Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thoughts on Papert: Kid Power?


I thought I was on Seymour Papert's side within the interview "Ghost In The Machine" until he made this rather bold prediction: "This fragmentation of the day into periods devoted to different subjects will go away. Curriculum-driven structure of learning, by which I mean you learn something because it is the day in which you are supposed to learn that. As opposed to project- or application-driven learning, you learn it when you've got a need for it." As much as I would like to believe this, it will not happen for a looonggggg time, if it ever does. Schools are historically slow to reform themselves, so to believe that a change of this magnitude will occur anytime within the next decade or so is deliriously Pollyanna. Furthermore, his notion that "it just takes a sprinkling of kids in every class who know there is a better way of learning, have experienced it, and so can make a bigger demand in the classroom" is equally absurd. I'm all for teachers tailoring their lessons to be more kid-friendly, but to argue that kids have a better understanding of how they can learn a concept better than their teacher is pushing it. I agree with him on reinforcing both the constructional and informational sides of learning through one another, as well as the general idea of technology making the learning shift "less abrupt," but many of his ideas revolve around student motivation, which has no easy answer.

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