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International school students have “unrealistic view of the world” October 18, 2010

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in International education, New releases.
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Another fine edition of the International Schools Journal hit the John Catt Educational desks this morning, Volume XXX No.1 fresh back from the printers.

Editor Dr Caroline Ellwood has put together another fine issue, including research and articles written by Sugata Mitra (Method ELSE: Emergent Learning Systems in Education), detailing some of the ideas in his keynote address to the ECIS Administrators’ Conference in Malta, April 2010.

Here, Sugatra describes his pioneering work with the ‘Hole in the Wall’ experiments with children and the internet, first implemented in India in 1999. The experiment involved a computer with an internet connection being embedded into a wall, for children to discover and use unsupervised. The wall adjoined a slum, and only a month later it was evident that the children had taught themselves to use the computer and also picked picked up some skills in English and mathematics.

Sugatra also gives a very practical description of how a school could work with SOLE (Self Organised Learning Environment), pointing out that in the hands of good teachers, the methods explored with poor Indian children can be very powerful motivators for any children and result in better performance.

Chandran Nair also expands on his own address at the ECIS Conference in Malta in his article Transforming Elite Education for the 21st century, in which he presents a quite critical picture of what he calls “elitist schools”, arguing that international school students are particularly vulnerable to an unrealistic view of the world.

He sees the students in international schools as growing up:

“…in a world removed from the threat of arsenic-laced water, endemic malaria and subsistence farming, situations that form a daily reality for hundreds of millions of people across the world. The solution is not to reduce richer students to poverty, but to make them aware that their view of the world is inevitably coloured by their wealth, just as those less fortunate than them are inevitably biased by their poverty. Far too often students graduate with too little humility, not simply because they overestimate their own abilities, but because they have no sense of how the local history, geography and culture have all come together to shape the persons that they are. The incredible statistical good fortune that they have been bless with even to attend a school is lost on them, and so are the responsibilities they have to those who are not so lucky.”

For more than 20 years the International Schools Journal has been a unique source of articles concerning virtually every aspect of international education. It is published twice a year, in November and April, in conjunction with ECIS and CIS. A one-year subscription costs just £10. Click here to find out more.

Contact CarolineEllwood@ecis.org to discuss editorial ideas for future issues.

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