How adults and how kids want the OKAWA center to be like
by Spiros Tzelepis
Once more MIT, and especially the Media Lab, known for its pioneer work in many fields, goes one step further by creating the Okawa Center For Future Children due to a generous donation from Isao Okawa of Japan.
This Center claims to provide a real global learning revolution developing the possibilities that new digital technologies give to scientists in order to change the traditional way of learning and initiate a new interactive approach.
The learning approach will be based on direct exploration, expression and experience of learners. The basic concept of this Center is that children must learn and not be taught and that children must learn to express themselves beyond boundaries of language, geography, culture and age./P>
All the above reflect the dreams of the people involved in this institution and expresses what they want to do with it, but with this article I would mostly like to mention how a kid wants this Center to look, a kid who has many times dreamed of a foundation dealing exclusively with children. So I would like to make two points:
The first is the focus on the world's poorest countries. I wish this would be true and not only a big word and a promise. The basis of a Center for children must be the concern for the problems children face all over the world and not only in the developed countries. Kids exist all over the planet, and it is unfair for those who don't have the privilege to live in a developed country to be ignored when we want to build a social profile. New communication technologies provide the possibility that this wish can be fulfilled.
The second point is the promise that children will play an important role at the Center. If adults want to claim that they want to have a Center for children, they have to find a way to get the kids involved in it. Of course, kids don't have scientific and technical knowledge, but they have worthwhile ideas. What I mean is that I imagine this Center to have a permanent connection with kids from all the world, inform them about what scientists are trying to achieve, hear what they have to say and respect their point of view. There must be an interactive process between adults and children. This will be something really new, different and innovative. This will make this Center different from all other institutions which claim to be concerned about kids. The real way to show this concern is to give kids the opportunity to speak, then hear and respect what they have to say. We do not want another institution where adults act, adults decide and kids just hear and obey. Excuse us adults, but this is what usually happens. We hope that this will not happen once more.
A final issue--relative to above--is that there must be found a way for students and even pupils to work in this Center. The majority of the staff--except the scientists and experts--may consist of students. This will be beneficial to all involved, students and the Center itself. People who do not have the money needed for their studies will be helped. On the other hand these people will feel friendly and grateful to the Center in the future. This is a thing from which the real power of this Center will come: people who care, people who are dedicated to what they do. All the great visions need dedicated people.
Reconstruction: July-August-September 2002
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