Educating young monks.

29 March, 2011 (17:01) | Games, Life | By: Olivier

Today, I was supposed to teach English to young monks.

Young monks huddled in prayer?..

But we quickly found a much more interesting subject matter…

...or trying to beat the hi score at Doodle Jump?

Our Doodle Jump champion for the day!

Our champion of the day!

A couple of observations:

– I was struck by how easily the young monks shared the game. Doodle Jump is addictive and it is very tempting to try “just one more time”. But they would naturally pass the device around without being asked. I’m willing to bet the behavior in a French primary school would be quite different! I attribute the cultural difference to the constant social reinforcement on collaboration, most notably through legends such as the Four Harmonious friends (Thuenpa Puen Shi).

The Four Harmonious Friends

It goes like this: “There were once four friends, an elephant, a monkey, a peacock and a rabbit who wished to have a constant supply of the fruit they all loved to eat. After some deliberation, they decided that through cooperation they could achieve this. So, the peacock found the seed and planted it in the ground. The rabbit then watered it and the monkey fertilized it. The elephant, being the largest of the four guarded it day and night. The seed germinated and grew and grew until it became a mature tree and produced the longed for fruit. When it was ripe, none of the animals could reach up to harvest it, so they made a tower by climbing on each other’s backs; first the elephant, then the monkey, the rabbit and finally the peacock. Through their friendship and cooperation the four were able to share in their favorite fruit.”

– Some of the monks had their own cellphones. Although nothing as fancy as iPhones (yet), they would still watch short music videos on it and I suddenly realized how profoundly mobile internet will change the world. As in many poor countries, access to knowledge has historically been very difficult in the remote kingdom of Bhutan. Getting up-to-date manuals and good teachers in the country is expensive and hard. Today they struggle to find teachers. Tomorrow they’ll have access to Khan’s Academy, Wikipedia and many other sources of useful knowledge. Even if only 0.01% take advantage of it, it will impact society massively. We should push hard to give internet access everywhere.

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