Big ideas

LCSI’s new blog, Thinkering, links to Seymour Papert’s homepage, which in turn links to a four-and-a-half-year-old press release from MIT, which reminded me of our commitment to big ideas in the Math Department of the Weston Public Schools. Such are the ways of hypertext. Anyway, I don’t normally recommend press releases, but do read this one.

Papert has never been detail-oriented. Details are important, but they’re sterile without big ideas. Unfortunately, as Papert points out, several of the fields to which he has devoted his life have lost most of their vitality because they have lost their big ideas:

“I have been through three movements that began on a galactic scale and were reduced and trivialized,” Papert said during the one-man informal symposium in Bartos Theatre on July 9. The three movements — child development, artificial intelligence and kid-friendly computer science — were especially vital and big in the early 1960s, he said.

Dismissing the entire current national educational system as “idea-averse,” Papert said computers themselves could offer children an elementary model for how their own minds work.

The benefits of working with computers could also include a simple and liberating new view of mistakes. “They’re just bugs,” said Papert.

A useful reminder.

P.S.: Those who aware of Papert’s serious accident in Hanoi two months ago, when he was hit by a motorcycle, will be relieved to know that he has apparently been recovering satisfactorily from his brain surgery. He was released from the hospital on January 23 and is reported to be recuperating at home with no permanent effects of the accident.

Categories: Teaching & Learning, Technology, Weston