In this interesting presentation of his research, Mr. Mitra demonstrates how children can fuel their own learning through their curiosity.
My favorite quote is, "If there is stuff on Google, then why do we have to stuff it in our head?" One of our biggest stumbling blocks with using new technology in the classroom, is this, we try to get the technology to perform the same traditional job of:
1) The authority (teacher, book, computer) presenting information or demonstrates a skill
2) Students memorize the information or practices the skill as much as they are willing or as much as they can in a predetermined amount of time
3) Students demonstrate the skill or parrot the knowledge back to the teacher for judgement
In a traditional model as described above, the variable in the knowledge equation is the expertise or mastery that children can demonstrate at the time of judging. Some students will earn an "A" and others will earn an "F."
One of the first things we should note about Mr. Mitra's experiment, when time was kept constant, the variable remained mastery. "When I came back in two months..." or "At the end of the experience, children were able to perform at 76% and when I came back two months later, we gave them a test and they performed at 76%." When time was no longer constant, then mastery went to 100%. "The fast team got it in 20 minutes, the last in 45."
I believe that it is time for educators to rethink the necessity of information memorization. I don't mean abandoning recall all together. Instead, I am asking, "What are the real essentials that a well-educated person should be able to recall of the top of her or his head?" If we all have or soon will have smart phones with access to google, what is a reasonable set of memorized and recallable pieces of information that will allow one to use the new tool efficiently?