[-Austin-] Read two fascinating things
[-Austin-] Read two fascinating things yesterday that pertain to how children learn. First one is an experiment done by Sugata Mitra, an Indian physicist:
To test his ideas, Mitra 13 months ago launched something he calls "the hole in the wall experiment." He took a PC connected to a high-speed data connection and imbedded it in a concrete wall...in the south end of New Delhi. The wall separates the company's grounds from a garbage-strewn empty lot used by the poor as a public bathroom. Mitra simply left the computer on, connected to the Internet, and allowed any passerby to play with it. He monitored activity on the PC using a remote computer and a video camera mounted in a nearby tree.
What he discovered was that the most avid users of the machine were ghetto kids aged 6 to 12, most of whom have only the most rudimentary education and little knowledge of English. Yet within days, the kids had taught themselves to draw on the computer and to browse the Net. Some of the other things they learned, Mitra says, astonished him.
The second is a chapter in The Tipping Point, which is an absolutely fascinating book that I couldn't put down on the segment from Chicago to Austin. "The Tipping Point" is a phrase Gladwell uses to describe why change occurs as as drastically and unexpectedly as it does. The whole book is fantastic but the chapter that was really cool describes the R&D the producers of Sesame Street and Blue's Clues did to determine whether children liked their shows and why. The book also examines STD epidemics, crime in NYC, and reasons why Paul Revere's ride was successful at rousing people to fight the British. One of the most interesting and engrossing books I have read in a long time.