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.