We imagine the Storymoja Hay Festival as a celebration of great, new, ambitious, audacious and inspiring ideas manifested in literature, art, theatre, technology, politics, education, social activism, environment, and pretty much every field that affects our lives . This is why the theme of this Year’s Festival is “Imagine the World / Waza Dunia”.
As we prepare for the festival, we have decided to run a bit of an experiment. We want to see what would happen if we put several great minds in one room and allow them to provoke and then run wild with new ideas.
As an example, we borrowed a ‘provocation’ from Educationist and TEDx Speaker Sugata Mitra.
In 1999, Sugata Mitra had a provocative thought:
“In nine months, a group of children left alone with a computer in any language will reach the same standard as an office secretary in the West.”
To challenge this thought, 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.
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’s idea topples our [Kenyan] concept of education right over. With the one laptop per child, does it really matter then if teachers don’t even know how to switch theirs on? What is more essential then for kids to have access to… teachers or the internet?
It is definitely a provocative thought to explore.
Our first ever Ideagasm was on 23rd June 2013.
Here are snapshots of what came out during the Hole-in-the-Wall conversations.
Interesting that people knew each other from online presence but some had never met.
Introductions – all readers, some writers, some bloggers.
Aleya introduces Storymoja Hay Festival – books, ideas, power to transform the way we think, the way we live. Conversations, talks etc. Provoking different ways of thinking.
Sugata Mitra – children are able to learn, self organize, create a social system.
Intuitive writing: What is more essential then for kids to have access to… teachers or the internet?
Wanjeri – teaching system doesn’t allow for creative thinking.
Nduta – empower teachers to use internet as a way to disseminate information and as a teaching tool. Teacher vs internet an unnecessary power play. Combine both.
Aleya – could they fall into bad information holes and what would happen if they did.
Fred – Is exposure to porn bad? Can kids learn choice if they find information that is ‘ beyond their range’?
Alexander – curating. Development stages.
Michael – Are adults imposing a cap on the amount of information children can absorb? School that allows children to explore information within a controlled environment. Higher performance.
Fred – Conditioning
Aleya – knowledge is obsolete. How do we find information? Do schools take curiosity out of children?
Harleen – does internet availability limit critical thinking and increase dependability?
Biko – Children need instruction. Don’t give children too much credit. They still need professional and moral guidance.
Michael – Find a way to instill curiosity. Not herd thought.
Aleya – is the process more important than the end product.
Nduta – curioception – curiosity makes you stumble onto new information. Must know when to stop.
Michael – Do we condition kids to stop being curious?
Alexander- got into trouble at work because of asking ‘Why?’
Fred – human perceptions, misconceptions, choice, preference…
Keguro – Structure. Access. Structured forms of thinking. Relationship between structures (teaching. internet access). Practically – people have to learn how to function in society. Ethics. Society needs idiosyncracy, but it also needs structured thinkers. Learn from success as well as failure.
Harleen – Teacher necessary to instill human values.
Alexander – Information can also create problems. (hypochondriac) Human touch different from availability.
Martin Maitha – Some teachers don’t even teach kids what is part of the syllabus, but expect students to teach themselves (read)
Samuel Mbugua – Uses both structured teaching and the internet to educate his kids. Children set their own goals.
Alexander – if I was to set my own goals, wouldn’t I chose to move away from things I do not like to do but that might be necessary?
Samuel Mbugua – Mastery of the fundamentals. All inclusive pedagogy.
Fred – Assumptions
Keguro – Internet is not abstract. Someone somewhere reads what we write and post online and takes it as information. Where is the line between online interaction and face to face interaction?
Wanjeri – essence of talking while sharing space.
Alexander – communicate verbally and non-verbally while to face to face. Expectations in online interaction are different than in face to face interaction. Appearances also matter?
Michael – saw. Said. No obligation to be polite, honest – online interaction.
Aleya – prejudice might be easier to happen in face to face interactions.
Nduta – content posted online also reveals who you are.