Fab Fridays 18: Unstructured Learning

We cannot educate kids. We can only inspire them to educate themselves.

Happy Friday friends!

Greetings from Panama.

I recently came across a bold experiment that got me thinking about the power of unstructured learning.

In 2012, the One Laptop Per Child organization dropped off closed boxes with Android laptops in two villages in Ethiopia. The boxes were taped shut, and had no instructions.

Kids from these two villages approached the boxes. Kids who had never previously seen printed materials, road signs, or even packaging that had words on them.

Here’s what happened:

  • Within 4 minutes, they found the on-off switch and powered it up 

  • Within 5 days, they were using 47 apps per kid, per day 

  • Within 2 weeks, they were singing ABC songs in the village 

  • Within 5 months, they had hacked Android 

No school. No teacher. No textbook.

“The kids had completely customized the desktop—so every kids’ tablet looked different.  We had installed software to prevent them from doing that. The fact they worked around it was clearly the kind of creativity, the kind of inquiry, the kind of discovery that we think is essential to learning.” —Nicholas Negroponte, One Laptop Per Child’s founder

What can we learn from this?

Kids have a natural desire to learn. Sometimes, all they need is access, time, and space. Sometimes, all we need to do is stay out of the way.

I’ve been working with kids for years now, and it is very clear to me that it is not possible to force education on them. No matter how much we try to cram knowledge into their heads, they can just ignore it.

We cannot educate kids. We can only inspire them to educate themselves.

This realization made me stop trying to force learning and instead, focus on inspiring kids to learn on their own. The best way to help kids learn is to be a source of inspiration, motivation, and resources. And this is something that any parent can do, sometimes even better than teachers at school. 

The big thing here is to nurture curiosity and provide the space and time for them to explore and find things they want to learn about. 

Here I share 10 ways to cultivate creativity at home.

What scenario plays better in your head: an enthusiastic and creative kid who is missing a few facts, or the kid who memorized those facts but who says “I hate learning”?


SHOW & TELL: Homeschooling

In this week’s episode #4 of Show & Tell, David and I share our views on Homeschooling.

Homeschool allows kids to become themselves, but more so. The artistic kid can spend hours a day on art. The musical kid can spend hours on music. The Civil War lover can spend more than a couple of weeks every few years learning about the Civil War.

Among other things, we talk about:

  • The benefits of homeschooling and why this form of education is taking off

  • The top 3 myths around homeschooling (and debunk them)

  • Why the stigma around homeschooling is about to disappear

Subscribe to our YouTube Series: Show & Tell with Ana and David 🤸🏽‍♀️ 

We want to hear from you! What topic should David and I cover next? Just reply to this email with ideas :)

Until next week!

Ms Fab.