Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Importance of Listening

S.E.E.D.S. takes an emergent lesson approach to curriculum development.  The curiosity of the learner is the required starting point.  For parents and teachers of very young children, the child’s limited language ability hampers effective communication.  In this sense, listening is not limited to the detection and processing of sounds and words.  The child’s behavior and actions are key sources of information for the care givers. 

Numerous studies show that children tend to learn best when they learn what interests them.  In other words, students learn what they want to learn.  Prof. Mitra’s “Hole in the Wall” computer experiments aptly demonstrate that learning can be a self-organizing process.  ( 

The traditional school system is a top down affair.  Grownups determine the curriculum and tests (often in written form), and the education system force feeds content to the students who are expected to regurgitate it on exams to demonstrate their mastery of the subjects.  This mass production industrial / manufacturing model of education is given way to other techniques.  Some use the title “student centered learning” and “collaborative learning” but none seem to truly result in the child driven learning shown by Prof. Mitra’s experiments.  One child who mastered the lessons early self-selected to teach back to others in her village.

Another of Prof. Mitra’s ideas integrated to his child driven education model was the “granny cloud”.  These were grandmothers in the UK who volunteers to chat with young learner worldwide in Prof. Mitra’s experiment.  This is S.E.E.D.S. Community-base Education on a global scale.  In another experiment Mitra recruited a local accountant to introduce the “granny effect” to local children.  Without knowing anything about the lesson, the “granny role” was simply to encourage the children with praise and to ask the children to “show me what you learned.”  These simple actions encouraged the youngsters to further they own studies. 

It was encouraging to see so many parallels between Prof. Mitra’s work and some of the S.E.E.D.S. methods.  The whole process of education (from Latin “ex” and “ducere”, literally to lead out) is a very natural human activity.  Babies come into the world lacking the native language of their parents.  Yet driven by their innate curiosity, they explore, play, and learn about their world physically, emotionally, socially, and eventually economically as well.  If parents and teachers learn what the children are interested in learning, the benefit to the children will be astronomical. 

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