students could be a value judgement on a new way of learning and being.  Maybe ADHD isn’t so bad? Maybe it’s the new normal that we must adjust to? Or, here is a scary thought, maybe by adjusting my teaching style of edutainment (and even my fashion choices) I am magnifying this attention issue and distractibility.

It’s also scary to consider that heavy technology use makes daily life seem uninteresting. Could the internet bring about a totally disengaged population?  I am also reading the futurist novel “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline (who might drive a delorean) in which the people in this dystopian world spend most of their time plugged in to an augmented reality.

Okay, back to clever Mr. Couros’ curating.  So, in response to this NY Times article, was Cathy Davidson’s response .  Brilliant. Consider what happens when you drop a bunch of english based tablets to kids in Ethopia. Read and find out.  But, here is the spoiler: Remember Sugata Mitra’s experiments in India?  Watch this TED talk about the Hole in the Wall Project to remember. Bottom line, Cathy Davidson’s response is the same as Dr. Mitra’s.  Remarkable.

So, kids in Ethopia and India are learning amazing things without teachers. What might kids in Canada with their own iPads and a teacher be able to do?  More or less?




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