Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Freedom without Learning is always in peril and Learning without Freedom is always in vain

We were asked to define our goals in distributing the XO’s this summer. After some thinking, my main goal, which may be different from the team, is to provide a basis for knowledge. In my opinion, the most important block to prosperity in many African and poor countries for that matter are poor because of a lack of knowledge. The most basic educational attainments that we have in the United States are not yet realized in the African countries. Many in Africa are afraid of the powers of technology and many just simply do not know the capabilities of technology.

On Friday we went to Rwamagana to provide a workshop for teachers who currently do not use the XO’s often in the classroom. One program was being pushed by OLPC members in our talking sessions (Scratch). This program is one that teaches children to program certain characters (called Sprite’s) on a background to perform certain tasks. It is similar to Visual Basic language…for example. If x happens move y for 20 steps. This program is said to teach problem solving skills. While it teaches problem solving skills, there is something inherently missing in their ability to use the XO. Their learning seems to be based on instruction rather than curiosity about the program. American children for instance, learn the concept and can teach themselves the program.

Africans are much more apprehensive to learning the new technology and is the primary reason the constructivist view about learning in my opinion will not work in Africa. For a constructivist method of learning its subjects need to be (1) excited about learning and (2) not afraid of technology and learning. I cannot identify what the African people are missing in this respect, but it is the primary reason when we introduce the technology to the teachers they are hesitant to utilize it.

To be comfortable with the technology the teachers need to be excites about the technology and have the capacity to teach using the technology. Therefore we need to teach them not to be afraid of the XO’s and use them to provide a basis for educating. Therefore, out goals will be educating the children and the teachers about the best way to obtain knowledge. This may be through learning

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