Education theorist, Sugata Mitra, placed a freely accessible computer in hole in a wall in a Delhi slum, and just left it there, to see what would happen.
He found that it attracted a number of children, who proceeded to use it, teaching themselves to surf the internet, despite not knowing what a computer or the internet were, or being able to read. With no prior experience, the children learned to use the computer on their own, and taught themselves the skills they needed to do the things they wanted to do.
Mitra hypothesised that with access to resources, entertaining and motivating content and minimal human guidance, young people can educate themselves. He developed a basic theory of learning, hypothesising that children need two things to learn effectively:
1) They need to be allowed to crowd around computers which are connected to the internet
2) They need the absence of a teacher.
Minimally Invasive Education (MIE) holds that there are many ways to learn without the intervention of a teacher being an imperative; learning is a process you do, not a process that is done to you. Young people learn by interacting in ways that they choose with the resources around them, with no child ever being forced, urged, or bribed into learning.
Intrinsic motivation occurs when students are engaged because of internal rewards, and develop a love of learning through their own needs to pursue their own interests in their own choice of subjects. Young people learn to value learning for learning’s sake; regardless of any external factors, it is meaningful to them.
Children who enjoy personal freedom, and who exercise personal responsibility for their actions, learn at their own chosen pace, rather than following a chronologically-based, standardised, homogenised curriculum. The teacher’s role is to create and maintain a safe learning environment, which promotes young people’s wellbeing, and gives them time and space to explore and discover.
Teachers become resources, there to answer questions and to offer specific skills or knowledge when asked to by students. It’s not that we don’t need teachers any more; we just need teachers who are role-models, mentors and supporters rather than administrators, instructors and enforcers.