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Minimally Invasive Education

One of the words I have a dislike for in marketing is 'educate'. Often, it is used in the context of an objective where we merely need to 'educate' our target customers/clients/prospects/colleagues of the benefits of our brand/product/service/idea and the scales will simply fall from their eyes. The people who know, simply need to show the people who don't. In my experience though, change happens more convincingly and powerfully if the person is able to get there themselves, perhaps alongside others.

I was thinking about this as I watched this quite remarkable talk by Sugata Mitra, an education scientist who has conducted a highly unusual series of real-life experiments around the world to remarkable results. Over a decade ago he began by digging a hole in a wall that bordered an urban slum in New Delhi and installing an Internet-connected PC, which he left there. A hidden camera filmed as children started playing around with the computer, learning how to go online, and then began teaching each other how to use it.

Since then, the experiments into self-supervised access, self-teaching and peer-shared knowledge have become progressively more extraordinary, and had progressively more extraordinary results. It really is worth watching to the end. Too often I think, we work from the assumption that creating change or affecting behaviour requires direct input. Sugata's grand vision (expressed by his theory that "education is a self-organising system, where learning is an emergent phenomenon") takes a very different view. It's one that I think we can learn a lot from. Amazing.

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