Nicholas Negroponte and One Laptop Per Child
Nicholas Negroponte is out to change the world by giving laptops to kids in remote places.
People used to tell Nicholas Negroponte his dream of a hundred-dollar laptop would never work. Today, hundred dollar laptops are changing the lives of children and adults in third world countries all over the planet.
Computers exert a powerful fascination for kids of all ages, but not very many six-year-olds get handed their very own laptop in first grade. That is changing, thanks to visionary computer scientist Nicholas Negroponte, the co-founder of the MIT Media Lab and founder and chairman of One Laptop Per Child, a non-profit association.
His $100 laptop, the so-called "XO" was designed to get computers into the hands of third-world kids. In places without running water, electricity, or nearby internet connections, this can often be a challenge.
Negroponte feels that in their hands, it has the power to change the world. He says it is not because he has a lot of faith in computers, but "I have a lot of faith in children and what they are able to do and the passion with which they get engaged. What you are really doing when you provide a child a window into knowledge and collaboration with other children, is that you are really creating the passion for learning.
"Very often, children who arrive in first grade have big, wide eyes and they are curious. They are like sponges; they want to absorb something. And then, by the third or fourth grade, their eyes are down and they can't wait for the bell to ring and get out of there, because school's no fun, and in some cases, irrelevant."
More than making school more fun, Negroponte suggests that computers help kids learn to learn, or think about thinking. Truancy often drops to zero, parents become more involved in their children's education, and the teachers have the best time teaching.
"The real surprise, and the real value that One Laptop Per Child provides is manifest in the energy in the classroom, and then the kids go home, and all of the rest of the hours in the day that they may want to use are part of learning."
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