A child's analysis of real-world problems and their solutions is innately different from an adult's, whether it is due to inexperience or unblemished innocence. However, these are the same reasons why a child's approach to problem-solving may be simpler, and perhaps even more insightful than those of adults.
That is why, when TED prize-winner Professor Sugata Mitra gave school children across the world real-world problems to study, their answers seemed straightforward, yet thought-provoking. None of these were taught to them — they learnt from their own research, and sometimes even went a step further and came up with their own unique takeaways.
Prof. Mitra with some of his young students.
Harlem, New York
When eight-year-olds began investigating why dogs chased cats, they reached the conclusion that the canines actually aren't trying to bother them, but were trying to play with them. But the cats get scared and scratch the dogs, which in turn makes them defensive, and they end up injuring the cats. What was the takeaway for these children?
"Misunderstandings create conflict. And when two people fight, the bigger person always wins."
Buenos Aires, Argentina
While researching on Fordism, 10-year-olds figured out what was wrong with the manufacturing method:
"Henry Ford's assembly line method treated people like machines, so it did not work out."
When Professor Mitra asked eight-year-olds to research the reconstruction of Japan following the World War II, this was their summary:
"After the war, the Americans told the Japanese how bad they are, then they told them what to do, then they told them how good they are."
Prof. Mitra in Turin, Italy, with some students.
County Durham, England
Of course, sometimes the answers aren't exactly what you are looking for. Take, for example, these nine-year-old researching on British colonial rule in India:
"The British Raj is an Indian Takeaway restaurant in South Shields."
Tamil Nadu, India
And sometimes, you don't blame them either. Because this is what happens when you ask 12-year-old Tamil-speaking kids in a village in Kalikuppam to research undergraduate level DNA replication and biotechnology for two months:
"Apart from the fact that improper replication of the DNA molecule causes genetic disease, we have understood nothing else."
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