Published on Mar 19, 2013
Re-thinking learning and re-learning thinking
Nicholas Negroponte, Technology Visionary and Founder, One Laptop per Child
What if we have learning all wrong?
In this thoughtful, provocative keynote, Professor Negroponte explores the implications of the work of One Laptop per Child (OLPC), the non-profit association he founded in 2005. Distributing 2.5 million rugged laptops around the world and seeing how impoverished children use them has provoked Professor Negroponte into re-considering much that we take for granted about how children — and all of us –learn.
The industrialisation of schooling, he argues, has replaced our natural wonder of learning with an obsessive focus on facts. We treat knowing as a surrogate for learning, even though our experience tells us that it is quite possible to know about something while utterly failing to understand it.
And compounding this is instructionism’s fatally flawed belief that anything can be taught and that there is a perfect way to teach everything. If we have learned one thing from OLPC, it is that the human mind is too rich, complex and wonderful for that.
This lesson does not apply only to children, and it does not apply only to developing countries. Children can — and do — learn a great deal by themselves before they have their natural curiosity extinguished, too often by school. And those children grow into adults. So how would our education systems and our adult lives be better, if we focused a little less on measuring what we tell people and a little more on understanding how they discover?