About Thinks

Sometimes good thinks happen and sometimes bad thinks happen. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish between the two.

Some thinks need immediate action and some thinks may remain as thinks forever. Thinks can be angry and heated. Thinks can be joyful. Thinks should never be cold.

These thinks are linked to many other wonderful thinks and I like to attribute these.

These thinks do not necessary reflect those thinks of my employer.

Think long, think on.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I bet you your gingerbread house resembles mine...

Neela's Gingerbread House 12-05-2009-4

If you are reading this you are probably aware that I am kicking around the idea of Minimally Invasive Education (MIE).

It is amazing how as time goes by I am learning everyday how complex the notion of MIE is. When I first started looking into I assumed it was much like older 'child centred' philosophies. I could imagine the more experienced educators around the place saying things like,
"Oh, so that's what you are calling it these days. We did that in the 1980s except then we called it ..."
And that may still be the case. However it does not stop me from being insanely fascinated by the concept of MIE.

What I have discovered is that the more I attempt to 'do' MIE the more I understand it, which is weird because that is what MIE is all about.

I have had many insights and revelations and I would like to share my most recent one.

Initially through the research of Dr Sugata Mitra, I went in thinking that MIE was about 'letting the kids go' and to a certain extent it is. But what I discovered today, is that it is not limited to being minimally invasive about the kids, it can extend well beyond that.

My kids have been working on sharing a tale from their culture. To cut a long story short they were outlining their culture to some kids in Australia and mentioned an old story that their Grandparents had passed down. When a couple of kids asked a question about the story, my kids first instinct was to find a link to the story on the Internet that they could forward to them. It then became apparent that their story was not represented on the Internet so they set out to do their own version of it.

This has taken about three weeks. We have had many other curriculum demands going on, so we have been squeezing this special learning in when we can and the kids have been contributing to their shared google doc at home.

I have been very hands off, providing only the digital equipment and having a few philosophical conversations with them about dominant cultures and whether or not it was 'okay' for them to be the first 'publishers' of their culture's legends.

Anyway, they finished and shared a pretty raw version of their story today. There is a mix of webcam, paint, sound recording and an old photo of one of their grandparents. The reason for the mix of digital media was not done on purpose but because that was what was available to them on various days.

There are themes of violence and cannibalism in this story. It's quite gory but I don't think that it is gratuitous. It's kids telling a scarey story. It's kids being kids.

This makes me realise how truly magnificent it is that our children are in a position where they can share their own stories with other kids around the globe without an adult being overly involved. Consider the dumbed-down and 'disneyfied' versions of the stories from my culture (Hansel and Gretal, Snow White and Jack and the Beanstalk). We were 'done to' with those versions, we were distracted by magical gingerbread houses while a witch was popped into an oven in the background. Even our imaginations where invaded with our childhood stories. Publishers made the decisions as to what that gingerbread house looked like. We will never be able to dream up our own versions.

This is where the deeper lever of 'minimally invasive' comes in. It's not just about minimal intervention into the way kids learn, but also minimal intervention into the content. As you can tell their story is in no way 'censored' but because they do not need to go through publishers (and that they have more options than just print) their authentic child perception of the tale is able to come through. I don't know if it's just me, but I think that is pretty exciting!


  1. Wow! This is such powerful learning. I'm off to learn more as I think this is me as a teacher too. Wouldn't it be good if all classrooms and learning were like this.
    Inspiring! :-)

  2. Tara, once again you blow me away with what your kids are doing! They have to be among the luckiest children anywhere to have a teacher like you who can allow them the space to explore and create without intervention. I am sure they are (justifiably) proud of what they have created and have gained immeasurable skills and knowledge from the process, along with enhanced self esteem and confidence.