[IAEP] NN, Mitra, and the role of the teacher

Thomas Gilliard satellit at attglobal.net
Tue Oct 26 15:48:50 EDT 2010

James Simmons wrote:
> Caryl,
> This is an interesting question.  I have a niece (friend of the family
> sense, not a blood relation) who went to the Illinois Math and Science
> Academy.  This is actually a public boarding school for very bright
> students.  They have no textbooks, probably no School Board, and from
> what I heard from her father the students are pretty much expected to
> teach themselves.  ("The teachers don't teach!" is something he kept
> telling me).
> On the political side, a significant number of Americans believe that
> everything is the teacher's fault, or the teacher's union, or the fact
> that they are allowed to have a union, or the fact that the teachers
> have no economic incentive to be better than other teachers.
> I find it refreshing that Constructivism focuses more on the students
> than on the teachers.  I don't think Negroponte was saying that
> students don't need teachers.  What I heard was that they don't need
> the kind of superstar teachers that the politicians think the miracle
> of the free market will create.  He was saying that even if your
> teacher is illiterate you can still learn.
> This corresponds to my own experience.  I've had teachers I loved and
> some I hated, some that were more effective than others, but
> ultimately it came down to me.  In college I learned to program
> computers from some of the least effective teachers I ever had.  They
> were all competent computer programmers, but they couldn't teach worth
> a damn.  I still got a good education.  I did it by reading books and
> trial and error.  Somewhere along the line I must have had teachers
> who encouraged me to learn on my own, but they weren't all like that.
> I do have a great respect for teachers and if I ever ran into my old
> teachers I'd apologize to half of them for wasting so much of their
> time.
> James Simmons
My personal experiences in high school; college and grad school were 
influenced by 2 "teachers" and many "instructors".

The "teachers" transmitted their enthusiasm for learning rather than the 
material we covered (most of the material I learned has long since lost 
it's relevance)

Their exuberant spirit persists in me.

I agree that most of what we learn and retain from education is knowing 
how to ASK questions and find answers, (mainly learning how to ask 
questions) and not accept commonly held ideas without testing them.

A majority of the people who I encountered in school were "instructors" 
who just went through the process of leading classes.

Tom Gilliard

> On Tue, Oct 26, 2010 at 12:12 PM, Caryl Bigenho <cbigenho at hotmail.com> wrote:
>> HI All...
>> I watched Negroponte on the Colbert show last night.  Nice.  He seems to
>> have toned down his former "we don't need teachers... kids will do it all"
>> line a bit, but it is still implied.
>> Sugata Mitra implies the same in his TED talk:
>> http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_shows_how_kids_teach_themselves.html
>> But, I argue that  teachers are still very much needed as orchestrators and
>> conductors of this learning.  In Mitra's project he served as the master
>> orchestrator by providing the content and asking the children questions that
>> will lead to learning by discovery.  The "grannie cloud" in his project was
>> the conductor, encouraging and cheering on the students as they worked their
>> way through the learning experience.
>> On Saturday I  followed a bit of the irc chat from Room 555 on Saturday
>> which discussed children  being chosen as "experts" to help the others
>> learn. Irc was not being friendly so I had to give up, but again, the
>> teacher was the orchestrator... and conductor. Planning the lesson with the
>> right questions and choosing the players and conducting the learning
>> experience.
>> Of course, many excellent teachers already know and practice this approach
>> to teaching.  They are most often found in "hands on" type classes like  the
>> arts, lab sciences and production classes. Now we need to ask, how do we
>> (and should we) prepare all teachers to teach in this untraditional manner,
>> which really good teachers have always done?
>> Should OLPC or Sugar Labs consider developing and disseminating, this
>> teaching style, and a curriculum for training teachers?
>> How would we disseminate it? Evaluate it? Advertise it? Etc?
>> Let's have a discussion!
>> Caryl (aka "GrannieB" and Carolina)
>> _______________________________________________
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>> IAEP at lists.sugarlabs.org
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