Tuesday, March 7, 2017

SOLE and Motivation

I believe in SOLE, Self Organized Learning Environments. I have believed in it from the moment I heard Sugata MItra speak about it and doubly after reading his handbook. I had always felt that students were being under learning by my teaching in a traditional way. I had always believed that students were capable of learning without school. After all they had been doing precisely that all their lives.

One of the things that made SOLE come alive was the fact that they were learning about what interested them. They saw this knowledge as beneficial as they were able to transfer their learning directly to their lives. It challenged their thought processes and through discussion with their peers it allowed them to open their eyes to a larger world of thought. One which they could accept, reject, expand on , or modify to fit their needs. This social aspect was the key to their growth. Even students who traditionally had done poorly in school and barely participated in discussions were exhibiting leadership skills and participating strongly in discussions. Their opinions and feelings were of a surprise to their peers who had never seen them in this light before.

However the largest impact came when the students were motivated to explore topics such as homelessness. They felt a keen connection to it as they saw homeless people everyday. They quickly researched and developed a plan to help homeless people by raising money through the sale of Yonana ice cream at the school. This brought them together as they felt like they were contributing to their community. While they weren’t solving the problem they realized that the money raised could be given to a group which fed homeless people. Their success raised the awareness of tis issue in the community and had parents on board applauding their efforts. The students felt connected in a powerful way.

While outcomes like this can be developed outside the classroom I believe that SOLE made this possible. Through collaborative research, descriptive presentations and constructive discussion, the students learned lessons far more valuable than deciphering meaning in a text book. Through SOLE we built a community of learners and motivated, caring human beings.  

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