Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community
Suggesting that Sugata Mitra’s main argument is that "Children learn without a teacher, or at least without a teacher-led instruction," Teemu Leinonen argues that "if we’ll take a closer look of his experiments the argument is oversimplified. In the experiments there is a teacher - an extraordinary teacher. That is professor Mitra himself." How so? "Mitra is giving students an assignment.... A professor asking students to study, giving them a new tools (computers) empowering them, giving them self-confidence and motivation. There is also a promise and actual implementation of assessment... children learn even better if they have a “granny figure” supporting them... a good teacher is a bit like a granny: supports students, is interesting in their work and praise them." It is, in other words, a bit like progressive inquiry learning, a method widely studied and used in Finland. Perhaps. But the inference is that since "A does x" and "B does x", then "A is B". This is a fallacious inference. Mitra may do some things in common with teachers, but it does not follow that he is a teacher, certainly not in the sense that most people would think of one.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Sept 25, 2021 1:48 p.m.