Eleven-year-olds running a classroom? That could sound outlandish to some elementary school teachers, but not to Joe Jamison, or “Mr. J” as he is affectionately called by his fifth-grade students. There is a feeling of excitement in the small classroom, decorated with inspirational quotes and bright educational paraphernalia. The kids sit at the edge of their seats, waiting in anticipation; they are eager to show their findings after spending an hour researching and putting together. This activity is part of Mr. J’s bi-weekly SOLE session, a freestyle learning period revolving around a topic, quote or question. SOLE, which stands for Self-Organized Learning Environment, is a concept drawn from 2013 TED Prize winner Sugata Mitra’s wish in which he offered up a new vision of education that combines the vast resources of the Internet with children’s innate sense of curiosity. The School in the Cloud, as he calls it, is a global experiment in self-organized learning. SOLEs let kids puzzle through big questions and ideas on their own, teaching each other in the process.
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