A series of experiments by Sugata Mitra revealed that groups of children can learn almost anything by themselves. In 1999, he dug a hole in a wall neighboring a shantytown in New Delhi, fitted a computer connected to The Internet, with a hidden camera. Soon, kids from the slum started playing with the PC, searching through a wide variety of websites on science and other topics and learning English and then teaching each other.
Sugata Mitra launched another experiment in Kalikuppam with an interesting question: “Can Tamil speaking 12-year-old youngsters in a village in South Indian, use English to learn biotechnology of DNA from a streetside computer by themselves?
Two months later, the children admitted that they didn’t understand anything. At first, Sugata was not surprised about their inability to find the answer to the difficulty of the subject till a young girl expounded: “Apart from the fact that the improper replication of the DNA molecule causes genetic disease, we have understood nothing else.”
It was then that Sugata realized that if the experience he witnesses in Kalikuppam could happen, kids from any part of the world can learn about anything without being instructed by anybody.
Sugata Mitra traveled to a school in Turing, Italy, English was not known to the kids here. Sugata Mitra wrote in English on the board as he couldn’t speak Italian: “How did the dinosaurs die?” Surprisingly, the kids within twenty minutes answered in both languages the question.
In another question, he asked, “Who is Pythagoras and what did he do?” Although the question was a little trickier for the ten-year-olds, in few minutes, Sugata was informed that he misspelled Pythagoras, and the kids spelled the mathematician and philosopher’s name in Italian.