I strive to make my classroom a place where children learn best. I spend a lot of time focusing on the environment and making it one of learning. Much of my curriculum planning is all about creating interest centers that push the thinking of the children.
On any given day you may come into my room and find a table lifted on one side, paper taped to it and a tub under the lower end so children can drip drop paint. With glee they watch the liquid watercolors stream down the table. My science table is over grown with vegetables and weeds we have “rescued” such as sweet potatoes, carrot ends, and dandelions. The classroom computer has a sign up sheet and a ten minute hourglass timer, there is usually a crowed of children around the computer as well.
My main goal as a teacher is to become unnecessary, at least as far as imparting knowledge. I arrange the environment for optimal learning; this includes the emotional environment as well. In the first months of school I spend most of my time teaching the children collaborative skills, how to ask for what they want or need, and I do a lot of modeling these skills. We do activities that increase collaboration in group and all the children must learn how to play together, I am often saying, “can you find a way for everyone to play in this game?” or “it looks like Joey has an idea of how to use this material, lets listen to him.”
This video shows how Sugata Mitra found a way for children in rural India to learn without any teachers. Are teachers necessary? I tend to agree with Sugata when he shares what Author C. Clarke says, “If a teacher can be replaced by a machine, they should be.” This Hole in the Wall Experiment showed that when good teachers are not available it might be better to allow children to learn on their own. In this 21 minute video Sugata shows how his experiment worked and worked wonders in areas where teachers were not available or were not effective. Please take the time to watch this, as it is informative and entertaining to watch. I have also included a link to a more refined video of Sugata Mitra at the TED Talks.
Sugata Mitra: Can kids teach themselves?