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

K. K. Subramaniam kksubbu.ml at gmail.com
Sun Oct 31 23:23:51 EDT 2010

On Sunday 31 Oct 2010 9:25:30 am Caryl Bigenho wrote:
> Actually, Mitra's "Grannies" may not be actual grand parents and they do
> have a curriculum.
True. A Grannie need not necessarily be a grand parent of the learner but a 
curriculum-driven learning is very limiting, esp. in India with its extreme 
social diversity. Sugata's high tech props distracts us from seeing the 
facilitative aspects found in the environment. "Grannies" do three things that 
facilitates the learning process. Firstly, they are there during learning[1], 
Secondly, when a child completes a task, they celebrate the culmination of the 
process regardless of the economic value of the outcome. Thirdly, they guide 
the child to select the next process that is *meaningful* to both the child 
and the *social context*. Such appreciation and mentoring are invaluable in 
helping children learn faster and better.

A centrally planned curriculum applies a linear model of learning over a large 
number of children in different social contexts. It assumes that there is only 
one way for the next level. In practice, a child is faced with lots of choices 
on what to pursue next.

Notice the slip in TED teaser's last statement - "results that could 
revolutionize how we think about teaching". We have a hard time treating 
education as a learning process.

[1] In Sikshana, our school intervention project, the physical presence of an 
friendly adult in the classroom turned out to be the most important motivator 
for learners. One such "Grannie" volunteer was a young village girl in her 
twenties who was so impressed with this transformation that she joined our 
project and is now replicating the model across a cluster of 15 schools.


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