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3206Re: [learningfromeachother] Ref Andrius Kulikauskas [livingbytruth] Seymour Papert and learning to learn/think

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  • Samwel Kongere
    Apr 10, 2011
      Your input here is beneficial as i currently work with children with disability.

      On Sat Apr 9th, 2011 6:49 AM Etc/GMT+12 Edward Cherlin wrote:

      >As I have learned it, the essence of Papert's Constructionism is that
      >children learn best by making things that enable them to improve their
      >internal models of the world, and then helping each other to make them
      >better. This goes beyond direct experience as passive spectators, or
      >even as active inquirers. It is also a model of how real-world work is
      >supposed to be done.
      >There is a range of such activities, including making physical
      >objects, writing reports, creating portfolios, writing programs to
      >tell the computer what to do, writing programs to tell a robot what to
      >do, writing programs to make physical objects, and so on.
      >I work with people, at One Laptop Per Child, Sugar Labs, and
      >elsewhere, who are designing software and content to implement such
      >ideas in the classroom. I find it essential to discuss ideas such as
      >Constructionism in the context of real applications. Otherwise we have
      >no way of knowing whether we are talking about the same subject.
      >What versions of Constructionism have you seen? Most of the accounts I
      >have read are highly confused and one-sided. There is a strong
      >tendency to confuse Constructionism with Piaget's Constructivism,
      >which is indeed part of Papert's proposal, or with any of the dozens
      >of other theories under the same or similar names
      >You wrote
      >>> when I respond to what is written about his work I respond
      >>> across the full spectrum - ranging from great appreciation and
      >>> enthusiasm for his ideas at one extreme to cynicism at the other.
      >I would advise you to ignore what others have written about Papert's
      >work (even me), and to read his own writings.
      >Seymour Papert defined constructionism in a proposal to the National
      >Science Foundation entitled Constructionism: A New Opportunity for
      >Elementary Science Education
      >as follows: "The word constructionism is a mnemonic for two aspects of
      >the theory of science education underlying this project. From
      >constructivist theories of psychology we take a view of learning as a
      >reconstruction rather than as a transmission of knowledge. Then we
      >extend the idea of manipulative materials to the idea that learning is
      >most effective when part of an activity the learner experiences as
      >constructing a meaningful product."
      >As Papert and Idit Harel say at the start of Situating Constructionism,
      >"It is easy enough to formulate simple catchy versions of the idea of
      >constructionism; for example, thinking of it as 'learning-by-making'.
      >One purpose of this introductory chapter is to orient the reader
      >toward using the diversity in the volume to elaborate—to construct—a
      >sense of constructionism much richer and more multifaceted, and very
      >much deeper in its implications, than could be conveyed by any such
      >I do not find Papert's ideas to be fundamentally new. I find his
      >implementation of those ideas to be unlike anything else in the world,
      >except for those of his students and co-workers. Not at the same level
      >as the differences between Copernicus and Newton on planetary orbits,
      >but of a similar kind.
      >On Sat, Apr 2, 2011 at 00:21, Andrius Kulikauskas <ms@...> wrote:
      >> Pamela,
      >> Thank you for your letter. It's amazing, all that you've done. I'm glad
      >> that we might work together. You've written about your past. It would be
      >> great if you wrote such a letter about your future. I should likewise.
      >> Meanwhile, I've written a list of activities for organizing the kingdom
      >> of heaven:
      >> http://www.selflearners.net/Culture/
      >> Those are all places where we might overlap. In particular, I'm
      >> documenting and sharing ways of "figuring things out". I'll send out a
      >> letter that I've written about how I'm doing that in math.
      >> Peace,
      >> Andrius
      >> Andrius Kulikauskas, http://www.selflearners.net, ms@..., (773)
      >> 306-3807, @selflearners
      >> 2011.03.26 16:53, Pamela McLean rašė:
      >>> Hi Andrius <http://www.dadamac.net/network/andrius-kulikauskas> and
      >>> readers of my open letters at http://dadamac.posterous.com
      >>> <http://dadamac.posterous.com/> and LearningFromEachOther
      >>> Andrius
      >>> There are many interesting ideas and topics in your email copied
      >>> below. As I was reading it my mind responded to so much - much more
      >>> that I can possibly write here. I've highlighted areas I found of
      >>> particular interest and will just give some observations related to
      >>> them. Maybe we will discuss further some other time.
      >>> I've been interested in ICT in education since way back when
      >>> "micro-computers" were just coming into existence (I was Pamela Fiddy
      >>> then, not McLean) - this means that I was a fan of Papert's work on
      >>> logo when it was happening. I was an early experimenter with his ideas
      >>> - and friends of mine were involved in making the various "floor
      >>> turtles" that brought the whole thing to life in ways beyond
      >>> representations on the screen.
      >>> I recognise and admire his work with computers in education as being
      >>> very innovative. I also observed in various schools just how much of
      >>> his ideas had actually filtered through into classroom practice. This
      >>> means when I respond to what is written about his work I respond
      >>> across the full spectrum - ranging from great appreciation and
      >>> enthusiasm for his ideas at one extreme to cynicism at the other.
      >>> However when I read about Papert and that he developed
      >>> "constructionist learning" I have very mixed feeling. I know he was
      >>> innovative regarding computer use in education (those of us who were
      >>> around at the time of Mindstorms used to hang on his every word), but
      >>> I don't have the same feeling about him as an innovator regarding
      >>> education in general. The quotes that are ascribed to him regarding
      >>> education are good, but (from the viewpoint of an infant and junior
      >>> teacher trained in the 1970s) the educational theory seems to me to be
      >>> nothing special - good, but not particularly original - it just
      >>> reminds me of what we were taught to do.
      >>> The quotes you give tie in with the essays that we wrote at college on
      >>> such topics as "The child is the agent of his own learning" (that
      >>> title seems permanently lodged in my brain). "Constructionist
      >>> learning" ties in with our tutors' insistence that we should never
      >>> give children second-hand experience of anything that we could
      >>> conceivably have offered as a first-hand experience.
      >>> When I started to teach we weren't directed by the national
      >>> curriculum, and, although we were "in loco parentis" we weren't
      >>> constrained by a risk-averse "health and safety gone mad" culture. We
      >>> had all kinds of freedoms to take unexpected opportunities to learn.
      >>> For instance I remember when the firemen came unexpectedly to test the
      >>> fire-hydrant outside our school. I quickly took my class out to see
      >>> what was happening. The firemen were great and let us watch and ask
      >>> questions. It was a sunny day and so they made special "showers of
      >>> rain" for us with the hose so that we could see rainbows. It was one
      >>> more shared experience that the children and I could draw on in our
      >>> subsequent thinking and talking and making sense of our world. Isn't
      >>> that the kind of thins the "constructivists" are talking about - or am
      >>> I missing something?
      >>> I admit I haven't read that much about "constructivism" - but from
      >>> what I have read, I can't see what is so special and new about it
      >>> (though I'm ready to be shown). I'm not meaning to belittle Papert,
      >>> but it seems to me that there is a wrong emphasis. I think of other
      >>> great teachers too, and wonder if they are being equally recognised. I
      >>> think fro instance of Zoltan Dienes
      >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zolt%C3%A1n_P%C3%A1l_Dienes who was a
      >>> wonderful teacher - in theory and in practice. I remember a day of
      >>> watching him teach and the key thing that I learned from him. "Never
      >>> teach a generalisation". He believed we should give enough experience
      >>> of specific examples so that the children could then generate their
      >>> own generalisation - from which they could subsequently confidently
      >>> generate their own additional specific examples. (This process can't
      >>> be hurried - sometimes it can take months - and it is wonderful to
      >>> watch the "aha!" moment when a generalisation dawns).
      >>> Regarding OLPC - I don't often join in the OLPC debate (partly because
      >>> I do respect some of the people involved and some of the good work
      >>> that has come out of the project) but, with you Andrius, I will share
      >>> my frustration at the way that some OLPC people seem to suggest they
      >>> are the only people in the world to see the benefit of enabling
      >>> children to learn by doing.
      >>> End of my rant.
      >>> I love the ideas of Kestas Augutis - all new to me - thank you. You
      >>> never cease to impress me with the range of interesting people that
      >>> you know
      >>> I'm interested too in your sequences, hierarchies and networks - not
      >>> just for personal learning and/or bodies of knowledge, but also in
      >>> connection with how we structure knowledge online.
      >>> You and I definitely share an interest in thinking and learning. The
      >>> short title of my final dissertation at college was "Think child!" - I
      >>> explored what that meant in the context of various aspects of Bloom's
      >>> taxonomy of educational objectives
      >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom%27s_Taxonomy
      >>> When I did my OU degree that "Think child!" dissertation and my
      >>> practical work as a teacher were both at the core of all my studies -
      >>> which related to decision making, the ordering of information,
      >>> systems, computers, artificial intelligence, and so on. That was
      >>> followed by my theoretical and practical investigations of the role of
      >>> computers in primary education.
      >>> Much later of course, in Minciu Sodas, you gave me the opportunity to
      >>> investigate ideas about teachers and learners and ICT - the changing
      >>> roles - emerging systems of education in the 21st century. That
      >>> interest (theoretical and practical) is still lurking and developing
      >>> in my practical work with dadamac and my experiments at dadamac.net
      >>> <http://dadamac.net>, posterous and elsewhere.
      >>> Your email ends "Who would like to learn about learning? along with me?"
      >>> Maybe it would be good to explore further with each other our
      >>> overlapping interests in learning about learning.
      >>> Pamela
      >>> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
      >>> From: *Andrius Kulikauskas* <ms@... <mailto:ms@...>>
      >>> Date: 2011/3/25
      >>> Subject: [livingbytruth] Seymour Papert and learning to learn/think
      >>> To: learningfromeachother <learningfromeachother@yahoogroups.com
      >>> <mailto:learningfromeachother@yahoogroups.com>>,
      >>> mathfuture@... <mailto:mathfuture@...>,
      >>> livingbytruth@yahoogroups.com <mailto:livingbytruth@yahoogroups.com>
      >>> I wrote this for another group. Perhaps it will spark ideas. Andrius
      >>> Kulikauskas
      >>> ------------------------------------------
      >>> Seymour Papert's work is popular in Lithuania. I'm glad that you've
      >>> inspired me to learn more how remarkable he is. Still,I think we're
      >>> just in the early days of "constructionist" learning, as he called it.
      >>> I'm curious why you focus on teaching kids rather than adults to
      >>> learn/think. I feel as if there are two camps:
      >>> * People who want to teach children. They consider it the optimal age
      >>> to teach because it keeps children out of trouble, gives them something
      >>> to do, and most adults aren't teachable, especially if they haven't been
      >>> taught as children, or they aren't competent or interested to teach or
      >>> encourage their children.
      >>> * People who want to teach adults. They consider it the optimal age
      >>> because adults can learn from each other as (possible) equals (or
      >>> unequals), the learning can be voluntary, and it can develop a shared
      >>> culture. Whereas children often don't need to be taught, they can learn
      >>> many things haphazardly, almost automatically, and they are ultimately
      >>> influenced by adults who are interested (or not) in learning.
      >>> I'm strongly in the second camp, mostly because I like to learn myself
      >>> and I want to share what I'm learning, but from Minciu Sodas I know
      >>> dedicated people in the first camp, like Edward Cherlin (advocate of
      >>> OLPC and Sugar).
      >>> Papert, a mathematician, worked with developmental psychologist Jean
      >>> Piaget from 1958 to 1963
      >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constructivism_(learning_theory)
      >>> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constructivism_%28learning_theory%29>
      >>> Piaget did many original experiments that made clear how children of
      >>> different ages rely on internal models for judging, for example, which
      >>> container holds more water, (say, the taller one), and that these models
      >>> grow more sophisticated in predictable ways. "Individual learners
      >>> construct mental models to understand the world around them". See
      >>> Norman Anderson's information integration theory for a rigorous critique
      >>> of Piaget's ideas and results (notably his belief that children can't
      >>> integrate concepts), pg. 202, "A Functional Theory of Cognition".
      >>> Papert developed "constructionist" learning:
      >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constructionist_learning
      >>> "learning can happen most effectively when people are active in making
      >>> tangible objects in the real world"
      >>> * "learning as a reconstruction rather than as a transmission of
      >>> knowledge"
      >>> * "learning is most effective when part of an activity the learner
      >>> experiences as constructing a meaningful product"
      >>> which is related to John Dewey and "experiential education", where
      >>> experience is central, there is interaction (internal needs/goals of a
      >>> person) and continuity (from experience to experience).
      >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experiential_education
      >>> Papert was a proponent of bringing IT to the classrooms. He developed
      >>> the Logo programming language (for writing simple programs to manipulate
      >>> a Turtle on a screen, drawing pictures, thereby learn math, etc.) He
      >>> wrote "Mindstorms: Children Computers and Powerful Ideas" (1980). Lego
      >>> Mindstorms were named after the book. His Epistemology and Learning
      >>> Research Group was a forerunner of the MIT Media Lab. He influenced
      >>> Alan Kay, who led the team that developed Smalltalk at Xerox PARC, in
      >>> part for constructionist learning, and who later created Squeak. Papert
      >>> was hurt badly in an accident in 2006.
      >>> "Some of the most crucial steps in mental growth are based not simply on
      >>> acquiring new skills, but on acquiring new administrative ways to use
      >>> what one already knows". "Papert's principle" described in Marvin
      >>> Minsky's "Society of the Mind":
      >>> http://www.papert.org/articles/PapertsPrinciple.html
      >>> Edith Ackermann's paper seems like a good comparison of Piaget's and
      >>> Papert's views:
      >>> http://learning.media.mit.edu/content/publications/EA.Piaget%20_%20Papert.pdf
      >>> In 1997, I moved to Lithuania and met Kestas Augutis, a hermit living in
      >>> a swamp, but teaching kids computers (DOS, 286s, 386s) at the local
      >>> school. The "Mindstorms" book had been translated into Lithuania, and
      >>> the Logo language was and is popular:
      >>> http://www.logo.lt http://www.jkm.lt/LOGO/2011/
      >>> Kestas had noteworthy visions of education, including that every child
      >>> should write three books:
      >>> * an encyclopedia, organized as a network
      >>> * a thesaurus, organized as a hierarchy
      >>> * a chronicle, organized as a sequence
      >>> These three books would be the outcome of the child's education, would
      >>> show that they were ready for the world, and would be what they would
      >>> build on throughout their life. He also thought every child should help
      >>> build a house, as he did with his father. Kestas died in 1998 at the
      >>> age of 43.
      >>> I liked his "three books" idea and, for my first project, I tried to
      >>> write software for organizing thoughts in those three ways. Then I
      >>> learned about TheBrain and MindManager and realized that there was a
      >>> need for an import/export format (or modeling language) for getting
      >>> collections of thoughts in and out of such tools. That led to Mindset
      >>> http://www.ms.lt/mindset.html in 2001. (I was told by HP Bristol Labs
      >>> that it was 10 years too early, but now in the age of Twitter, it might
      >>> be timely.)
      >>> I made a list of examples to check whether information gets organized in
      >>> sequences, hierarchies and networks, and surprisingly, I found out that
      >>> it never does! Instead, it gets organized in pairs of these
      >>> structures. For example, a sequence of historical events quickly
      >>> becomes unwieldy and so it is reorganized into a hierarchy and becomes a
      >>> "chronicle". I observed six types:
      >>> * chronicle: sequence -> hierarchy
      >>> * evolution: hierarchy -> sequence
      >>> * catalog: hierarchy -> network
      >>> * atlas: network -> hierarchy
      >>> * canon: sequence -> network
      >>> * tour: network -> sequence
      >>> See: http://www.worknets.org/papers/organizingthoughts.html
      >>> Is that a good start? Perhaps you can add some key ideas?
      >>> I'm very active in trying to understand how we figure things out,
      >>> http://www.selflearners.net/ways/
      >>> which is a key but neglected part of learning and thinking. It seems
      >>> that we are still in very early days to teach people how to learn and
      >>> think.
      >>> Children are likely operating on an implicit approach that is better
      >>> than anything we might explicitly teach them about learning. Compare
      >>> their natural language acquisition skills and our educational methods
      >>> for teaching language (or vision or faith or ...?)
      >>> I'm trying to do this from scratch. For example, what's worth
      >>> teaching? Last year I decided that what's worth teaching is right and
      >>> wrong. Reading, writing (if they are worthwhile) help us care about
      >>> others. Mathematics (if it is worthwhile) builds models which are to
      >>> some extent valid, and at some point invalid, and perhaps that helps us
      >>> appreciate the relationship of system and spirit. I still don't know.
      >>> Who knows? I'm working on my math ideas here:
      >>> http://www.gospelmath.com/Math/DeepIdeas
      >>> Who dares to teach children? I prefer to experiment on myself.
      >>> Who would like to learn about learning? along with me?
      >>> Andrius
      >>> Andrius Kulikauskas
      >>> http://www.selflearners.net
      >>> ms@... <mailto:ms@...>
      >>> (773) 306-3807
      >>> @selflearners
      >>> ------------------------------------
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      >> ------------------------------------
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      >Edward Mokurai (默雷/धर्ममेघशब्दगर्ज/دھرممیگھشبدگر ج) Cherlin
      >Silent Thunder is my name, and Children are my nation.
      >The Cosmos is my dwelling place, the Truth my destination.
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