In this keynote from Sugata Mitra, he discusses his ‘Hole in the Wall’ project. Mitra took note of the absence of schooling and talented teachers in despondent regions. In response, he set up a series of computers in the slums of New Delhi. The devices were all connected to the Internet, and within under two weeks, the children became accustomed to the technology, browsing the web and exploring topics that piqued their interest.
The Hole in the Wall project is groundbreaking in that it demonstrates how much children can learn without instruction. The young slum dwellers did not explore the computers with the help of a supervisor, but rather surfed the net in accordance with personal likes and dislikes. The same tests were replicated in South Africa and Italy, time and time again illustrating the power of initiative and self-interest.
Mitra believes that impoverished neighborhoods can replace a lack of formal education with stimulating tech tools, provoking self-edification via curiosity. The breakthroughs that these children had in the subjects of language, mathematics and music suggests that he is indeed on to a critical shift in the realm of pedagogy.