The Teacher’s Job Is Very Simple…

…or perhaps I should have entitled this: “The Surprising Inspiration of Slumdog Millionaire”.

I finally caught the oh-so-very-uplifting Slumdog Millionaire last night, and on that high, I’ve been poking around the internet, trying to find out more about the film.  As wonderful as this film is, what excites me even more is that it’s just one part of an amazing trail of inspiration.  Slumdog Millionaire was adapted from the novel Q & A.  The author, Vikas Swarup, was in turn inspired by Dr Sugata Mitra’s Hole in the Wall Project, which was in turn inspired by…  I could tell you the whole long story, but it’s been a delicious delight for me to go through the process of tracing Slumdog’s inspirational “lineage”, so I’ll leave the pleasure to you.  Suffice to say, you never know what wonderful things something you say, do, observe or create can inspire next, and not necessarily in the “field” you started out with, so do let it flow!  And like I used to remind the boys in our leadership workshops, to challenge the process, we need to keep our minds open – we never know what will inspire us or where it could take us.

Me being me, naturally I’m most interested in delving more into Dr Mitra’s decade-old experiment in what he came to term Minimally Invasive Education.  I remember reading about it a long time back.  I’m not sure exactly how much of his findings have trickled down into practice in mainstream education today, but from experience, and the rhetoric that’s been bandied about so much, I’m guessing, in theory, it’s had a massive impact.  Of course, theory and everyday practice are often two different stories, but it’s always essential to remember the big picture, and aspire towards it.  That’s why I’m really appreciating this excerpt from Dr Mitra’s interview with BusinessWeek back in 2000:

“The teacher’s job is very simple. It’s to help the children ask the right questions.”
– Dr Sugata Mirta

We know this already, we’ve certainly been told enough times.  But it always helps to go back to basics to remember why, so we remember why we need to hold the idea dear in practice.

That’s what I hope I remember to do: help people ask the right questions – just like Mum did with me when I was younger.  How about you?

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