Teacher journal archive (2008-2011)

Article Title

Slumdog learning


It is now 10 years since Professor Sugata Mitra instigated his hole-in-the-wall technology learning experiment in a New Delhi slum. The experiment captured the world's attention and challenged many long-held beliefs about the processes of learning. It also inspired a novel by Vikas Swarup, 'Q & A', which was recently turned into a film, 'Slumdog Millionaire'. This article outlines the background and development of Professor Mitra's experiment, in which he set up a tamper-proof computer in a kiosk in a slum area. Illiterate children with no prior experience with computers began to teach themselves how to use this tool. The experiment has significant ramifications for every teacher. There is no doubt that many Australian students are underperforming but too many well-intentioned programs to redress underperformance are controlled by teachers, which result in 'highly invasive education' and are ineffective because they do not provide the appropriate learning environment. If Mitra's illiterate children, given the appropriate learning environment, can teach themselves computer skills, what might be possible in the Australian classroom if students were given more freedom to learn and the right to take more control of their own learning? [Author abstract, ed]

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