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The Learning Power of Children [Nov. 1st, 2012|10:44 am]
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[Current Mood |awake]

The One Laptop Per Child project (OLPC for short) has been giving tablet notebooks with solar chargers to various schools in Africa and testing the results.

They tried a new experiment in two remote Ethiopian villages where no one--adult or child--had ever seen a written word.  Delivered boxes--taped up boxes--to the villages and left them.  What happened is...well, look:


So the take-home lesson on human potential is this: human children are born knowing how to learn.  Learning is what humans do.  These kids are over-the-roof smart and capable; discovery learning--figuring it out for themselves, self-motivated learning--is part of our human nature.

And we're wasting every kid who--for any reason at all--doesn't learn, doesn't want to learn, is afraid to learn, isn't allowed to learn, is kept from being all he or she could be.

(copied from my post at SFF.net)

[User Picture]From: pickledginger
2012-11-01 06:34 pm (UTC)
That's fantastic! The kids did better -- ar least, in some ways -- than if they'd had teachers.
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[User Picture]From: bagfish
2012-11-01 08:32 pm (UTC)
This story has made my day - the human brain is an amazing thing :)
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[User Picture]From: brendanpodger
2012-11-01 10:27 pm (UTC)
I love the guided learning program Nell too. We may not be at the level of The Young Lady's Illustrated Primer yet, but this is a great start.
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From: keetara
2012-11-01 10:49 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure why they had any doubt that the kids would do this. I've always know that kids of ~any~ color, race, creed, what ever, have always been voracious learners when given the chance. Humans have to be... it's the only way we survived and became the top of the food chain.

However, it's still absolutely hysterical that they hacked the Android OS!!
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[User Picture]From: beledibabe
2012-11-01 10:56 pm (UTC)
I am in awe. Wow.
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From: geekmerc
2012-11-02 02:01 pm (UTC)
Children are naturally curious, willing to learn, and unafraid of making mistakes and learning from them.

Sadly, our school system is only designed to handle less than 25% of learning types. In general, our school system is designed to teach memorizing what you are told even if it is wrong, innovation and doing things your own way is wrong, and making mistakes is wrong (be afraid of making them). It breaks the spirit of many children who could be so much more. :(

You should check out unschooling. There are many different flavors, but it highlights one thing for sure... Children can't help but learn.

Edited at 2012-11-02 02:05 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: starshipcat
2012-11-02 05:07 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, this method of teaching is often perceived as the only one that will train children to successfully fit into the job market as adults, such that parents will actually object to a curriculum that emphasizes independent thinking and discovery, on the grounds that if they don't learn to do as they're told, they'll never be able to get and keep a job. And sadly, there is a lot of truth in it -- a lot of jobs are about mindlessly obeying your boss, and it's compounded by a lot of bosses who are in it for the ego-gratification and feel personally affronted, even threatened, by a subordinate who asks questions or otherwise is anything but mindlessly obedient.
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From: geekmerc
2012-11-02 05:25 pm (UTC)
This is why we should teach our children to be entrepreneurs. If a majority of our citizens were building businesses and making ideas come to life, we'd not only be more prosperous, but we'd welcome immigrants to work for us.

Still, there is a good portion of the population that needs structure and prefers someone else making the decisions for them. There will always be workers. What bothers me is that we are killing the creativity of the people who weren't made to be workers but should be visionaries instead.

I do agree that a lot of it is perception. For generations we have trained people to live in the Industrial Age. Now that we are in the Information Age, it is hard for people to change what they've always known. It is one reason I read fiction, especially sci-fi/fantasy. It keeps my mind from clinging to old perceptions by borrowing the imaginations of others.

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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-11-02 06:19 pm (UTC)
Actually...the world does not need 100% entrepreneurs. The world--every culture--continues to need people who do things needed to keep society going, and most of those things do not appeal to the entrepreneurial mind. Entrepreneurs make money. Other people make things, maintain things, care for people, make art. It's called the information age, but people still need actual food to eat, actual water to drink, actual devices on which to seek out and enjoy information. Virtual isn't enough. Making money isn't enough.

I'm not saying education should be focused on turning out people who serve the society and have only the skills of service, from flipping burgers to fixing plumbing to running the sewage treatment plant--but it should be focused on turning out people who WANT to contribute (not just take from) society and who have a variety of skills for doing so...so that in a changing situation (and it's always changing) they can shift from task to task within the general heading of "make things better for all."

I did look into unschooling, and some of my work with our son would have fallen into that category--but pure unschooling ignores the responsibility to contribute in some practical way every day. I agree that schools do not do anywhere near a perfect job...and yet, imperfect schools made an enormous difference in getting societies with near-universal literacy and higher education for some from the nasty, brutish, and short to the better-fed, better-housed, and healthier.
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From: geekmerc
2012-11-02 07:25 pm (UTC)
There are a lot of different aspects to unschooling and a lot of different opinions. However, it appears to gear around a simple premise. Respect and nurture a child; don't try and turn them into what you want them to be.

Of course the world can't be 100% entrepreneurs. Not everyone is designed for that life. Our school system is designed to produce 100% workers. Public school makes good factory workers and soldiers. Given the system it was based on, it's a smashing success. However, fails to meet the needs of today.

Public school produced the 99% protestors standing out there screaming about their student loans, poor job choices, and playing on their iphones/ipads. If every American did happen to have a gift for creating businesses, we still wouldn't be hurting. We'd hire the cheap labor from other countries to give us our hamburgers and pizza. But that wouldn't be the case. Just like most people don't fit the public school model; most people do not fit the entrepreneur model.

Honestly, you taught me to look at unschooling. If each of us is designed to be a certain way, then as a parent, I can only support my child in finding his path and following it. My son's path might scare me if it is not my path or filled with danger. It is the path he chooses, and he'll take it with or without my permission. He has my blessings to take the path, make mistakes, and know that I'm always here for him. I didn't want to be like Pak's father and let fear separate me from my child. I don't want to be a parent that successfully forces their child to fit a mold or follow a specific path.

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[User Picture]From: EClaireMcLean
2012-11-02 05:52 pm (UTC)
Children are a never ending source of wonder. Our job is to keep them from destroying themselves while they discover. Crossing street rules are important. Perfect formation of cursive capital letters, not so much.

Edited at 2012-11-02 05:54 pm (UTC)
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