Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Child-Driven Education: A Truly Exciting Reinvention of Education

"A teacher that can be replaced with a machine should be." Sir Arthur C. Clarke, futurist and author of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I have long called for what I call "Dream-Team Taught Courses:" a recorded course taught by a team of world-class teachers, available for download. A local parent or teacher would be on site to provide the human touch. That way, all students, rich and poor, urban and rural, can receive world-class instruction, for example, in difficult-to-teach subjects such as algebra. No surprise, the all-powerful teachers unions have squashed such ideas.

I just learned of a very different and even more radical yet very promising idea for reinventing education: a teacherless-classroom: A group of kids sit in a room with computers. They, with Google's help, teach themselves, based on simple prompts, for example, "Who is Pythagoras and what did he do?" Untrained grandmother-types are available via skype to encourage the kids, ask a few questions, etc. The results have been very promising. And the kids love it.

Of course, child-centered education has been around forever. It hadsearly roots in John Dewey and later, in the 1960s' Open Education movement, for example, Summerhill in the '60s. But the availability of the Internet, especially Google, makes it more likely that this iteration of child-driven education will be more successful.

Of course, much research is still needed to see how this might be optimally used and its limits, but for one of those rare times, I am excited about the potential of an education intervention. It's called Child-Driven Education and was presented in this TED talk:

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