Although I found much of the article salutary in what it shows the kids can do, I would have liked more on Mr Papert and his life and legacy - creating LOGO might only be a small part of his life's achievements.
Back when dinosaurs ruled the Earth and I was a kid, I received the gift of a "100-in-1 Electronics Kit" that taught me the basics of electrical circuit design as I strung pre-cut wires between springy posts. At the very centre of this kit - its beating heart - a single transistor could be wired to work in an amplifier, or AM …
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I went and found the wikipedia article, which is good reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seymour_Papert?oldid=cur . Worth a read: I'll not put spoilers in.
I liked the article, as I enjoy reading how someone has inspired someone else to do stuff, but a link for more about Seymour's life wouldn't go amiss.
I have to say ... I haven't read it myself. But I remember a "Computer Recreations" article Scientific American by Dewdney discussing the failings of the perceptron. The idea of wanting to build a "box that lights a little light if you point it at a cat" just blew my mind.
(Update: It grabbed a copy from the SciAm store for a few dollars. This was a special issue on "Computer Software" and it has articles by Alan Kay, Niklaus Wirth, Lawrence Tesler, Peter Denning & Robert Brown, Terry Winograd, Andries van Dam, Michael lesk, Alfred Spector, Stephen Wolfram, Douglas Lenat. Damn!
It also discusses "inherently safe nuclear reactors", we are still not there. And is ad-laden to the point of unreadability ...)
An acquaintance's 11 year old son was recently enthusing about using the internet and was interested in electronics. After making sure his parents were not technophobes - I offered to give him an Arduino development kit from my large stock of parts. No tuition was being offered - basically he could learn by experiment and the internet. His father turned very frosty and declined in a way that suggested they now regarded me as some sort of predator.
With all the paranoia these days it is hard to see a return to the 1960s when young teenage boys went to Amateur Radio Clubs on their own. They were then educated by both amateur and professional electronics people - usually men. That's where I learned about electronics after my first dabblings at home - and passed on my knowledge to my peers as a founding member of a radio club at school.
The neighbours' kids are wowed by my Halloween SFX - but none of them seem interested in how it is done. Being Lego fanatics doesn't necessarily seem to be a step towards electronics and programming hobbies - even when they have an introduction to the subjects at school.
I grew up in the sixties and early seventies and my parents would have been very happy to have someone teaching me electronics. I learned sailing from some old guy in the apartment complex I lived in. Another guy taught all of us 12 and 13 year olds how to water ski if we paid for the gas.
I wouldn't dare try to do that with any kids nowadays.
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Papert believed "that children can learn to use computers in a masterful way and that learning to use computers can change the way they learn everything else. Even outside the classroom, Papert had a vision that the computer could be used just as casually and as personally for a diversity of purposes throughout a person's entire life. Seymour Papert makes the point that in classrooms saturated with technology there is actually more socialization and that the technology often contributes to greater interaction among students and among students and instructors."
from the article here ...
"The current generation of bright kids are teaching themselves, and teaching one another, using the Web for learning and sharing. Then they take what they’ve learned and apply it to the problems they see in the world, problems they absolutely believe they can solve with their own creativity."
Wouldn't it be great if we could now close down all the schools, now they're no longer needed because the only things they can teach there will be history before the current generation have any use for them. That and outdated propaganda** which is positively harmful in this 21st century ...
Read an article somewhere where the researchers left some kind of tablet computers in and around a basically illiterate /slum community, went back a month or so later, and found so many people had learned to read and a great deal more ...
**what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this: 'You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself — educating your own judgments. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being molded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.' "
— Doris Lessing (The Golden Notebook)
Universal education through schooling is not feasible. It would be no more feasible if it were attempted by means of alternative institutions built on the style of present schools. Neither new attitudes of teachers toward their pupils nor the proliferation of educational hardware or software (in classroom or bedroom), nor finally the attempt to expand the pedagogue's responsibility until it engulfs his pupils' lifetimes will deliver universal education. The current search for new educational funnels must be reversed into the search for their institutional inverse: educational webs which heighten the opportunity for each one to transform each moment of his living into one of learning, sharing, and caring. We hope to contribute concepts needed by those who conduct such counterfoil research on education--and also to those who seek alternatives to other established service industries. -- Ivan Illich
Society's problems arise directly out of educational systems ...
There was a sci-fi novel about people being educated at various stages of their life by an electronic transfer into their brains. It started with the ability to read - then went on to their career specialisation skills. They obtained jobs by public competitions to show off their skills.
Those who failed the pre-test for the reading transfer were not eligible - and were labelled "defectives". They were then educated slowly by being allowed to attend any schoolroom lessons that interested them.
The twist in the plot was that the "defectives" were actually being encouraged to be the inventors and innovators. Their transfer peers were on the scrapheap as soon as a new variant on their skills emerged - as they did not have the ability to learn something new.
The novel does not apparently get listed in a relevant Wikipedia article.
"Or would that kill the joy?" ... no, it would kill off the most important structural feature of current school systems - the teaching of obedience to authority, subservience, "knowing your place", etc. ...
If you want to see how badly schools prepare youth for "Real Life", just check out any set of curriculum documentation - the 2013 "UK" National Curriculum, for example -- you'll find it a depressing experience of backward time-travel ... an example of looking backwards, not forwards :-(
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