“Stilo?! Stilo?! Madame, stilo s’il vous plait?!”
This is the cry that will greet me for the next couple of weeks during my stay at a retreat where I will increase my abilities as a Pilates teacher, as well as enjoying the delights of a fairly remote Berber village some 45 minutes distance south of Marrakech.
It was my nephew’s 17th birthday this week, and this is the first year since he was born that an annual ritual remains unfulfilled.
The day after Sam was born, I laid him on a piece of paper, and drew round his fledgling form. Every year after that, either on or close to his birthday, we repeated this ceremony, needing a larger and larger piece of paper as he grew into the young man who is now old enough to try for a driving licence.
There is a school of thought which says that if you can create the right conditions, children are able to take care of their own learning and development.
You may be aware of Dr Sugata Mitra’s project, “Hole in the Wall”.
In 1999, whilst working teaching people how to write computer programmes in New Delhi, he dug a hole in a wall bordering the urban slum next to his office, installed an Internet-connected PC, at child height, and left it there (with a hidden camera filming the area). The children from the slum learned how to use it (with no adult intervention) and how to go online - teaching themselves some English in the process - and then they taught each other.