Education and literacy statistics are staggering—or rather, the low levels of literacy and quality education around the world. One teacher in Mexico and an educational technology professor in India, among others, are experimenting with innovative ways to address these problems, since traditional fixes (money, more teachers, etc.) are not always available.
Many of ProLiteracy’s international programs use student-inspired programs, so the skills learned can be used immediately in the student’s daily life. Not only is this useful for the adult learners who often have little time to play catch up in their education, but it is similar to how humans learn, according to recent research.
According to this article, Sugata Mitra was chief scientist at a company in New Delhi, India, that trains software developers. His office was on the edge of a poor neighborhood, and on a hunch one day, he decided to put a computer into a nook in a wall separating his building from the neighborhood. He was curious to see what the kids would do, particularly if he said nothing. He powered the computer on and watched from a distance. To his surprise, the children quickly figured out how to use the machine.
For Mitra, this was the beginning of his work on an alternative educational philosophy that harnesses the power that the digital age can bring to education. “Access to a world of infinite information has changed how we communicate, process information, and think. Decentralized systems have proven to be more productive and agile than rigid, top-down ones. Innovation, creativity, and independent thinking are increasingly crucial to the global economy.”
Part of the natural way to learn is by experiment and by curiosity. Some teachers that have tried this approach have had remarkable success with their young students and there is no reason that this cannot be applied to adult education programs as well. “The bottom line is, if you’re not the one who’s controlling your learning, you’re not going to learn as well,” says lead researcher Joel Voss, now a neuroscientist at Northwestern University.
Maybe this philosophy is why ProLiteracy programs are so successful in areas around the world. Students, even adult students, who control their own learning can do better and learn more.
For more information on ProLiteracy and its programs, please visit our website at http://www.proliteracy.org/our-solutions/international.