Saturday, January 20, 2007

Creative Society...

In my Media Application class we saw a video titled, "Sowing the Seeds for a more Creative Society". This was a presentation given by a professor at MIT Media Labs, Mitchel Resnick. It was one of the most interesting and thought provoking lectures on creative societies of the future. He started off with a very simple question, Pick the odd one out from: Television, Computer and Paintbrush. Most people would pick Paintbrush because other two are both inventions of 20th century but he comes around to the point that there is or should be much more commonality between a Paintbrush and Computer than the other two because both are an interactive mediums of expression. In India, China and Japan the buzzword is knowledge-based industry but US/Canada are moving to the next step with creative societies, while outsourcing some of the work of knowledge based industries to third-world countries, in order to remain competitive and increase their efficiencies.

MIT Media Lab in Boston

The Professor argues that Computers have to an extent failed the educational system. They have replaced teachers by providing students information but this information is very one-sided and non-interactive. The way computers can serve our society better is by becoming an expression of creativity rather than knowledge. He gave a very interesting example of Kindergarten. How do we learn in school in KG? We usually have a KG class (or Nursery in India) with toys, shapes, colors, paint etc. and we would experiment and explore, to learn about them. He argues that we should have the same approach to rest of schooling where we don't learn from books but by experimenting and exploring things that interest us. I disagree a bit with him because it is necessary to atleast get the basic education the traditional way like Math and Sciences because they are working well but once those are imparted, in later classes we should revert back to the KG approach of learning by experimenting. Traditionally, this would be very expensive way to teach but this is where software technologies can come and let people experiment without being too expensive and in most cases free by using open-source technologies.

Creativity starts here...

He gives an example of Singapore where traditionally Math and Sciences are valued very highly by its society very much like India, but not much innovation is coming from people there because they are not experimenting and learning the old-way. So, although they can solve traditional problems but they cannot provide creative solutions to problems and we are living in a world where in order to succeed one has to be creative to flourish. He then goes on to show how MIT has developed some software that can revolutionize how we learn and educate are generations to come. He also shows example from around the world, how kids are using technology to solve their day to day problems in a creative way.

The last success story he tells is the one that stand out. MIT Labs have Computer Clubhouse Project where they are giving children from low-income families or countries opportunity to express themselves using technology. They have a center in Delhi and he tells about a project there where a 13 year old who was living in slum area, was part of this project and using software with which you could see things under microscope on the computer screen. He was playing with that when he put the water he was drinking under the microscope and discovered that it had germs of all kinds. He decided to check the source of water and found that it was usually taken from municipal taps in unhygienic areas of slums. He did a survey in the slum on how people treat the water and found that boiling water is the best way to get rid of germs and so he convinced his parents to boil the water. It just shows how technology was able to raise standard of living of this individual and his family. This boy learned more by experimenting and exploring then he would have learned it in school if someone would have lectured him about water safety.

As a software professional these are the kind of projects that excite me. It gives me tools to make a difference in our society through my knowledge. If we all can use our skills, that we gained through traditional or otherwise means, we all can contribute to our society. This is one of the most inspiring video that I watched and it had rejuvenated me to learn 'n' explore more, not only to get a good paying job but create software that can bring the best in our society.

This is a long video but if anyone wants to watch it, the link is here.

Destruction, a new photo-post up @ kaarindah...

NEW - A new tech blog by yours truly...Creative Minds

17 Comments:

Anonymous Mehak said...

Thought of saying Heylo before reading the post :)

8:30 PM  
Blogger faith said...

wow! nice topic.. i agree with professor and you both.. well i do like the basic education system of india.. as we need a solid base for future and in my thoughts we can explore more and understand better if the fundas are clear.. its a bit hard for little kinder kids though.. later we surely have to give up that theory coz it just dont expands our thinking process much and as he said we can provide mathematical solution to problem but we lack in presenting creative alternatives..
aah! now i have to think whats my creative lavel... btw, can we count bug fixing as creativity... see we try to fix it dont work.. then we write smthing else... it doesnt work either... then again and again... err so much creativity indeed... hai na .. haan haan pata hai PJ hai:D

nice post..

9:52 PM  
Blogger The Bhandari's said...

hmm thought provoking post :)

5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

payal:
you know Ricki, the one thing i absolutely love about all your posts is that you describe everything in crisp details, leaving out nothing, just a few gaps for the imagination to fill in. in other words, you use words to their best possible extent. and as for this post, it was quite an interesting read, and really, i agree with you and the professor. What he has said is so right, but what we need to do is combine both his method - experimentation, and combine it with the traditional approach we have towards studies. only by culminating the best of both, can we achieve an education system which truly educates you.
n btw, rain has started accepting comments again. :)

8:21 PM  
Blogger Fuzzylogic said...

This certainly was a very interesting post.I have seen lot of differences between the schooling we had back in India and what we have here.Here a lot of emphasis is given to developing and opening your mind and experimenting,we do get however a soild base of knowledge in our old schooling but somewhere the creative approach is lost.I feel a solid base on which a creative approach is built would be an ideal solution.You have made some pretty good points from the professor's speech.Great post!

8:52 AM  
Blogger anks said...

hey.... just wanted to thank you for the wonderful wonderful birthday post!

And I did it in your style - chk out my blog!

11:15 PM  
Blogger anks said...

You know, I completely agree with you when you say that basic stuff like math and science needs to be taught the traditional way.... interactivity can come in other areas - like languages for example.... and in India, the problem is the method of testing and grading the students.... that is the area we need to focus upon!

11:22 PM  
Blogger Shankar said...

Nice post... I guess India requires a major shift from the traditional educational system. Presently, it's all about mugging up your textbooks leaving no room for creativity.

8:16 PM  
Anonymous marlee said...

Hmmm...agree to what ur saying...but how does one change the outlook of the majority of the population in our country?

8:52 PM  
Blogger Colors said...

Hey Ricky...finally got a chance to comment here. You know how busy I am during the day ;)

The presentation sounds interesting and the teaching method sounds like the way to go. But I do agree with you, what we have learned and the way we have learned is also necessary, but practical knowledge would certainly help it make it a lot stronger.

What other such creative software are there though?

9:36 PM  
Anonymous preeti said...

hello ricky ke bachhe... main post baad main padhoongi..where are u ?

10:32 PM  
Anonymous Juneli said...

Interesting as usual. What to talk about educational system of India our is much more behind than others.

Anyway Happy Republic Day :)

11:34 PM  
Blogger Urvi said...

Nice post Ricky.. very well presented.. :)

No doubt our traditional educational system is not tht bad.. but as the time is moving at a faster pace.. we are quite behind. Some steps has to be taken towards creative approach to explore the learning ability and skills of our generation nd the generations to come.. nd v can do tht.. the need is to change the basic educational system by giving creative approach with the help of technology… learning by doing. We can jst look at an example of tht 13 yr old boy in ur post.. tht how did he experimented & worked on the project. We hav to understand tht as time moves.. we hav to modify the basic system and make certain reforms according to the global changes. unfortunately, our curriculum does not cater to the dynamic world. The syllabi followed in schools nd colleges do not hav relevance or meaning to the changes taking place worldwide. Involving society in the learning process at all levels is wht v should look forward to. Making education more intimate with real life situations nd generating new ideas is the need of the hour.

Good one ricky.. :)

9:50 PM  
Blogger Ricky said...

mehak - Hello hello jee...

faith - Thanks!! Very well put. You have creative streak??...lol. Of course, creativity comes in bug-fixing too, even though you may not realize that.

bhandari's - Thanks!!

payal - Thanks Payal!! I agree with you.

10:39 PM  
Blogger Ricky said...

fuzzylogic - Thanks!! I agree with you on that. Although, things in India are improving.

anks - Yeayyyyy, we agree on something. Yea, testing has to be improved so that it reflects overall personality and not just theoretical knowledge.

shankar - Thanks!! Welcome to my blog. I agree with you on that.

10:45 PM  
Blogger Ricky said...

marlee - Again through education and by making it compulsory and teaching through non-conventional means. Did you remember that educational program, Chaupal or something. I thought that was great way to teach people.

colors - Oh yes, you are toh bhery busy these days with your gullible infos...hehe.

Its mostly toys for kids to make them think creatively made mainly at MIT for Mattle and companies.

10:49 PM  
Blogger Ricky said...

preeti - Tu post kabhi toh padh leeya kar heroine.

juneli - Thanks!! Happy Republic Day to you too.

urvi - Thanks Urvi!! Loved your comment. I agree with you on all counts. I hope things improve with time lest our country lag behind.

10:53 PM  

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