Saturday, June 16, 2007

Quintessential Quote: I saw, I make

I get an awaking every time I come back from Africa. We should appreciate things we take for granted everyday; running water, reliable electricity or even getting Movies On Demand from Comcast. An African Cheetah I met at TED, which I'm helping sponsoring his education spoke at TED about his electric windmill.

William Kamkwamba was 14 when he picked up an old donated Science textbook from the states, which showed how to make a electric windmill. His small town in Malawi where he grew up didn't have much electricity, William was able to build from scratch a windmill out of scrapes wood, and corrugated aluminum shingles. On stage at TED Chris Anderson the Curator of TED asked William how he got the idea for this windmill. His response, "I saw, I make". This is a remarkable African ingenuity story, in any case William is quite lucky that he was profiled in a magazine and was able to come to TED.

Africa has many William's, ingenuity has always been ingrained in Africans DNA. We sometimes need what Malcolm Gladwell would call, a Tipping Point. In William's case that Tipping point was an old discarded textbook from the states that was considered expired! I can't wait till MIT's Nicholas Negroponte launches his One Laptop Per Child (OLPC). What if this computer had an elearning science/technology model that showed students how to make small simple devices/gadgets into everyday uses?

Africa needs a lot right now, in terms of education I think we need to really change our curriculum to a more of an entrepreneur fun model. This curriculum should allow risk-taking and thought-provoking learning. As soon as we figure ICT infrastructure costs the OLPC will still be nothing but a machine that awesome tasks without the ability to connect to the global Internet.

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