seymour papert

seymour papert bw

first encounter – was with the words:

find the curriculum quote

3 min in – give up the idea of curriculum – meaning you’re going to live this on a given day, instead, learn it when/where you need it

4 min in – love Erin – this is my classroom now…

8 min in – standardization is a guarantee of no standards… the standard i’d like to see is: thinking differently

9 min – just imagine – if from the beginning, kids are learning from what they cared about..

and we started thinking – project based learning – or independent study – to the x.


Seymour’s hugely resonating – insightful take on literacy.. ness…

The facetious old turn of phrase that identifies schooling with the three Rs — reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic — may express the most obstinate block to change in education. The central role of these “basics” is never discussed; it is considered obvious.


find/follow his work here:

papert site

Gary Stager is a great resource..


gary stager on curric

Gary is against “bad” curriculum like the examples above. No, I oppose all of it. Curriculum is the arrogant folly of adults who don’t know the children who will play cholesterol scooter soccer, yet are self-ordained to prescribe what those students should know and when they should know it. Curriculum is the weapon of choice for ranking, sorting and labeling children. It is indifferent to individual needs, talents or desires. Worst of all, curriculum creates an impermeable barrier between teacher and student. Without curriculum, failure would more difficult as would the assorted pathologies of discipline problems, drop-out rates and violence that plague too many schools.


tuesday, june 14, 2011

seymour papert

bravo – and spot on to Seymour and Alan..

in my ignorance, flavored with kids’ insight and experiences… and my love for mathematics.. i think aloud – boldly…

is not mathland life?
is that not why we deem PISA so heavily.. our instincts tell us how mathematics is a universal language

(as i believe all languages are becoming moreso – kids craving more foreign language acquisition as they are becoming more global whether they travel physically or not, ie: frenchland is dispersing as well)

– yet

our busyness and drive to compete and improve and measure, keeps us from the essence of that universality. we are indeed measuring success per math not per mathematics, not per mathematical thinking. that is such a huge difference. success is defined, and hence, progress is achieved or more often not achieved, on completely different levels.
in my perception, that is why change hasn’t happened since dewey and emmerson and all the other greats have written about self-directed, learner-owned learning. we are mentally, emotionally, … blinded to that difference. it’s as if it’s so huge and so small all at once. because the words we choose to talk about a PISA-type success resonate with that instinct toward mathematically thinking, (and yet are indeed math), we succumb to the allure.

and because, so it seems, that will never get us to self-directed ownership, we continue in this perpetual frinzy of searching for the golden key.. the bullet answer.

when the answer is.. the answers are everywhere. the answers are in everyone. the answer is there is no one answer. nothing is for everyone. most answers today swim in inaccuracy.

if we’re wanting to sustain in life, to thrive in life, the answers, or more accurately, the questions, have got to be found in a person.
Papert again – find the curriculum in each child.

so yeah – creating a mathland is certainly helping some.. but i’m wondering.. what if we used less of our resources to create a mathland, and freed up more of our valuable resources, the minds of youth, everywhere, to notice more.

trusting that learning and mathematical thinking and french are so huge that they will show up, is the first step in the change we seek.
trust that, if they are vital to us, meaningful to us, they will show up.
trust that.
notice that.
notice them.
notice the unlikely.
let’s take a deep breath and start providing more free spaces for people to notice more.

we will be blown away by the results..

if …

we can endure the very likely bouts of perceived waste/laziness/chaos as we detoxify old patterns of thinking/doing/being.


via papert – someday-monday-ness

you gotta do both worlds – show up monday.. but what you do on monday needs to be focused on someday..


post on ed scaling – via postman, asimov, papert,..


educe to draw out graphic


Papert and coding.. posted on fb via Audrey..

papert on coding

The reference to ‘Eastasia’ is from the book ‘1984’ by George Orwell. The excerpt from Papert is, as it says right above the quote, from ‘What’s the Big Idea’, in 2000.



book links to amazon


p. vi: the differential gear – i found particular pleasure in such systems as the differential gear, which does not follow a simple linear chain of causality since the motion in the transmission shaft can be distributed in many different ways to the two wheels depending on what resistance they encounter. i remember quite vividly my excitement at discovering that a system could be lawful and completely comprehensible without being rigidly deterministic.

p. viii: creating the conditions (spaces of permission ness) under which intellectual models will take root. for the last two decades this is what i have been trying to do. and in doing so i find myself frequently reminded of several aspects of my encounter with the differential gear:

  1. no one told me to learn it
  2. there was feeling, love, as well as understanding
  3. effects of the encounter was not measurable

a modern day montessori might propose if convinced by my story, to create a gear set for children. thus every child might have the experience i had. but to hope for this would be to miss the essence of the story. i fell in love with the gears. this is something that cannot be reduced to purely “cognitive” terms.

p. 4: in my vision, space-age objects, in the form of small computers, will cross these cultural barriers to enter the private worlds of children everywhere. they will do so not as mere physical objects.

c dot app story ness

p. 5: there is a world of difference between what computers can do and what society will choose to do with them.

p. 6: programming a computer means nothing more or less than communicating to it in a language that it and the human user can both “understand.” and learning languages is one of the things children do best. every normal child learns to talk. why then should a child not learn to “talk” to a computer?

p. 7: i take from jean piaget a model of children as builders of their own intellectual structures. children seem to be innately gifted learners, acquiring long before they go to school a vast quantity of knowledge by a process i call “piagetian learning,” or”learning without being taught.”

p. 8 – cultural toxins –  the popular theories of aptitudes, to contaminate peoples’ images of themselves as learners. difficulty with school math is often the first step of an invasive intellectual process that leads us all to define ourselves as bundles of aptitudes and ineptitudes, as being “mathematical” or “not mathematical” “artistic” or “not artistic” “musical” or “not musical” “profound” or “superficial” “intelligent” or “dumb.” thus deficiency becomes identity  and learning is transformed from the early child’s free exploration of their world to a chore beset by insecurities and self-imposed restrictions.

for people in the teaching professions, the word”education” tends to evoke”teaching” particularly classroom teaching. the goal of education research tends therefore to be focused on how to improve classroom teaching. but if, as i have stressed here, the model of successful learning is the way a child learns to talk, a process that takes place without deliberate and organized teaching, the goal set is very different. i see the classroom as an artificial and inefficient learning environment ..

p. 19: the child, even at preschool ages, i sin control. the child programs the computer. (rushkoff, schank) and in teaching the computer how to think, children embark on an exploration about how they themselves think. the experience can be heady: thinking about thinking turns the child into an epistemologist, and experience not even shared by most adults.

p. 21: when a child learns to program, the process of learning is transformed. it becomes more active and self-directed. 

p. 31: i believe that the computer as writing instrument offers children an opportunity to become more like adults, in deed like advanced professionals, in their relationship to their intellectual products and to themselves. in doing so, it comes into head-on collision with the many aspects of school whose effect, if not whose intention, is to “infantilize” the child.

i see piaget as the theorist of learning without curriculum and the theorist of the kind of learning that happens without deliberate teaching.

compulsory ness – usefully ignorant – usefully preoccupied

p. 33: we are in the process of digging ourselves into an anachronism by preserving practices that have no rational basis beyond their historical roots in an earlier period of technological and theoretical development.

p. 37: we are at a point in the history of education (1980) when radical change is possible, and the possibility of that change is directly tied to the impact of the computer.

or now.. simply to the web with a device

conservatism in the world of education has become a self-perpetuating social phenomenon.

fortunately, there is a weak link in the vicious circle. increasingly, the computers of the very near future will be the private property of individuals (quiet revolution) and this will gradually return to the individual the power to determine patterns of education.. (self-organising)

p. 39: so in this book – i try to show how the computer presence can bring children into a more humanistic as well as a more humane relationship with mathematics. in doing so i shal have to go beyond discussion of mathematics. i shall have to develop a new perspective on the process of learning itself.

detox ness

p. 40 – children begin their lives as eager and competent learners. they have to learn to have trouble with learning in general and mathematics in particular.

p. 41 – *people have lived with children for a long time. the fact that we had to wait for Piaget (and still in 2010s not listening) to tell us how children think and what we all forget about our thinking as children is so remarkable that it suggests a freudian model of “cognitive repression.”

p. 42: i have called piagetian learning, a learning process that has many feature the schools should envy: it is effective (all the children get there), it is inexpensive (it seems to require neither teacher nor curriculum development) and it is humane (the children seem to do it in a carefree spirit without explicit external rewards and punishments).

p. 44 – the invention of the automobile and the airplane did not come from a detailed study of how their predecessors, such as horse-drawn carriages, worked or did not work. yet, this is the model for contemporary educational research. the standard paradigms for education research take the existing classroom or extracurricular culture as the primary object of study. 

but the real question, one might say, is whether we can invent the – educational automobile.  since this question (the central them of this book) has not been addressed by education al psychology, we must conclude that the “scientific” basis for beliefs about aptitudes is really very shaky. but these beliefs are institutionalized in schools in testing system, and in college admissions criteria and consequently, their social basis is as firm as their scientific basis is weak.

p. 46 – ref to – school math – as route to advanced math..

p. 50 – i have asked many teachers and parents what they thought mathematics to be and why it was important to learn it. few held a view of mathematics that was sufficiently coherent to justify devoting several thousand hours of a child’s life to learning it, and children sense this. when a teacher tells a student that the reason for those many hours of arithmetic is to be able to check the change at the supermarket, the teacher is simply not believed. children see such “reasons” as one more example of adult doulbe talk. the same effect is produce when children are told school math is “fun” .. when 

all of this erodes children’s confidence in the adult world and the process of education. and i think it introduces a deep element of dishonesty into the education relationship.

and it goes beyond making change.. balancing a checkbook – to kids who don’t see the value of the economy system we tout… to telling them over and over.. they need to learn it just in case..

p. 52 – mathetics is the set of guiding principles that govern learning.


p. 60 – turtle geometry –  one does not need a computer to draw a triangle or a square. pencil and paper would do. but once these programs have been constructed they become building blocks that enable a child to create hierarchies of knowledge.

p. 61 – the process of debugging is a normal part of the process of understanding a program. the programmer is encouraged to study the  bug rather than forget the error.

art – ist style..

p. 62 – the learner sees progress, and also sees that things are not often either completely right or completely wrong but, rather, are on a continuum. the house is better but still has a bug…..

Bret ness…

p. 65 – he failed to learn because he forced himself out of any relationship to the material – or rather, he adopted the worst relationship, dissociation, as a strategy for learning.  [a fifth grade boy described the way to learn multiplication tables in school: you learn stuff like that by making your mind a blank and saying it over and over until you know it.]

the difference between what he “could” and “could not” learn did not depend on the content of the knowledge but on his relationship to it.

great turtle stuff – but even with that – math is not a necessity – prior to it showing up. we aren’t responsible for crafting an environment that gets people turned on to math (whatever your definition of math is – ie: p. 74’s 5+x=8. nice to make that more relevant. better to make it optional. no?)

p. 76 – for what is important when we give children a theorem to use is not that they should memorize it. what matters most is that by growing up with a few very powerful theorems one comes to appreciate how certain ideas can be used as tools to think with over a lifetime. one learns to enjoy and to respect the power of powerful ideas. on e learns that the most powerful idea of all is the idea of powerful ideas.

77-94 – flowers and flocks of birds – great – better that what we have (esp then) – so great resource – if chosen. (ie: many aren’t currently turned on to that – unless it’s the lesser of two mandated choices – spinach or rock ness)

p. 96 – the central theme of this chapter (ch 4) is the development of descriptive languages for talking about learning.

p. 99 – using calculus to describe juggling or how a centipede walks would indeed be confusing. attempts to use such descriptions in learning physical skills very likely would leave the learner lying with feverish mind in the nearest ditch.

indeed – much like Gabe. and many others – who are free to be honest – as to whether they are really into it or just people pleasing with their choice of spinach.. et al. this is where – in the cityas the day ness – allows for (and frees more people up to) just in time cross generational expertise.. to be the formality. ie: connecting to a live person that you want to be – talking the language you want to learn.

p. 104 – the “right way” was not imposed on keith; the computer gave him enough flexibility and power so that his exploration could be genuine and his own. [in not trusting 100% – i think we do become the centipede. like jsb’s watching surfers.. nothing imposed.]

p. 110 – how can this model that turned juggling into a people procedure be applied as a teaching strategy?

spot on (or off) – modeling is the strategy. the strategy to deliberately not teach.. ie: simply be alive.

today – tech can connect us (shortening time between intention and action – for 7 billion people) so that – be alive.. do your thing ness – is enough. trust the interconnectedness that already is. what if our problem of teaching/education/et al – is that we don’t have enough alive people doing/being their thing. so that fittingness is hardly visible let along contagious.. so – we keep working on being more efficient with motivators/personalizers/gamifiers..

today – we can do that with a city… no? we can give ourselves space/time back – to breathe. to just be. and learn from that.

p. 114 – great stuff about debugging – and ie:

it is easy to empathize. the ethic of school has rubbed off too well. what we see as a good program with a small bug, the child sees as wrong,” “bad,” “a mistake.” school teaches that errors are bad; the last thing one wants to do is pore over them, dwell on them, or think about them. the child is glad to take advantage of the computer’s ability to erase it all without any trace for anyone to see. the debugging philosophy suggests an opposite attitude. errors benefit us because they lead us to study what happened, to understand what went wrong, and through understanding, to fix it. experience with computer programming leads children more effectively than any other activity to “believe in” debugging.

true. perhaps prior to now. so the computer can be a placebo/detox for us. but it’s not that we need it if we are simply freed to be the creatures we already are. meaning – this debugging process – isn’t it natural? isn’t what this computer might do for a kid now (as written by Papert and many others – part of detox needed to get us out of our manmade constructs/mindsets?) – so aren’t we making this more difficult/directed than it needs to be.

p. 115 – where was the bug – as the puzzled together the child had a revelation: “do you mean,” he said, “that you really don’t know how to fix it?” the child did not yet know how to say it, but what had been revealed to him was that he and the teacher had been engaged together in a research project. the incident is poignant. it speaks of all the times this child entered into teachers’ games of “let’s do that together” all the while knowing that the collaboration was a fiction. discovery cannot be a setup; invention cannot be scheduled.

in traditional schoolrooms, teachers do try to work collaboratively with children, but usually the material itself doesn not spontaneously generate research problems. can an adult and a child genuinely collaborate on elementary school arithmetic? .. [..] new situations that neither teacher no learner has seen before come up frequently and so the teacher does not have to pretend not to know.

exactly. nice. not so much about an ability to be listening even – like to follow a cue a kid may give – but rather – to be authentically in life as to be usefully ignorant in the vulnerability in context. ie: so let’s get out of the classroom/cc/agenda ness – because best yet – are people who are usefully preoccupied. (and we’re taught to never say i don’t know)

p. 120 – in this chapter (5) we focus on two important mathetic principles that are part of most people’s common sense knowledge about what to do when confronted with a new gadget, a new dance step, a new idea, or a new word. first, relate what is new and to be learned to something you already know. second, take what is new and make it your own: make something new with it, play with it, build with it.

p. 122 – most physics curricula are similar to the math curriculum in that they force the learner into dissociated learning patterns and defer the “interesting” material past the point where most students can remain motivated enough to learn it. the powerful ideas and the intellectual aesthetic of physics is lost in the perpetual learning of “prerequisites.

p. 123 – it seems fair to assume that a list of prereqs is an expression of what educators believe to be a learning path into a domain of knowledge. the learning path into aerodynamics is mathematical, and , as we have seen in our culture, mathematical knowledge is bracketed, treated as “special” – spoken of only in special places reserved for such esoteric knowledge. the nonacademic learning environments of most children provide little impetus to that mathematical development. this means that schools and colleges must approach the knowledge of aerodynamics along exceedingly formal learning paths. the route into shakespeare is no less complex, but its essential constitutive elements are part of our general culture: it is assumed that many people will be able to learn them informally the physics microworld we shall develop, the physics analog of our computer[based Mathland, offers a Piagetian learning path into Newtonian laws of motion, a topic usually considered paradigmatic of the kind of knowledge that can only be reached by a long, formalized learning path.

in the absence of direct and physical experiences of newtonian motion, the schools are forced to give the student indirect and highly mathematical experiences of newtonian objects. there movement is learned by manipulating equations rather than manipulating the objects themselves.

so – we’re assuming this is essential.. physics, et al. and – we’re assuming it doesn’t show up in a full life – where curiosity is alive and freely facilitated.

p. 125 – the third prerequisite is that we must find way s to facilitate the personal appropriation not only of newtonian motion and the laws that describe it, but also of the general notion of laws that describe motion. we do this be designing a series of microworlds.

dang – help. i really don’t see this as essential. and if it is – it will show up  – when we save ourselves the time of designing and the coercing people into these spaces/worlds/agendas.

the turtle world was a microworld, a “place,” a”province of Mathland,” where certain kinds of mathematical thinking could hatch and grow with particular ease. the microworld was an incubator. now we shall design a microworld to serve as an incubator for newtonian physics. the design of the microworld makes it a “growing place” for a specific species of powerful ideas or intellectual structures. so, we design microworlds that exemplify not only the “correct” newtonian ideas, but many others as well: the historically and psychologically important Aristotelian ones, the more complex Einsteinian ones, and even a “generalized law-of-motion world.” that acts as a framework for an infinite variety of laws of motion that individuals can invent for themselves. thus learners can progress from aristotle to newton and even to einstein via as many intermediate worlds as they wish. in the descriptions that follow, the mathetic obstacles to newton are overcome: the prereqs are rooted in personal knowledge and the learner is involved in a creative exploration of the idea and the variety of laws of motion.

whoa. so perhaps why the insight (ie: that curriculum must come from within each child) hasn’t yet transformed the world. we haven’t yet unleashed 7 billion people with no agenda, no raised eyebrow. we haven’t yet believed in stigmerginess, in self-organizing ness working. today – ones who have had the luxury of that freedom – are doing/being beyond what we’d hope for with these crafted microworlds. because they are crafting their own.. incubators/anechoic chambers..

i don’t know..?

 p. 139 – the use of the computer to create opportunities for the exercise of qualitative thinking is very different from the use of computers that has become standard in high school physics courses. there it is used to reinforce the quantitative side of physics by allowing ore complex calculations. thus it shares some of the paradox we have already noted in the use of  new technologies to reinforce educational methods whose very existence is a reflection of the limitations of the precomputer period. as previously mentioned, the need for drill and practice in arithmetic is a symptom of the absence of conditions for the syntonic learning of mathematics. the proper use of computers is to supply such conditions. ..

or – let us get back into real life..

..when computers are used to cure the immediate symptom of poor scores in arithmetic, they reinforce habits of dissociated learning. and these habits which extend into many areas of life are a much more serious problem than weakness in arithmetic. the cure may be worse than the disease.

exactly. a qr film ness. we need to trust in iwan baan ness vision. ie: who cares if we get physics – if wars/suicide destroy us.

p. 144 – of course, my interest in recognizing the existence of these informally learned, powerful intuitive ideas is not to remove them from the scope of piagetian learning and place them in a curriculum: there are other ways to facilitate their acquisition. by recognizing their existence we should be able to create conditions that will foster their development, and we certainly can do a lot to remove obstacle that block them in many traditional learning environments.

why do we need to create.. conditions…? rather than free us up to see/hear/be them.

p. 145 – the computer allows, or obliges, the child to externalize intuitive expectations. when the intuition is translated into a program it becomes more obtrusive and more accessible to reflections.

p. 154 – but why don’t children learn a procedural approach from daily life? everyone works with procedures in everyday life. playing a game or giving directions to a lost motorist are exercises in procedural thinking. but in everyday life procedures are lived and used, they are no necessarily reflected on. in the logo environment, a procedure becomes a thing that is named, manipulated, and recognized as the children come to acquire the idea of procedure. the effect of this for someone like Ken is that everyday-life experience of procedures and programming now becomes a resource for doing formal arithmetic in school.

so what if we don’t need a resource for formal arithmetic in school. and what if that gives us back time in the day to reflect… on authentic every day happenings/procedures. no more fabricated ones…? maybe.

p. 156 – in this chapter (7) i will present a piaget very different from the one most people have come to expect. there will be no talk of stages, no emphasis on what children at certain ages can or cannot learn to do.

i thin these epistemological aspects of piaget’s thought have been underplayed because up until now they offered no possibilities for action in the world of traditional education.

p. 159 – the bicycle without a rider balances perfectly well. with a novice rider ti will fall. this is because the novice has the wrong intuitions about balancing and frees the position of the bicycle so that its own corrective mechanism cannot work freely. thus learning to ride does not mean learn ing to balance, it means learning not to unbalance, learning not to interfere.

p. 160 – this school (bourbaki) had no intention of making a theory of learning. they intended their structural analysis to be a technical tool for mathematicians to use in their day-to-day work. but the theory of mother structures is a theory of learning.

p. 170 – the theme of this book has been the idea of exploiting this special role by giving children access to computational cultures. if, and only if, these have the right structure they may greatly enhance children’s ability to represent the structures-in-place in ways that will mobilize their conceptual potential.

p. 171 – the important question is not whether the brain or the computer is discrete but whether knowledge is modularizable

out commitment to communication i snot only expressed through our commitment to modularization, which facilitates it, but through our attempt to find a language for such domains as physics and mathematics, which have as their essen communication between constructed entities.

p. 172 – the discrepancy between an our experience of ourselves and our idealization of knowledge has an effect: it intimidates us, it lessens the sense o four own competence, and it leads us into counterproductive strategies for learning and thinking.

although powerful ideas have the capacity to help us organize our way of thinking about a particular class of problems (such as physics problems), we don’t have to reorganize ourselves in order to use them. we put our skills and heuristic strategies into a kind of tool box – – and while their interaction can, in the course of time, give rise to global changes, the act of learning is itself a local event.

p. 173 – the process reminds one of tinkering; learning consists of building up a set of materials and tools that one can handle and manipulate. perhaps most central of all, it is a process of working with what you’ve got. [..] .. but here i suggest that working with what you’ve got is a shorthand for deeper, even unconscious learning processes.

p. 177 – the suggestion that there might come a day when schools no longer exist elicits strong response from many people. there are many obstacles to thinking clearly about a world without schools. some are highly personal. most of us spent a larger fraction of our lives going to school that we care to think about. for example. i am over 50 (published in 1980) and yet the number of my postschool years has barely caught up with my preschool and school years. the concept of a world without school is highly dissonant with out experiences of our own lives. other obstacles are more conceptual. on cannot define such a world negatively, that is by simply removing school and putting nothing in its place. doing so leaves a thought vacuum that the mind has to fill one way or another, often with vague but scary images of children “running wild,” “drugging themselves.,” or “making life impossible for their parents.” thinking seriously about  a world without schools calls for elaborated models of the nonschool activities in which children would engage.

for me, collecting such models has become an important part of thinking about the future of children.

p. 179 – John Dewey expressed a nostalgia for earlier societies where the child becomes a hunter by real participation and by playful imitation.

Peter Gray

the logo teacher will answer questions, provide help if asked, and sometimes sit down next to a student and say: “let me show you something.” what is shown is not dictated by a set syllabus. sometimes it is something the student can use for an immediate project. sometimes it is something that the teacher has recently learned and thinks the student would enjoy. sometimes the teacher is simply acting spontaneously as people do in all unstructured social situations when they are excited about what they are doing.

usefully preoccupied et al

p. 181 – the samba school has rich connections with a popular culture. the knowledge being learned there is continuous with that culture. the log environments are artificially maintained oases where people encounter knowledge (mathematical and mathetic) that has been separated from the mainstream of the surrounding culture, indeed which is even in some opposition to values expressed in that surrounding culture. when i ask myself whether this can change, i remind myself o f the social nature of the question by remembering that the samba school was not designed by researchers, funded by grants, nor implemented by govt action. it was not made. it happened. this must be true too of any new successful forms of associations for learning that might emerge out of the mathetic computer culture. powerful new social forms must have their roots in the culture, not be the creature of bureaucrats.

there is an increasing disillusion with traditional education some people express this by extreme action, actually withdrawing their children from schools and choosing to educate them at home. for most, there is simply the gnawing sense that schools simply aren’t doing the job anymore.

p. 183 – will the develop pressure to withdraw from traditional school? how will local schools try to adapt to the new pressure on them? but as an educational utopian i want something else. i want to know what kind of computer culture can grow in communities where there is not already a rich technophilic soil. i want to know and i want to help make it happen.

and if the problem is cultural the remedy must be cultural.

the research challenge is clear. we need to advance the art of meshing computers with cultures so that they can serve to unite, hopefully without homogenizing, the fragmented subcultures that coexist counterproductively in contemporary society. for example, the gulf must be bridged between the technical-scientific and humanistic cultures. and i think that they key to constructing this bridge will be learning how to recast powerful ideas in computational from, ideas that are as important to the poet as to the engineer.

ni – re\wire ness


What’s different here is that Minecraft connects this lure to the objective not of beating the game, but making more of the game.

“Game” doesn’t even do it justice. What we’re really talking about here is a generative, networked system laced throughout with secrets.

I’m not a huge Minecraft player myself—my shelter never grew beyond the rough-hewn Robinson Crusoe stage—but I look at those books and, I tell you: I am eight years old again. I feel afresh all the impulses that led me towards books and writing, toward the fantastic and science-fictional… except now, there is this other door.

It’s made of blocks, I suppose.

“A generative, networked system laced throughout with secrets.”


posted by Gary on twitter (links to pdf):

papert paper


wikipedia small

Papert worked on learning theories, and is known for focusing on the impact of new technologies on learning in general, and in schools as learning organizations in particular.


At MIT, Papert went on to create the Epistemology and Learning Research Group at the MIT Architecture Machine Group which later became the MIT Media Lab. Here, he was the developer of a theory on learning called constructionism, built upon the work of Jean Piaget in Constructivism learning theories. Papert had worked with Jean Piaget at the University of Geneva from 1958 to 1963 and is one of Piaget’s protégés; Piaget himself once said that “no one understands my ideas as well as Papert”. Papert has rethought how schools should work, based on these theories of learning.

Papert used Piaget’s work in his development of the Logo programming language while at MIT. He created Logo as a tool to improve the way that children think and solve the problems. A small mobile robot called the “Logo Turtle” was developed, and children were shown how to use it to solve simple problems in an environment of play. A main purpose of the Logo Foundation research group is to strengthen the ability to learn knowledge. Papert insists a simple language or program that children can learn—like Logo—can also have advanced functionality for expert users.

Other work

As part of his work with technology, Papert has been a proponent of the Knowledge Machine. He was one of the principals for the One Laptop Per Child initiative to manufacture and distribute The Children’s Machine in developing nations.

Papert has also collaborated with Lego on their Logo-programmable Lego Mindstorms robotics kits.

was married to Sherry Turkle

wrote much with Idit. Idit and Mitch Resnick were both doctoral students of his.

worked closely with Piaget, Kay, Negropante, … disagreed constructively with Brown


first heard this full quote via Mike Wesch‘s intro to connected courses 2014:

Why We Need A “Why?”

computer quote from papert


everyone likes hard challenging things to do.


Seymour Papert:  Only one 21st C skill-people who know how to act when faced with situations for which… not specifically prepared #dwfhs

Original Tweet:


Papert talk 1990

What gives me confidence in the likelihood of significant educational change is the possibility of broad and unlikely seeming alliances between movements as diverse as progressive education, feminist, “Africanis” and other radical challenges to traditional epistemologies, and trends towards putting more emphasis on distributed, decentralized forms of computation. I believe that on a global scale, political winds of change are synergic with such alliances


in education there is a much vaster network of institutions–schools, universities, research labs, government departments, publishers–and the numerous people who work in them are more akin to a state bureaucracy than to the society of physicists. Exceptionally many people and institutions would be profoundly affected by any significant change and would defend their own interests by defending the status quo.


Besides our commitment to constructionism, another dimension on which I feel Alan to be closer than almost anyone else in the field of education is his deep understanding of real change–change that is more than incremental.

systemic ness

revolution of everyday life ness


Learning is a natural act, and it shouldn’t be subject to megachange. Or rather, I agree that, if the kind of learning we’re talking about is how a baby learns to talk, to walk, to love, to play–then learning is natural. And I don’t look for any radical change in how it might happen. But school is not a natural act. School has become a technical entity permeated with “technical” ways of thinking even in situations where no “technology” is used.


it suits the school bureaucracy to define the teachers’ job as carrying out a technically specified syllabus following a technically specified teaching method.


I believe (and again I mention Kay as one who understands this in real depth) that the only plausible route to a “humanistic” education in the near future involves extensive use of computers. Technology can undermine technocentrism. Specifically, having a strong technical infrastructure (e.g., in the form of computers as media of expression and exploration) allows the system to be less technical in its methodology (e.g., in laying down a centralized curriculum).


Shakespeare and Picasso and Einstein did okay without anyone having to decide in advance the optimal sequence for them to do whatever brought them to their enviable state of creativity. I want to see children more like Shakespeare, Picasso, and Einstein, who did what was personally meaningful rather than what was laid down in someone else’s program.

Does this threaten the jobs of teachers? In the sense of the bureaucracy’s job description it does.


Jiggering is not enough.


They hamper individual initiative, and deprive the system of the flexibility to adapt to local situations.


Control over teachers and students is simply easier when knowledge is reduced to rules stated so formally that the bureaucrat is always able to “know” unambiguously what is right and what is wrong. Technician-teachers and bureaucrats both like the true/ false binary epistemology that insists on a right answer to every question, a right way to solve every problem.


on why us… because we have an instrument for such a change. But in recognizing this I must state a qualification. I do not see the computer as a “cause” of change– certainly not of this change: much thinking about the computer goes in the opposite direction, strengthening the idea of teaching as technical act, supporting centralization in organization of institutions and of ideas. I’ve seen models of a school of the future in which there’s a computer on every desk wired up to the teacher’s computer, so that the teacher can see what every child is doing. And then the teacher’s computers are wired up to the principals computer, so the principal can see what every teacher is doing. And all the principals are wired up to well, you know where. Nothing could be more hierarchical.


Now there is an opportunity to become the person whose job is to facilitate rethinking the whole learning environment of the school, the whole structure of education.


it all started w papert – oct 2015 – 8 min video

instead of what am i supposed to do.. what do i want to do.. – @nrusk1 – natalie rusk



what grabs the individual…much more related to love than to logic.. in how you see yourself fit… rather than putting subject matter in right/logical order… education has very little to do w explanation.. but with engagement.. falling in love with the material

gears and wheels.. objects to think with.. most successful so far.. the turtles

learning rooted in experience


via Mary Lou


I just heard MIT professor and AI pioneer Seymour Papert passed away yesterday. Remembering his astonishing…

via Idit on fb

Now I get it: Seymour waited 10 years (since his horrible accident) for Marvin… I find it fascinating that these two geniuses, intellectual brothers &MIT Media Lab founding fathers – Marvin Minsky & Seymour Papert – passed in 2016 ‪#‎synchronicity‬ Lets get ready for their #‎rethinkingheaven


via Anya




MIT Media Lab (@medialab) tweeted at 7:18 AM – 26 Jan 2017 :

Today, we honor #SeymourPapert’s timeless ideas about play, experimentation, and learning. Watch live at 10am ET! (


Will Richardson (@willrich45) tweeted at 6:55 PM on Wed, Mar 22, 2017:
Hey @GardnerCampbell Seen this? @henryjenkins @worrydream


papert ed system law


NikPeachey (@NikPeachey) tweeted at 6:04 AM – 17 Oct 2017 :

Seymour Papert on How Computers Fundamentally Change the Way Kids Learn #edtech #edreform #elt #tesol #eal #ell (

Children, of course, come into the world as very powerful, highly competent learners, and the learning they do in the first few years of life is actually awesome. A child exploring the immediate world does that pretty thoroughly in an experiential, self-directed way. But when you see something in your immediate world that really represents something very far away — a picture of an elephant, for example — you wonder how elephants eat. You can’t answer that by direct exploration. So you have to gradually shift over from experiential learning to verbal learning — from independent learning to dependence on other people, culminating in school, where you’re totally dependent, and somebody is deciding what you learn.

So that shift is an unfortunate reflection of the technological level that society has been at up to now. And I see the major role of technology in the learning of young children as making that shift less abrupt, because it is a very traumatic shift. It’s not a good way of preserving the kid’s natural strengths as a learner.

maté not yet scrambled law

With new technologies the kid is able to explore much more knowledge by direct exploration, whether it’s information or exploration by getting into his sources, or finding other people to talk about it

ie: hlb via 2 convos that io dance.. as the day..[aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]..  a nother way

I think context is a concept that’s been overused here, and it’s misleading because people try to give context by relating it to other things and preaching to kids about how this is relevant to X and Y and Z. Or even providing a story of somebody who invented it, and that provides a–that’s not the same thing as being in a situation where you are struggling to solve a real problem that comes from your own activity that you really care about,

Just 100 years ago, John Dewey was saying things about educational change, not very different from what I believe in. He couldn’t get very far. And the reason why he couldn’t get very far is that he had only philosophical arguments. He didn’t have an army. You must have an army, and it’s an army primarily of children and the adults also are a political force in this.

when I look at young kids who haven’t yet been to school, they are all driven. They are passionate about what they want to do. They get into it, and they really want to do it. I think that in a lot of people that’s strangled as we go through this very traumatic, dangerous experience of school. Those who get through it can open out and find a new opportunity to be creative and free and self-directed like we had before school.

So I think the question isn’t what drives me, but how is it that you and I and all the people in the world who remain creative and passionate about what they’re doing survived the system, that in so many other cases — in the majority of cases — strangles that enormous energy?

zinn energy law.. begs.. a nother way

facil cure ios city


Seymour Papert – of math and men – aka: school/boxed math ..oh my math


i like to say.. there’s a big distinction between something i love.. called mathematics and something called math.. which is what we teach in schools.. that’s not a mathematics curriculum.. it’s a math curriculum

why curriculum..?

mathematics is an active intellectual activity.. and it means working at things where you’re using the mathematical ideas that you’re struggling with for a larger purpose.. and the idea that the larger purpose could be discovering something that the teacher has decided you’ve got to discover is not a larger purpose.. that’s just play acting.. and the kids are quite sensitive.. quite aware of that

i think at that age.. kids could be doing quite complex projects.. using computer technology or .. (we’re) doing a lot of stuff w non computer tech .. using mechanical things w leggo for ie and building devices w involving gearing and how to max the force or how steep a slope a vehicle can climb up

ie of probably not kids deeper problem.. (slope, gearing, et al)

there’s room in that for a lot of mathematical thinking.. which typically what you learn in middle school.. is not really what you need and even if it does teach you the kind of mathematical ideas you could use.. you don’t know how to use it

take multiplication for ie.. kids think of multiplication as something you do to numbers.. and you’re supposed to learn these mult tables.. and you do some rituals called.. multi digit mult.. but for me as a mathematician.. not dealing w multiplication at all.. you’re only manipulating the formalism.. and understanding multiplication is like understanding.. what is the kind of relationship between say.. time and distance and velocity.. why is that a multiplicative rather than an additive relationship

there’s nothing in the way that we talk about multiplication in elementary school.. for that matter in the kind of work that pre service teachers get.. that prepares them to even see that as a meaningful question.. it’s multiplication because that’s the formula.. but that’s not an answer.. mult has to do w a particular kind of relationship where there’s a certain kind of linearity and a certain kind of particular relationship of proportionality..

so.. i think they just don’t deal w the ideas.. and school generally is a little bit idea averse.. in mathematics it’s almost entirely idea averse.. you learn skills.. you learn how to do things.. even when you learn how to solve certain puzzle like problems.. you’re never dealing with the ideas

better yet.. since we have the means.. let’s deal with the curiosities.. via 2 convos.. as the day

ie: hlb via 2 convos that io dance.. as the day..[aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]..  a nother way


on ai:

Roger Schank (@rogerschank) tweeted at 5:21 AM – 25 Jul 2018 :

‘The discourse is unhinged’: how the media gets AI alarmingly wrong (

While the giddy hype around AI helped generate funding for researchers at universities and in the military, by the end of the 1960s it was becoming increasingly obvious to many AI pioneers that they had grossly underestimated the difficulty of simulating the human brain in machines. In 1969, Marvin Minsky, who had pronounced only eight years earlier that machines would surpass humans in general intelligence in his lifetime, co-authored a book with Seymour Papert proving that Rosenblatt’s perceptron could not do as much the experts had once promised and was nowhere near as intelligent as the media had let on.

minsky .. papert

Minsky and Papert’s book suffused the research community with a contagious doubt that spread to other fields, leading the way for an outpouring AI myth debunking. In 1972, the philosopher Hubert Dreyfus published an influential screed against thinking machines called What Computers Can’t Do, and a year later the British mathematician James Lighthill produced a report on the state of machine intelligence, which concluded that “in no part of the field have the discoveries made so far produced the major impact that was then promised

what computers can’t do


Audrey Watters (@audreywatters) tweeted at 11:22 PM on Sat, Feb 29, 2020:
Today wouldve been Seymour Papert’s 92nd bday. I think a lot about how his name gets invoked to promote computers. But, at the end of the day, I’d rather honor his commitment to freedom and justice. Fuck computational thinking of it imprisons us in a new mental subservience.

iteracy and numeracy both elements of colonialism.. we need to calculate differently and stop measuring things