On Saturday 5th of April at the IATEFL conference in Harrogate, Sugata Mitra delivered a plenary session that proved to be acclaimed and vilified at the same time. I was in the room at the time, and witnessed a large proportion of the room rise to their feet at the climax of his talk. After the hubbub had died down, discussion immediately began and dissenting voices began to appear. The debate hasn’t stopped yet and it continues on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and on Wednesday 9th of April, on #ELTchat.
In this look at what has become one of the most contentious issues in our field for a long time, I will first summarise what was discussed in the #ELTchat, before looking at some of the other issues have been brought up by bloggers in the aftermath his talk.
According to Wikipedia “His work demonstrated that groups of children, irrespectively of who or where they are, can learn to use computers and the Internet on their own with public computers in open spaces such as roads and playgrounds, even without knowing English.” Many people have their doubts about his claims, including me, I feel I should point out before you read on!