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Sugata Mitra Receives 2011 Klingenstein Award
TC's Klingenstein Center for Independent School Education has presented its annual Klingenstein Leadership Award to Sugata Mitra, originator of the "Hole in the Wall" experiment, a computer project that has increased learning among children in some of the world's poorest slums.
Mitra is the originator of the “Hole in the Wall” experiment, a computer project that has increased learning among children in some of the world’s poorest slums.
The project began in 1999, when Mitra and colleagues installed a computer in a playground wall in Delhi, India, and left it there. Eight hours later, neighborhood children, who had never seen a computer before and had no knowledge of the Worldwide Web, were surfing the Net.
Over the ensuing decade, Mitra introduced the same methodology, which he calls minimally invasive education, across India, Cambodia and other poor regions with similar results. Children with little or no formal schooling taught themselves to speak English, mastered fundamental biotechnology concepts, explored central tenets of Hinduism and advanced theories about why dinosaurs became extinct.
Mitra's efforts served as the inspiration for the book that went on to become the Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire.
More recently the International Finance Corporation ( a division of the World Bank) and NIIT, have joined forces to create , Hole in the Wall Education Ltd (HiWEL).
To view talks by Mitra about the Hole in the Wall work, visit http://www.ted.com/speakers/sugata_mitra.html.
Mitra is also an inventor who has made groundbreaking discoveries in a range of fields, including Alzheimer’s disease, desktop publishing, human sensory function and energy storage.
In presenting him with the award, Pearl Rock Kane, the Klingenstein Center’s director called Mitra “an inventor, researcher, polymath, philosopher, humanitarian and catalyst for education reform,” and quoted colleagues who have described him as both “a jovial Einstein” and “an education anarchist.”
“You have been celebrated for inventions and discoveries in areas as diverse as energy storage, human sense organs, desktop publishing and Alzheimer’s disease – and of course, most of all, your inspiring Hole in the Wall experiment, which shows how the Internet can unleash the capacity of children to teach themselves,” Kane told Mitra. “But I’ve learned that the real genius of how you work – the common thread that links all of these endeavors and makes them possible – is the attitude with which you approach life.
Indeed, when I asked for advice to give Klingenstein graduate students you paused, and then offered, ‘Tell them not to take themselves too seriously.’ One’s work, yes – but one’s self, never.”
Past recipients of the Klingenstein Award include entertainment mogul and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey; Harvard professor Howard Gardner, known for his work on “multiple intelligences”; New Yorker writer and author Malcolm Gladwell; organization guru Jim Collins; and psychologist Carol Dweck.
Published Wednesday, Mar. 2, 2011