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Posted on August 30, 2011

Click on the image below to view a slideshow of Mission Day XIII.

Sugata Mitra talks to audience in Steele Hall.

Even without formal instruction, children can — and will — teach themselves if they are motivated by curiosity and interest among their peers.

That’s what Dr. Sugata Mitra discovered more than a decade ago, when he and his research partners placed an Internet-connected computer behind a hole in a wall in an urban slum in Delhi, India.

A hidden camera showed the neighborhood’s children, who never had been taught to use a computer, playing with the device. Soon they were using the computer to go online — and teaching each other what they had learned. Mitra was the keynote speaker Oct. 26 at Mission Day XIII, a day devoted to exploring a single topic of interest to the campus community. Classes were cancelled so all members of the campus community can participate.

Mitra is a professor of educational technology in the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom.

He is the leading proponent of “minimally invasive education,” which suggests that by stimulating a learner’s curiosity and providing the appropriate tools, children will drive their own education.

Mitra holds a doctorate in physics and is credited with more than 25 inventions in the area of cognitive science and educational technology.

Learn more

Read a biography of Dr. Sugata Mitra.

Learn more about Dr. Mitra: The child-driven education: Sugata Mitra on 

See how kids teach themselves on

Watch the BBC2 discuss Dr. Mitra's research on "The Culture Show."

Read an article by Dr. Mitra on how he transfered his research to British classrooms.

Read Matt Ridley's blog on Dr. Mitra's self-organized learning environment (SOLE).

Visit the Mission Day XIII website.

About Mission Day

A Cal U tradition since 1998, Mission Day allows all members of the University community to engage in dialogue, share ideas and voice recommendations as equals in order to advance the institution’s mission and goals. Daytime classes will be cancelled so that students, faculty, staff and alumni can participate in the program and discuss the topic. Evening classes may be cancelled at the instructor’s discretion. Watch for more information about Mission Day XIII on the Cal U events calendar.