Education scientist Sugata Mitra tackles one of the greatest problems of education — the best teachers and schools don’t exist where they’re needed most. In a series of real-life experiments from New Delhi to South Africa to Italy, he gave kids self-supervised access to the web and saw results that could revolutionize how we think about teaching.
About Sugata Mitra
Sugata Mitra’s “Hole in the Wall” experiments have shown that, in the absence of supervision or formal teaching, children can teach themselves and each other, if they’re motivated by curiosity… Full bio and more links
Phi Beta Iota: Harrison Owen recommended this. He has spent his life nurturing self-organizing systems. This is one of the most moving, impactful ideas and presentations we have seen in our lifetime. This is one of the keys.
I generally throw unsolicited books right into the post office’s paper waste bin (hint to publishers: ASK first), but this one was close enough to my interests and offers a favorable first impression, so I held on to it and finally read it today.
It is a series of vignettes, one third context, one third financing, and one third nuggets, and for the nuggets alone (many summarized below) it is assuredly worthy of purchase and reflection.
As a long-time fan of Peter Drucker’s, and especially his focus on work as a calling and capitalism as doing well financially by doing good for the customer, I have an early note, “in the Drucker tradition.” That is *very* high praise.
My flyleaf notes:
+ In author’s words that resonate with me, “captures tribal knowledge.”
+ Bootstrapping avoids VC micro-management and allows patience
+ Ego objections from earlier generations of engineers are common.
+ Chinese push hundreds of PhD students into any strategic technology area of interest to the government, fiber optics was one
+ Self-manufacture protects intellectual property
+ Malaysia costs for clean rooms, skilled labor, etc one tenth of costs in Silicon Valley or California generally
+ “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” I loved this. I am both a strategists and a cultural creative, and it drives me bonkers to see our government so stupid on both fronts (and most corporations as well)
+ Bright kids without degrees can be rapidly trained to do specified engineering tasks at much lower costs with much higher consistency than college and advanced degree graduates.
+ In examining a company, compare marketing versus engineering investment (dollars, number of people) for a read on the core values
+ Web 3.0 is here now, leveraging bots in context to tailor delivery
+ Google does have vulnerabilities and vertical search is one of them.
+ Old media (e.g. Washington Post) not leveraging Internet and not leveraging their legacy human networks.
+ Enterprise computing has been displaced by extended enterprise and cloud computing. Microsoft Office in a virtual nosedive (finally!)
+ Security and distributed collaborative networks are totally entwined (or should be).
+ Sucking chest wound for progress right now, world-wide and especially in Third World, is absence of ubiquitous broadband access.
+ Latin America is ready to become the next India (especially Brazil, Argentina, Chile).
+ Planet-scale solutions are emerging–am blown away by Energy Recovery PX that has dropped cost of desalinating a cubic meter of water from $10 to $0.46.
+ Being there personally (Malaysia, India, wherever) is vastly superior to remote contact via telephone, video, etcetera.
+ New stuff such as solar lighting can leverage existing rural area capabilities such as electricians servicing the small middle class, who can extend solar lighting units into the lower class households.
+ HUGE HUGE HUGE: Obopay and a calling card rather than the cell phone may be the next big leap for the five billion poor. Although I still believe in free low-cost cell phones as the national bootstrap method, this one hit me with the force of a 2 x 4 wood stud wielded by a seriously pissed-off gorilla.
+ Every company in here is interesting, but Indded.com, SimplyHired, HotChalk, MercadoLibre, and PX as well as Obopay were for me truly worthy introductions.
On a personal note, the financial crash cost me the sale of my for-profit as well as my flagship contract, and SimplyHired in one hour was better for me in job hunting than all the other sites including LinkedIn. Still seeking global-impact employment, personal details at OSS.Net, non-profit details at Earth Intelligence Network.
This is one of those rare books that inspire me to suggest to Amazon that a future alert feature is needed, I am interested in anything this author puts together in the future.
I will end with some other books I recommend (I have summary reviews for all of them, but Amazon buries my reviews now because of the 20% negatives that come with controversial non-fiction books–you have to select me as an “Interesting Person” first, then my reviews “pop up”. See the comment for a URL to an annotated bibliography with direct links to my reviews of over 500 non-fiction books pertinent to our shared future.