Minimally invasive education

Published by Lori Pickert on October 20, 2008 at 04:02 PM

Ted Talk: Sugata Mitra shows how kids teach themselves

Stick with it (or fast forward) until somewhere around minute 7 when he begins speaking about the Hole-in-the-Wall project — kids teaching themselves. Incredibly inspirational.

Sugata Mitra: Catalyst of Curiosity (Edutopia)

The “Hole in the Wall” project on Frontline

“Hole in the Wall” documentary

Official Hole-in-the-Wall site



Comment by Angela on October 21, 2008 at 04:43 AM

Wow. Very moving.

Comment by Deirdre on October 21, 2008 at 11:05 PM

I have two questions for you, Lori, though maybe they belong in the forum area??

1. How do you deal with "unfinished" projects? I put it in quotes because I am okay with walking away from things when their interests turn elsewhere, but I'm frustrated with materials being half-used...or started and then left. Maybe I just need to work on being less results oriented, but I really don't think that's what's going on. I love how you stress that kids use every bit of the paper---I wish I had done that from the beginning. My son LOVES bare books, and I try to steer him to homemade paper books until he is ready to commit to finishing a book but we have several started books that have only a few pages with anything on them.


2. Is there any topic/skill that you were/are insistent on your children learning or is it all child-led? For example, you must have done some of the leading on their basic math, I assume, or am I wrong and they just learn it if and when they decide to?

Trying to feel my way here. Thanks for any feedback.

Comment by Lori Pickert on October 22, 2008 at 12:12 AM

hi deirdre! :^D

this *would* be a good topic for the forum .. maybe i can answer you here and then we can move it over there to keep discussing?

re: unfinished projects .. i think i actually blogged about this before .. here it is!

now that is more about works in progress, but does touch on abandoned pieces of work. ;^)

one way to encourage children to go back to a piece of work to finish it is to simply remind them (nicely) -- and stay on top of their requests (say, they need you to set up for them to paint it, or they need more wood glue...). always ask to see what they've done, ask them about it, have them tell you their plans. encourage them to show it to others -- family members, friends. this keeps them invested in what they're doing. then in the morning (or at the beginning of project time .. depending on how the rest of your hs'ing or unschooling looks) you can say "you said you wanted to work on X today..." or "i have that paint you asked for..."

sometimes all it takes is a question or a reminder to get them excited about working on something again.

if they really are just done (even if it's not done), then if it's a construction i take it apart and put still-usable pieces back into circulation. if it's paper, i might cut it up for collage work. we upcycle as much as possible.

if he is using spiral-bound sketchbooks as bare books, then i would tear the pages out and have him bind them separately (like a homemade book) -- then keep the sketchbook to try again. it's best to involve them in this decision-making process, of course. ;^) it's amazing how fast something goes from "eh" to "I LOVE THIS MORE THAN ANYTHING IN THE UNIVERSE" as it hovers over the recycle bin.

okay, i will now move this conversation to the project-based learning forum and we can keep talking there!

re: my own learning style, i'm on the unschooling end of the spectrum but we teach math separately. my husband is an engineer, so math fluency is nonnegotiable. ;^)

in my private school, we had a reggio-inspired, project-based curriculum and whatever state learning standards weren't covered by the project were taught separately.

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