Posted by: Margaret Campbell | December 6, 2010

“Stop them.”

Reporting from the Big Ideas Fest – Half Moon Bay, CA – Dec. 5 through Dec 8 2010

During Professor Sugata Mitra’s ( ) keynote talk December 5, 2010 at the Big Ideas Fest (#bif2010 @bigideasfest ), he told stories of children working in groups of four to find answers to very difficult questions. He described convincing teachers to leave the classroom, so that he could work with the children, ~ ages 9-11.

Mitra described wonderful success with his basic rules for the students: work in groups of 4 with one internet-connected computer, change groups if you want, take solutions from each other and share with other groups if you want, pretty much do what you want…but find the answers to the questions.

The children were smiling, noisy, intense, active…and they found the answers.

But when one of the teachers returned to the classroom, Mitra reported that the teacher had said, “Stop them.” Sitting at my table, listening to those words… “stop them” …

I cried.



  1. Great idea. Children deserve time to think rather than being micromanaged. It sounds like the Challenge Based Learning model or PBL model.

  2. Children are actually very inquisitive and interested in learning… until they get to school. Doesn’t that seem wrong? Thanks for posting Margaret!

  3. Unfortunately, not all teachers understand that noise and movement does not necessarily mean unengaged, out-of-hand students. Quite the contrary, these students were engaged, were actively participating in their learning and were sharing and collaborating. Shame for that teacher to not see that.

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