SA's SOLE Forum explores a big idea with a deep impact

Published: Monday 21 May 2018

"We don't need one computer per student.  In fact we can get better outcomes with one to four!"

On 10th May 2018, a group of about 30 educators and designers participated in our workshop investigating the ideas of Sugata Mitra and his Self-Organising Learning Environment (S.O.L.E.).

Arranged in cabaret format around a screen, we enjoyed excellent nibbles and fine (South Australian) wine to watch Sugata's 2010 TED talk.

Then we discussed some "Big Questions" facilitated wonderfully by Chantelle Love with 12-month-old Archie on one arm.

"How do we know that Self Organising Learning Environments work?"
"How does small group collaboration produce deeper learning?"
"Where will the method take us?"
"Where is a good place to start?"

Deep Learning
Groups of 3-5 working together on a problem can explore and research collaboratively in a way not possible with individuals working on their own.  There is a richer, multi-layered learning and retention of knowledge available through this shared effort.

Gaynor, an experienced Primary School Principal suggested that, for ages 8-10, this method would promote healthy competition within the group to excel.  Gaynor was energised by the simplicity and effectiveness of the SOLE methodology and was excited to try it out in her classes the next day.  
Collaboration between designers and educators
The opportunity which the forum provided for architects and educators to talk through and explore big picture ideas was valued by both. Thinking evolved around the spatial implications of instigating SOLE pedagogy: what is the best physical environment to support this?  The SOLE practice was a self-levelling respectful way of giving all members an equal voice.

If children have interest, then learning happens
Are we producing students who "don't know what to do when they don't know what to do?"  The SOLE format encourages exploration on the edges of their comfort zone in a supportive environment.  It facilitates problem solving and experimenting and gives permission to fail in the process.  

Concerns were expressed about where NAPLAN is taking us; how to work with parent & community expectations and how these might influence what happens to learning.  Where will Gonski 2.0 lead?

It is difficult to imagine in today's Australia, a place where children's rights are not respected.  We envisaged children designing their places for learning, what they learn and the places and times in which this learning takes place.

"What is stopping us from creating SOLE?" Nothing!

Article: David Kilpatrick

Photos: Georgina House