[p2p-research] Thanks for: Suggestions wanted for education to p2p practices and attitude

M. Fioretti mfioretti at nexaima.net
Thu Nov 26 18:27:01 CET 2009

On Thu, Nov 26, 2009 11:51:41 AM -0500, Paul D. Fernhout wrote:

> I see you talk positively about "TeacherMate".
> "The great educational minicomputer that didn't want to exist"
> http://stop.zona-m.net/education/great-educational-minicomputer-didnt-want-exist

Yes, within the context that is (I hope) clear from that and from this
other article:


that is: it seems to me that devices like those can automate and make
much more efficient the low-level parts of "traditional" teaching.

I agree with the spirit of what you wrote (and thanks again for always
being a gold mine of reference! I am always amazed by how quick you
are to produce them). However, I also think that there are a lot of
good teachers around, who _do_ want to "educate" and not just

Make them more efficient and good things will happen anyway, (much)
sooner than with some Grand Plan. A lot of those teachers operate in
such extreme conditions (classes of 70+ childrens of several ages)
that *any* support can make their work much better.

I just heard from a lady who works for an NGO in Latin America that
she sees all the time children in 3rd/4th grade still unable to read
because a) classes are too big, b) teachers only know and practice
very old methods. When this lady had permission to teach there the 3Rs
(she's a retired teacher herself) the way it's been done in Italy for
3 decades now, children learned to read in a few months, not years.

And children who learn early to read well are people who may change
the world much sooner than with the OLPC or any other radical
revolution. So I agree with you and Gatto that there's tons of things
wrong in the current system, but between "optimizing" it today and
waiting for some grand metamorphosis to happen, I'll chose the first
any time.

> Anyway, we can build our political assumptions into our
> infrastructure.  TeacherMate builds in a very different (and
> anti-P2P) set of assumptions into our infrastructure than the more
> pro-P2P OLPC project.

Yes, but TeacherMate and similar are much less vaporware than OLPC. 

Frankly, at least by some of its fans (starting from NN) OLPC seems to
me really based on the assumption that if you just throw a bunch of
laptops to a bunch of kids and go have a coffee, when you're back the
children will have magically educated themselves, P2P-ly working
together.  That's crap. When I posted my original request here
somebody pointed out something very right: P2P-like miracles,
collaborative work, self-learning and so on only happen, or tend to
exclusively happen, with people who already have the right
prerequisite skills. 

> Here is another curiosity to think about. The homeschooling
> movement has quietly grown to a size where one and a half million
> young people are being educated entirely by their own parents.

That will be the subject of another article I already have in the
pipe. Stay tuned!

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