Self-Educated College Graduates?

From Dehli, India, Dr. Sugata Mitra has been studying the concepts of minimally-invasive education for over 10 years.  In 1999, Dr. Mitra formed the “Hole-in-the-Wall” experiment.  Afterward, he began designing Self-Organized Learning Environments, which are currently used in a pilot study program through Newcastle University where he has recently taken on the role of Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education in the Communication and Language Sciences department.  So what could the results of this study determine?  What could the results mean for the U.S. economy?

In 1999, Dr. Mitra began the Hole-in-the-Wall experiment in Delhi (for details, see the Hole-in-the-Wall project on YouTube.com).  After several experiments, Dr. Mitra began to form multiple hypotheses based upon the data he learned.  The most interesting to him was about how children have a natural interest in learning.  After further studies, Dr. Mitra came to the realization that there is relatively little restriction on the capacity for a child to learn without adult direction.  Today, Dr. Mitra is operating under a grant from Newcastle University in London, UK to further study this concept using Self-Organized Learning Environments.

Within these S.O.L.E. clusters are 3 computers arranged in a 3-point center of a circle.  Enclosing this circle are three glass walls, forming 3 learning chambers, each separated from the other two by a glass wall.  These environments are currently in use to support over 300,000 students in poor areas throughout India and South Africa.  This study has shown an equal, if not higher, capacity for the children to learn without direct supervision by a teacher.

This is all wonderful for the education of children.  The idea is most likely a nightmare for those in the education careers.  The truth is that if this type of system were implemented successfully, the quality of teachers stands to increase since only the best teachers should be employed.  But before I get ahead of myself, let’s focus on the only truth in this story: This is still just a study.  The efficiency of this type of education has already been proven.  In order to take advantage of this system and ensure our participation in the future as a leading country, the US will need to create a similar structure in the near future.

The education rate for high school graduates in India is currently around 50%.  India accounts for roughly 16% of the world’s population.  The rate of 4-year college graduates from India currently rests around 20% of high school graduates, or only 10% of their population.  Many of these people are in competition with the US for jobs.  If these self-organized systems were distributed more broadly, India’s high school education rate would stand to increase as high as 80-90%.  This would be enough to start significant economic growth, allowing for the rate of college graduates to rise to around 25-35%.  This is 25-35% of all high school graduates, which means around 30% of the population of India would have a degree equal to or above a Bachelor’s degree.  The economy would continue to increase, allowing the secondary and post-secondary education rates to rise.  The result could potentially mean that as many as 25-30% of the entire Indian population could be in competition with the US for jobs.  When a country’s economy is this high, many jobs that do not require a presence within a particular ecological environment are moved into that country.  This could mean that a considerable portion of US jobs could be moved to India without the need for work visas.

If the US expects to be able to maintain a strong presence as a major player in the future world, we must make equal efforts to improve the quality of our education quickly.

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What’s In a Friend?

After watching a YouTube clip of the Reverend T. D. Jakes talk about the three fundamental personality types with which a person cooperates in a life time, I decided to go find more information about this.  While this post isn’t one of a religious theme, the message given by Reverend Jakes was as much scientifically interesting as it was religiously.  According to Reverend Jakes, a person will encounter and cooperate with three basic personality types, which he described as Confidants, Constituents, and Comrades.

A Confidant is a person to whom you can tell any piece of information without fear of damaging the relationship.  In general terms of friendship, it is from this personality type that we find our best friends.  These are the people who you know you can trust with any secret.  These are the people who you may only get a chance to see a few times each year, but somehow you never seem to grow apart.  In terms of romance, this personality type is where the rare person finds their soul mate.

A Constituent is a person who believes in the same things you believe in.  A person in this category may not believe in everything you believe in, but largely, you share the same beliefs.  These people make good friends.  In most cases, it is from this type of personality that we settle for a life mate.  I use the word settle, not because I believe that people genuinely make a conscious decision to settle for less than they may otherwise find, but because, in most cases, people aren’t lucky enough to find or recognize that rare Confidant who is the best possible match for them.  A few coworkers might fall into this classification of personality.

A Comrade is someone who will fight beside you or work with you to achieve a common goal or solve a common problem.  Once that task has been completed, these people will typically leave your side.  These people almost never make acceptable mates and only nominally better friends.  In many respects, many coworkers probably fall into this category.

According to sociology, there are generally five attributes we use to make friends: Proximity, Association, Similarity, Reciprocal Liking, and Physical Attractiveness.  Because proximity is rather obvious and fundamental, I will not be addressing this attribute.  Because physical attractiveness suggests a shallow personality, I will also be omitting this attribute.

When someone shares some generic problem with you, the two of you share an association.  You may work together with this person toward solving that problem.  When that problem has been solved, you are no longer associated, and may therefore part ways without any serious emotional damage.  These people are your Comrades.

When someone shares several common problems with you, only a handful of common interests, but you both have personalities that the other likes, you have a reciprocal liking.  These people make good general friends, but aren’t commonly close friends.

When someone shares an interest with you, the two of you are both associated and similar in that interest.  Because an interest is typically more grounded than a problem might be, you may call upon these people more frequently than someone with whom you only share a common problem.  These people are your Constituents.  It is from this group that your close friends are chosen.

The Confidants spoken about by Reverend Jakes are more difficult to identify through psychological means, but I believe Jakes gave the best method for determining who these people are.  “When you step into a room and give good news,” he said, “stop being happy for a moment and take note of everyone else’s reactions.  If no one is happy for you, shut your mouth, turn around, and walk out of the room, because they aren’t your confidants.”  According to Jakes, a confidant will cry with you when you cry.  A confidant will laugh with you with you laugh.  And a confidant will always be there when you need them.  A confidant will love you unconditionally.  It is from this group that you make your best friends and soul mates.