On a Ted Talk on NPR, Sugata Mitra, a professor of educational technology at Newcastle University, believes in the title of this post. He hopes to build a School in the Clouds. Warning: the cloud reference refers not to H2O density but rather electronic waves through the atmosphere. From the Internet.
Professor Mitra detailed the history of the classroom tracing it back 300 years to Victorian England. There and at that time, bureaucrats ( his reference) decided that in order to operate factories efficiently, there was a need for human robots (my term) who could plug into any job anywhere in the British Empire.
Reading, handwriting and simple arithmetic were required along with discipline: following directions in an orderly way. That’s it. And so here we are, 300 years later, teaching pretty much the same stuff to a new generation who will most probably never set foot in a factory.
I recall a high school history class during which we were forced to memorize the kings of England in succession. Why? Jeopardy? I recall being punished in grade school by having to work out long division problems with divisors in the thousands. Apparetly she hated math and wanted us to as well. When did I last need to divide on paper!
His school in the clouds idea- computer assisted education- makes perfect sense for today’s tech- savvy kids. However, it will be years down the road because adults, especially the +60 people will yell and scream! How can ‘education’ be like that! Who ever heard of THAT! Why, in my day…
No, rather than moving to an entirely new paradigm in education, we will continue on for decades in the factory school tradition from Victorian England.