What is most important schooling or education?  When I reference this question to some of my colleagues, I am ridiculed for promoting an informal process in a very formal system of pre-school, kindergarten, grade school development, SAT, College.  The common belief is that any break from the "system" is a detriment to the student who is not learning to be a cog in the wheel.  I, however, feel this is flat wrong.

I am not promoting some loosy-goosey do what you want approach, as that accomplishes very little.  What I am suggesting is the system of schooling is secondary to the student's education.  What Papert and Kay are promoting is this idea that learning become a more exploratory adventure through the use of computer technology. It is no accident that Papert referenced Proteus as he sees the computer as an ever changing ocean, which as mentioned in a previous post, is "in line with Alan Kay’s view on the universality of the great possibilities that exist through the use of a computer’s simulation capabilities."  â€‹

Kay's idea that the computer can assist in understanding at a level deeper than formalized memorization speaks to this idea. "[C]hildren as young as two may not understand the numeric significance of a thing, but they certainly understand the quantitative implications of being 'short-changed' in the presence of another child" ( a recent post by Johnny Chapeton, he wrote that [m]ath teachers simply tell students how to “do math” instead of allowing them to explore, discover..."  ( Young children quickly deduce amounts, and even formulate enlightened ideas of fairness and equality with out ever "doing math."  This is the essence of learning.  



    • Siobhan Wilmot-Dunbar
      Siobhan Wilmot-Dunbar

      Hi Christopher, 

      I find your response interesting and I agree. Often anything that isn't necessarily the same as the strict traditional form of learning everyone is used to is given a negative connotation because it is assumed that students would not learn everything they need to learn. It's really about the process, though. As you mentioned, students need to explore and discover. In a recent talk by Alan Kay that I watched which Dr. Ardito shared on my blog post, he references Papert's intentions and how students can learn complex topics easier through discovery and activities, and actually understand the basic concept(s) before going deeper into the complexity--such as math concepts. The focus shouldn't be on curriculum coverage alone, but rather how the thinking of young children can be reframed for better understanding and learning outcomes.  

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