Liz Fewings & Sugata Mitra

“My wish is to help design the future of learning by supporting children all over the world to tap into their innate sense of wonder and work together. Help me build the School in the Cloud, a learning lab in India, where children can embark on intellectual adventures by engaging and connecting with information and mentoring online. I also invite you, wherever you are, to create your own miniature child-driven learning environments and share your discoveries.”

This Year at TEDxEastEnd we will have an update from 2013 TEDPrize Winner Sugata Mitra on the progress of his wish as well as talk from Liz Fewings who is one of the Granny mentors for the School in the Cloud and who has been working on this project for the past 4 years.

Sugata Mitra

Educational researcher Dr. 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 and peer interest. In 1999, Mitra and his colleagues dug a hole in a wall bordering an urban slum in New Delhi, installed an Internet-connected PC, and left it there (with a hidden camera filming the area). What they saw was kids from the slum playing around with the computer and in the process learning how to use it and how to go online, and then teaching each other.

In the following years they replicated the experiment in other parts of India, urban and rural, with similar results, challenging some of the key assumptions of formal education. The "Hole in the Wall" project demonstrates that, even in the absence of any direct input from a teacher, an environment that stimulates curiosity can cause learning through self-instruction and peer-shared knowledge. Mitra, who's now a professor of educational technology at Newcastle University (UK), calls it "minimally invasive education." 

Liz Fewings 

Before retiring Liz was a primary school teacher and a trained Reading Recovery specialist. Since retiring Liz has seized the opportunity to volunteer for a variety of projects, including nature conservation and guerilla gardening.

Four years ago Liz saw an article about Sugata Mitra, 2013 TEDPrize winner, and his Granny mentoring project Since then Liz has been volunteering for the project and will be travelling to India at the end of 2013 to visit various schools and an original Hole in the Wall computer location. She also set up the Granny Facebook page so that the Grannies could chat informally, sharing triumphs and the inevitable disasters

Liz has always felt that what you teach children is less important than communicating enthusiasm and facilitating a desire to learn. She has a strong sense of community and is involved in several local projects, the latest being an exhibition exploring community at Hackney Museum. .

Liz is married with two children and has lived in Hackney for more than thirty years.

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