The “Bureaucratic Machine”

In a Ted Talk, Sugata Mitra who started the Hole-in-the-Wall project, reveals the impetus for the modern school—which began three hundred years ago. He describes how the British Empire needed a way to keep track of an enormous expanse of territory so it created the “Bureaucratic Machine.” The Machine allowed leaders to track what was happening in disparate parts of the world and to keep the machine running it trained children to be future bureaucrats with an emphasis on three things:

  • Good handwriting
  • An ability to read and
  • Basic arithmetic

Mitra notes that not a lot has changed in modern schools and he asserts that learning isn’t about making it happen, it’s about letting it happen. Mitra’s story is inspirational and a reminder that to do Common Core well, we need to perceive schools as less about having students practicing and mastering a series of discreet skills. Instead it should be about creating an environment where students learn about the world and how evidence can be used to inform and support an argument. The video can be viewed here.

About Aaron Grossman

I am a 5th grade teacher at Roy Gomm Elementary in Reno, Nevada. I started working with elementary students as part of the Montana Reads program and AmeriCorps. In 2001, after graduating from the University of Montana and moving to Reno, Nevada, I student taught at Rita Cannan Elementary before receiving a 6th grade position at Veterans Elementary. I moved out of the classroom to be a Literacy Coordinator, then an Instructional Coach, and finally a School Improvement Program Coordinator. In 2011, I began working on the Nevada Academic Content Standards in the district’s Curriculum & Instruction Department. I returned to the classroom for the 2015-2016 school year to teach 4th grade at Huffaker Elementary. Before returning to the classroom, I helped develop the Core Task Project that has been featured by National Public Radio, the Gates Foundation, American Radio Works, Eduwonk, the Fordham Institute, Vox, and the Center for American Progress. In 2014, I received the Leader to Learn From Award for my teacher-centered initiative and work to bring college, career, and civics ready outcomes into Northern Nevada classrooms (here). In 2015, I was appointed by Governor Sandoval serve on the Statewide RPDP Council. The same year, Nevada’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction Steve Canavero placed me on the state’s State Improvement Team. This year I will be part of the National Council on Teacher Quality’s Teacher Advisory Group. I am Google Certified Educator and a Nevada Teacher Ambassador. I believe strongly that teaching content is teaching reading and I make sure my students have ample opportunities to work with social studies, history, science and art outcomes. I do what I can to blend the learning for my students and this blog is part of that effort. You can contact me at
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