The problem that we face is that almost every education system in the world was created by a colonial power, not to encourage innovation and problem-solving, but to keep the population in order while their country was pillaged.
Now, I don’t want to get involved in a discussion of the political elements of this claim, but I do want to discuss the state of education today.
It seems obvious that our schools do not “encourage innovation and problem-solving”. This situation does not seem to be improving. And it is not just K-12 education.
If there is a chance of changing that situation, it comes from the free access to information. And that is where the OLPC project comes in. Students can have access to information much more easily when they have access to the Internet. Children are naturally curious and, given the chance, will follow that curiosity and will learn.
All too often we kill that curiosity in school. We force kids into move lock-step through material that may or may not be interesting to them. I do not understand why this has to be. Why do all students in a class have to do the same thing in the same way at the same time?
There are examples of teachers doing things differently, or starting to anyway. I think of Clarence Fisher’s work,like his students’ Outsiders wiki . I think of Eric Langhorst’s The Guerrilla Season project. And then, of course, there is Barbara Ganley’s blogging and her work with her students. She sets the bar, as far as I can see.
Computers don’t and won’t automatically change education. It will take teachers who are able to open up the world to their students through using them to make a real difference.