I’m sharing some of my favorite quotes below.
“It is usually considered good practice to give people instruction in their occupational activities. Now, the occupational activities of children are learning, thinking, playing and the like. Yet, we tell them nothing about those things. Instead, we tell them about numbers, grammar, and the French revolution; somehow hoping that from this disorder the really important things will emerge all by themselves.” — Seymour Papert in Teaching Children Thinking.
“It is possible to maintain a vision of a technologically oriented educational system which is grander than the current one in which new gadgets are used to teach the old material in a thinly disguised old way.” — Seymour Papert in Teaching Children Thinking.
“Papert coins the term cyberostriches to refer to parents who’d rather not deal with the sweeping changes in communication technologies: “I am worried about the psychological and spiritual consequences of children becoming more independent of their parents in their exploration of the world and it will be far more likely to happen for the worse if parents act like cyberostriches, putting their heads in the sand in denial of the changes in the learning environment.” — Robin Raskin in Computing’s Idealist, Family PC. (HT: Daily Papert).
“Liberating Mathematics from Math! … consider the opinion of Steve Pinker about why language is easier to learn learn than mathematics:
On evolutionary grounds it would be surprising if children were mentally equipped for school mathematics. These tools were invented recently in history and in only a few cultures, too late and too local to stamp the human genome.
Stated simplistically, Pinker’s Chomskian position is that language learning has become innate because language is old enough to influence the emergence of genes that support it, whereas algebra has not been around long enough. I propose an alternative theory which allows a more constructive role for learning sciences: Language did not stamp the genome, the genome stamped language. Language molded itself, as it developed, to genetic tools already there. The reason algebra is less well aligned with genetic tools is that it was not allowed to align itself: it was made by mathematicians for their own purposes while language developed without the intervention of linguists.” — Seymour Papert in Afterword: After How Comes What.
“So I imagine the learning environment of the future as we’ve given up the idea of there being curriculum that says you have to learn this at the seventh of May in your eighth year. We’ve given up the age segregation which is just as, I think, wrong and harmful as any other kind of segregation. It’s just as bad to segregate the seven-year-olds from the eight-year-olds, the eight-year-olds from the nine-year-olds, as it was to segregate people by color, religion, or whatever. That will go away. Kids will work in communities of common interest on rich projects that will connect with powerful ideas. — Seymour Papert in Project-Based Learning.
“Across the globe there is a love affair between children and the digital technologies. They love the computers, they love the phones, they love the game machines, and – most relevantly here – their love translates into a willingness to do a prodigious quantity of learning. The idea that this love might be mobilized in the service of the goals of educators has escaped no one. Unfortunately, it is so tempting that great energy and money has been poured into doing it in superficial and self-defeating ways – such as trying to trick children into learning what they have rejected by embedding it in a game. Nobody is fooled. The goal should not be to sugar coat the math they hate but offer them a math they can love.” — Seymour Papert in Afterword: After How Comes What.
“… one of my favorite little analogies: If I wanted to become a better carpenter, I’d go find a good carpenter, and I’ll work with this carpenter on doing carpentry or making things. And that’s how I’ll get to be a better carpenter. So if I want to be a better learner, I’ll go find somebody who’s a good learner and with this person do some learning. But this is the opposite of what we do in our schools. We don’t allow the teacher to do any learning. We don’t allow the kids to have the experience of learning with the teacher because that’s incompatible with the concept of the curriculum where what is being taught is what’s already known.” — Seymour Papert in Project-Based Learning.
“Many children are held back in their learning because they have a model of learning in which you have either ‘got it’ or ‘got it wrong.’ But when you program a computer you almost never get it right the first time. Learning to be a master programmer is learning to become highly skilled at isolating and correcting bugs … The question to ask about the program is not whether it is right or wrong, but if it is fixable. If this way of looking at intellectual products were generalized to how the larger culture thinks about knowledge and its acquisition we might all be less intimidated by our fears of ‘being wrong.’” — Seymour Papert in Mindstorms: Children, Computers, And Powerful Ideas. (HT: Daily Papert).
What inspires you from Seymour Papert’s ideas and work?