Ep. 90 - The Moving Target of "Normal," with Prof. Sugata Mitra


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We hear a lot about ‘returning to normal’ these days, especially in response to Covid. To me, the term ‘normal' has become a marginally meaningless cliché, so I was intensely intrigued when I came across a blog post by Sugata Mitra in which he comments on a legitimate concept of ‘normal’ for these times… especially in direct relationship to the education of our children and students.

If you’ve been listening to this, the BIG PICTURE SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING podcast for awhile, you appreciate that the name for this podcast is no casual accident… because this podcast is all about providing a ‘big picture/wide angle lens on social emotional learning, and my approach to nurturing kids’ social and emotional development is very much in line with Sugata’s highly regarded work in proving that it’s better to NOT teach learners what they can learn by themselves… based on asking them the right kinds of questions… and asking those questions with an attitude and teacher/student relationship that fires up kids’ natural curiosity, intelligence, creativity, and collaborative problem-solving skills.

I first became aware of Prof. Sugata Mitra when, many years ago, I watched a TED talk he gave which resulted in him receiving a TED Prize of 1 million dollars for his paradigm-shifting approach to education which works with the natural ability of learners to come together (either in person or virtually) and learn via communication and collaboration. Sugata retired as Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University in 2019. It was an incredible honor to share conversation with him.

When paradigms shift, there are layers of adjustment required of us to relate in new ways to our world, to the ways in which we’ve always done things, to our relationships with others and with ourselves. The thing about paradigm shifts, that we need to understand, is that no matter how much we resist them, no matter how long we resist them, they’re not really optional… Throughout history waves of paradigm shifts have proven themselves to be manifestations of cumulative currents and rising tides powered by Life itself.

Change is hard for some people, but resistance to what is inevitable, from what I’ve observed, makes for an even rougher ride.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and so would Prof. Mitra, so please shoot us an email, or make a comment on the Big Picture Social Emotional Learning Podcast Facebook page.

Thank you for being here, and thank you for all that you do for our kids and for the world they’re growing into.

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