Minimally Invasive Education

1 minute read

Minimally Invasive Education is defined as a pedagogic method that uses the learning environment to generate an adequate level of motivation to induce learning in groups of children, with minimal, or no, intervention by a teacher.

This is a very interesting approach that in a sense is gaining in popularity in recent times thanks to other initiatives such as MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) and Flipped Classroom.

What makes the Minimally Invasive Education approach interesting to me is:

  1. The context of the initial experiment (1999): teaching basic computer literacy to 7-14 years old children, from urban slums and rural India.
  2. The social interactions inherently linked to learning in a classroom or equivalent social group.
  3. And lastly, the study of the extent of what is teachable without the presence of a guide or teacher, even for more advanced topics that are commonly associated with requiring some guidance, such as processes of personal change and self-discovery.

Another interesting bit from the paper:

Typically, educational settings adopt a single pedagogical method, that is, the drill and practice. When a single teaching method is used, a sizeable percentage of these children are likely to fail. Agreeably, it is difficult to encourage a multi-method approach, given the diversity of school-going children. Yet, the results obtained at the MIE LS indicate that young children are open to a variety of learning methods. Each learning method has its significant role in the entire process of learning computer skills. It is assumed that a similar template will emerge in other learning situations also. Further research in different contexts will help validate such an assumption.

The different methods analyzed are:

  1. Observation (39%)
  2. Peer Leader (35%)
  3. Trial and Error (9%)
  4. Verbal / Social (4%)
  5. Demonstration (4%)
  6. Rehearsal (3%)
  7. Outsider help (3%)
  8. Practice and Drill (3%)

It’s still from a single source and a sample of 250 children, but this quick list seem hinting correctly at the reason why our current school system is shaped in the way it is: observation is the main approach. However, that’s not the only approach.