Are Schools Really Becoming Obsolete?

“Schools as we know them are obsolete.” – Sugata Mitra

These are really very strong words and Sugata Mitra, the man behind the Hole in the Wall project, believes that it is true. In a video published on, Mitra said that the current education system is wonderfully constructed – but it is already outdated. It is not broken. It is just that our society have reached a point wherein the old educational system is no longer effective. At least, this is true when it comes to equipping children with what they need when they enter the modern and highly technological corporate rat race.

smiling child with a laptopOne example that Sugata Mitra mentioned is that the old system teaches being able to write is a must. That is true but writing beautifully is not necessary anymore. We have computers for that. In fact, most of the writing is no longer done by hand – but by typing it in a computer. We just have to concentrate on learning how to read and use the new writing devices that are available today.

The advancements in technology is so fast and while the rest of the world is trying to catch up in learning them, the schools are too slow to adapt. At least, this is true for the type of educational system that most of us are still following. Most of the skills that we get from school are clerical ones.

We do not need to be taught how to be clerks because our computers can do that for us. That is why we built these machines. We do not need to learn how to compute in our minds because there is a faster way of doing so. We have to teach our children and the future generations how to stay ahead of technology.

Sugata Mitra mentioned that among the skills that we need to continue teaching, it is reading. But it is not just about reading to recognize letters and words. The schools need to teach students how to read discerningly. That means reading and processing what information is appropriate to accept.

An interesting idea that you can derive from Mitra’s words is that you do not learn how to read just to acquire information. You learn to read so you can recognize information and question it. That is what is important. That is how you teach students to stimulate their minds and be creative. It is how you shape them into being pioneers – not just followers.

The key is to merely give them the idea and the tools – and let them learn for themselves. Start the process and encourage them to continue it. That, is what Sugata Mitra believes is the next phase of learning.

Here is how he illustrated it:

There was a time when Stone Age men and women used to sit and look up at the sky and say, “What are those twinkling lights?” They built the first curriculum, but we’ve lost sight of those wondrous questions. We’ve brought it down to the tangent of an angle. But that’s not sexy enough. The way you would put it to a nine-year-old is to say, “If a meteorite was coming to hit the Earth, how would you figure out if it was going to or not?” And if he says, “Well, what? how?” you say, “There’s a magic word. It’s called the tangent of an angle,” and leave him alone. He’ll figure it out.

You know that the child can figure it out because technology makes self-learning very easy. The child can Google it and he will have the answer.

In another article that we published in this blog, we talked about how Sir Ken Robinson claims that schools kill the creativity of students. If we stick to the motions of teaching them how to read, that is what we are doing. But if we teach them how to read and also filter out what they are reading, then we are encouraging them to be creative. We are not boxing them in to what we think is right and wrong.

If you consider carefully the ideas of both Sugata Mitra and Sir Ken Robinson, you will realize that they are not attacking the current system. They are not after reforming the system. They want it to be transformed so that it can keep up with the emerging technological tools and changes happening around us.

What are your thoughts about our current education?

Here is the full video of Sugata Mitra’s talk.

Image courtesy of photostock for