Mitra’s experiments were new to me, but after listening to him speak I am profoundly effected. My initial responses included amazement, disbelief, shock, awe, doubt, curiosity, and even fear. Mitra’s main point in wrapping up both videos is that current education is obsolete. He very effectively explains the old use for education in the empire age, where individuals needed to learn the same things across the world to survive-including reading, writing, and simple math. While we still need to read, we mostly read in a different way-on screens. Now, we have computers to write for us. We have calculators on every smart device we own to do math. So why do we need to learn these things in school? Should schools be revolutionized to be different? In the Huffington Post, Mitra says that, “we need schools, not factories.”
The implications for modern classrooms as a result of Mitra’s experiments are huge. He brings up strong points throughout both videos-our world is changing, and education should be changing as a result of that. He quotes that, “children will learn to do what they want to do.” This is a concept rarely seen in classrooms today. We have the common core, a set of standards that dictate what is to be learned throughout the year. It is up to teachers to be creative and inspiring in presenting this information. It is hard to motivate children sometimes, and Mitra has a simple solution: let the children motivate themselves by choosing the content. In his hole in the wall experiment, no one told the children to teach themselves to use the computers. They did it without asking, because they were interested in figuring it out. The children in India where he put the computer did not speak English, had never seen a computer, and did not know what the internet was. Yet, they found a way to master it. Before hearing his research, I would have hypothesized that the children would never figure out how to use it.
Children are so underestimated in the modern school system, and teachers/adults think that they have to be coddled, forced, convinced, and dragged along the school system in order to gain even the smallest big of knowledge, when they do not even (most of the time) want to be at school. He calls future schools/education to become “self organizing systems (that) start to do things they were never designed to do”. This way, children will want to learn and want to be at school.
Mitra asks the “devastating question”-do we not need schools? My answer to that question is still yes, we need schools. However, perhaps the kind of school that we are used to is “obsolete” as he calls it, or outdated. And he is not the only person to have the idea of obsolete American education. Maybe there are serious updates that need to happen, and after listening to Mitra tangibly in my future classroom, the children will teach each other more and choose their learning material more. However, the idea of a place without schools as we know it today scares me. School teaches more than information- it teaches discipline, social skills, responsibility, caring, how to think for yourself, how to work in a group, and so much more. It scares me to think of not being able to think about something myself, because I have learned to just look something up when I need to know it. What else would we think about, what else would matter if the only valuable thing in our life was a tablet or phone or computer? I love books, and I grew up reading them and treasuring them and looking forward to diving into a new one. What if books disappeared and we only had the internet? In my opinion, that would be a sad world. In my future classroom, while technology is vital, books will never be replaced.
We must change the classrooms of today, if we want to reach the “school in the cloud” that Mitra dreams of designing. As a future teacher, I have been impacted greatly by his research. I now understand the power of children choosing their interests. I understand that children have more knowledge and power to learn than I give them credit for. I understand that children need to work together and teach each other.