The face of education is constantly evolving.
In stereotypical classroom setups, the teacher is always deemed to be the expert – the holy one – someone whose knowledge is unquestionable. The direction of information flow is strictly, one-directional and there is little or no collaboration. However, true education can be imparted only when the learners get together.
The true strength of a classroom lies in the collaboration of the learners and not in the knowledge of one expert.
Gone also are the days when parents could take it easy – leisurely enjoy their dose of everyday serials while the children mug up formulas and theorems. Information is readily available today – technology has enabled kids a lot – so much so, that it is not the lack of information that hurts – but the ‘un-togetherness’ of families.
The ideal scenario would be to get the three minds together. Is there a way to involve the parents, teachers and the kids together in a learning environment? (And No! PTA meetings don’t count!)
Yes, there is. We can achieve this by what I call Intergenerational Learning – collaborative learning across generations.
“The truly human society is a learning society – where grandparents, parents and children are students together.”
– Eric Hoffer
Robotics is surely one such field where collaborative learning across generations becomes all the more important. Here are the top 5 reasons why:
- Better Cross-Learning
Research shows that when children collaborate with an adult and build projects, the learning is mutually higher.
When one teaches, two learn.
Why is it so?
Parents, by instinct, improve the child’s learning by probing, asking questions, providing guidance and helping the child have more fun while creating a project. Moreover, with kids being more adept with the latest technological advancements, it allows them to play teacher to the adult – something that they adapt to with aplomb.
- Higher Social Value
The participation of an adult creates a great positive climate for learning. Most importantly, it signals to the child the importance of the activity, leading him/her to pay closer attention to what is being done.
As adults, our primary job will be to instil the urge for social learning within the child – not pedagogy (or ‘spoon-feed’ them).
Education is the kindling of a flame – not filling up a vessel.
Additionally, I love to assign children certain leadership roles. When kids are made proxy-leaders,their social value rises incredibly. The respect and concern for other kids, the genuine interest in helping other kids finish their project lead to the child appreciating the diversity that is present in the world of today.
Scenes from our Bootcamp, (at) Atta Galatta, Jan 31st, 2016, Bengaluru
- Improved Focus and Persistence
Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But, for children…play IS serious learning.
Robotics is where the two facets of play and serious learning collapse into a beautiful mess.
As with games, the end result might not be what we expect. So, parents and kids learn not only to build projects but also skills much more valuable – focus, patience, persistence and resilience.
However, I have noticed that some parents like to be completely in control of the projects they are building with the kids. So much so, that the kids (just) sit there waiting for the parents to complete the kits, and present it back to the teachers.
Parents – the key here is to let things flow as unexpectedly as it would; oversimplifying the process of building will take away the kids learning capabilities.
Don’t handicap your children by making their lives too easy.
- The Ability to Learn From Mistakes
When parents and kids collaborate, they are less judgmental and more accepting of mistakes. There is adequate freedom to experiment, fail and learn through different permutations and combinations of errors. As parents, we might be guilty of going way out of our way to protect our child from struggling through mistakes. Here’s where parents need to curb their parental instincts and hold themselves back. Let the kids make mistakes.
What’s worse than making a mistake? Being afraid of making one.
The more mistakes they make, better the learning. After all, creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun.
- Heightened Experiential Learning
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
– Benjamin Franklin
As teachers, we are not meant to TEACH per se. We are meant to be enablers – providing the child a platform to experience learning. I always believe that the biggest enemy to learning is, an overzealous (talking) teacher.
Therefore, parents and teachers cannot stop with merely teaching the child . . . they need to experience it.
It is similar to learning to swim or drive a car. No amount of YouTube videos nor theory can help you out when you finally plunge headfirst into the swimming pool or clasp your steering wheel tightly.
You want to learn physics? Experience it.
You’ve. Got. To. Experience it.
Robotics is easily one of the best forms of experiential learning there can be. Combine Robotics with Intergenerational Learning and you have a winner.
Founder of Indian Superheroes