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Initial Behind-Closed-Door Discussions Intense, Deeply Personal

Monday, September 30, 2013

By Tim Lougheed, Learning 2030 In-Camera Blogger

Image © WGSI/Michael Bennett

"I see more innovation in the slums of Calcutta than in the best schools of Beverly Hills,” said a participant during this first Learning 2030 session in the inner sanctum of the Equinox Summit’s in-camera discussions.

“I wanted to come here because this is not just another group of experts talking shop but trying to create something practical and implementable at the end,” said another participant. “The thing that will make this event different will be if that something comes from the young people themselves, rather than from eggheads like me.”

Learning at all costs

So far, summit participants have been sharing a wide array of personal experiences, including ones about some of the educational experiments  for example, where young people have been placed into innovative learning environments after emerging from unthinkable horrors.

With the help of computer technology – which were mastered in short order – students were able to define a new path for themselves, eventually convincing conventional educational authorities to overlook their lack of standard qualifications and allow them to enter high school, and later, university.

It might sound like a ghastly experiment conducted on vulnerable human beings in the developing world, but one of the people responsible for this work insisted that it is showing educators in the developed world the error of their ways.

Radical change, but can there be too much?

Similar examples from the world’s slums are reinforcing the idea that the goal of education is not simply to provide paper documents that allow you to pursue even more education, but instead to allow young minds – even those beset by the most dreadful circumstances imaginable – to flourish.

For this reason, summit participants contend, the designers of educational technology in high-end markets like California are starting to take their cues from places like Calcutta, where schools are embracing more adaptable and effective applications of these products.

That argument does not necessarily sit well with some observers, who are insisting that this is more Western imperialism arriving in the form of devices such as tablet computers.

These critics are calling for more of an emphasis on good old-fashioned pedagogy, stepping away from any lead defined by the latest classroom technology.